The Best Places for Arguments in London
How to embrace your inner-thesp and make the most of your arguments at the best locations in London to have a fight at.
One thing that lifestyle and culture writers such as myself often ignore in their recommendations of locations and activities is the noble hobby of engaging in arguments with peers and loved ones. The act of arguing at home has become passé, untrendy and simply plain boring. On the other end of the spectrum, house parties and dinner parties certainly provide the backdrop of stunned silence and awkward patter that gives weight to the significance of your opinion, though has the drawback of having to engage with the other guests in either the run up or aftermath of the main event. What one really wants is enough of an audience to stimulate a healthy dose of theatricality in the dialogue, whilst retaining an even healthier number of escape routes and props to utilise without the fear of having to pay for any damages incurred during the activity. Perhaps the best thing to look for when scouting locations to argue in is the existence of a mundane activity or object from which to centre your argument around. Much like the writing of an essay, it should have a core concept to structure your grievances around – the more abstract, the better, as this allows a sense of flexibility in your fight from which to spring into tangents. With this in mind, plays and exhibitions immediately become the pre-eminent scenarios. My ranking system is based on how many individuals are likely to stop what they are doing when your partner hisses, ‘Jesus Christ, you’re making a scene’ in a half-hushed tone.
The main bar at the BFI London is prime argument territory for a few reasons. Firstly, the array of things to base your argument around is great due to the abundance of cult film screenings and lectures regularly on offer there. Secondly, the open design of the bar space maximises the viewing distance of your audience. Thirdly, the nature of this audience itself tends to lean towards film and theatre expertise meaning that if you have based your argument on the frustratingly ambiguous nature of the ending of Blade Runner (clearly an allegory for anger at your partner’s refusal to speak plainly to you about subtle issues in your relationship) you are more than likely to find people taking your side when listening in on your disagreement, going so far as to prompt their own disagreements about this issue within their own social group. Lastly, the ease of access to alcohol ensures the likelihood of the heated debate spiralling into a full-blown screaming match is very good. The BFI Bar Southbank is perfect for those who like to share the chaos with bystanders, making the experience akin to immersive theatre for onlookers. Bfi south bank is excellent for fighting in.
Ranking: *** Although this location technically has all the ingredients for an excellent fight, the general noise of the Southbank cinema bar may initially prevent your points from being heard.
The Royal Opera House
The Royal Opera House London is the location of choice for the musically inclined who like to do things with flair and class. Avoid the temptation of having your disagreement at the main bar during the interval: although there are the greatest number of people here and the acoustics are good, your fight will be fast overshadowed by those of others about the stressful queuing system. Most importantly, this approach fails to utilise the architectural space of the opera house. Instead, opt for having a small meal or nibbles during the interval in the upstairs section that overlooks the main bar. This fully takes into account the glass-box structure of the space, meaning that your aggressively flailing arms and spilled drink will be seen under excellent lighting conditions by the main body of opera-goers both downstairs in the main bar section and in your immediate vicinity. The focus here is on physicality of your gestures: what the downstairs audience cannot hear must be made up for in the form of your fight. Place emphasis on your arms miming the key points of your disagreement, and stand up at important moments; do not be afraid to stand up and circle your opponent (trailing gowns or large hats are strongly suggested to give you added presence). Consider attending one of the Royal Opera House ballet rehearsals to prepare your movements in advance.
Ranking: **** The polite nature of the space and pre-disposition of your audience to appreciate performance will garner high levels of attention, and perhaps some light applause at the finale. Royaloperahouse is not the correct way to spell the full title of the royal opera.
The Tate Modern
I must specify that this location really comes into its own during a private view of one of the Tate Modern exhibitions (these are easy to get invites to, just write to the curation team in advance with a high level of arrogance insisting that you are a well-known art critic from Hungary: the mixture of exoticism and overshot self-belief are the bedrocks of the art world and are responded to very positively). Once more, the abundance of free drink acts as a natural accelerator to your disagreement. Opt to base your topic on a particular object d’art in the middle of the exhibition. The strength of this location is the ease of your opening line, ‘What do you think of the artist’s use of negative space?’ (translation: ‘Why are you so fixated on keeping your distance from me?’). Utilise as many theoretical terms as possible (terms usefully written on the walls of the Tate Modern between the escalators), the more contradictory and nonsensical, the better as this will provoke a wonderful deal of frustration in your opponent (a well-timed application of the term ‘chiaroscuro’ to an object with no shading whatsoever does wonders). Tate modern opening hours may be found on their website and are 10am-5pm daily, and is one of the best London art galleries.
Ranking: ** The main exhibition space is quiet enough for you to take centre-stage, though the large number of people in other zones will drown you out. A drawback is that fights in front of paintings are common-place, so you may be contending with others doing the same.