The WAH Nails founder and London resident shares her favourite places in the city.
When I first moved to London from Wolverhampton, I lived in Tufnell Park. It was really pretty and leafy. I’d been coming up here quite regularly to go to concerts and stuff, so I knew what it was like. But I didn’t know the areas well, it’s something you only learn with time. When I moved here, I never got the tube because I wanted to see where I was all the time. I’d get the bus everywhere, and I’d have the ‘A-Z’ with me on the bus and I’d be looking at all the roads and working out where I was in relation to different areas.
Oh my God, the first time I got off the bus in Hackney I was like, ‘What the hell is this place? Get me out of here’.
After six months of living in London, I moved to Hackney. Oh my God, the first time I got off the bus in Hackney I was like, ‘What the hell is this place? Get me out of here’. But then, I ended up moving here because of my ex-boyfriend. I started off living in Clapton Pond and the more money I’ve made, the closer I’ve moved to Shoreditch. But I’d never move any closer than Haggerston because I do love it in Dalston.
When I launched (my nail art salon) WAH Nails, I chose to open it on Kingsland Road in Dalston, because it was two minutes from my house and I wanted to be able to go to work around the corner. But also, Dalston and Haggerston were just where everybody was. All my mates were there. I loved how it felt like being at school - same way how you’d be in school and you’d bump into your mates in the corridor, I loved the idea that I’d just bump into my mates in the street. Because I’d had a couple of house parties, people knew where I lived and sometimes they’d just ring my bell. Not always a good thing but it’s quite fun! I was definitely never bored.
I also loved being able to go raving and walk home, that’s the best thing ever. When I first moved to Dalston it was all about the basement bars - Visions Video, Barden’s [now The Nest], all these bars that were in crap basements but had the best parties.
Whenever I have American friends over, I always take them to Highgate Wood or Hampstead Heath and they’re always like ‘Oh my Gaaaad!’
Now that I have a child, what I love about London the most is the green space. You really take it for granted but when you go to other cities like New York or Paris, where I went with (my one-year old) baby, there’s nowhere to just go off the street and chill. It just doesn’t exist. You’d have to go to the park. My favourite green space in London is definitely Highgate Wood. You’re in there and you don’t feel like you’re in London whatsoever. Whenever I have American friends over - like skater-y, streetwear-y Americans - I always take them to Highgate Wood or Hampstead Heath and they’re always like ‘Oh my Gaaaad!’ They’ve always been hanging out in Old Street and Hackney, and they can’t believe how beautiful Highgate is. I think that’s important, because London has both sides of it.
Obviously I always get my nails done at WAH. And for my hair, Bleach is the best. They really do my hair the best. But if they’re busy, I just go to my local Jamaican hairdresser. I couldn’t tell you where she’s based, she moves around - the other mad thing about Dalston is that people just move around. Sometimes they disappear and I’m like ‘Where’s my bloody hairdresser?!’ And no-one else wants to give you their details because it’s competitive. So you’ve just gotta wait. Once I didn’t see her for a year and then I just bumped into her in the street.
I love Liberty because it’s super traditional and I love Dover Street because it’s super future.
For shopping, and I know they’re both pretty exhausted in terms of recommendations, but I do love Liberty and Dover Street Market the best. I just love ‘em. I love when stores are always changing, they’re always exciting, there’s always stuff going on. I love Liberty because it’s super traditional and I love Dover Street because it’s super future.
I work on Wardour Street, so for coffees or a quick lunch I always go to Gail’s. I’m there all the time. It’s really good. Although I’m not loyal like that - I try new places all the time. In Dalston I go to Reilly’s all the time. It’s really quiet, I can put the baby on the floor and he can run around.
When I want to look at art, I always have a good day at the Tate Modern - although it’s always so crowded. I really like big, grand spaces rather than small galleries. It’s not like I’m not being discerning by picking the Tate Modern but at the end of the day it’s got the most money, so it does things well. The ‘Pop Life’ exhibition was amazing, I loved it so much. And Tate Modern do smaller things as well, and their own collections are good too. I love video art, I love big showy art, I love photography. The little exhibitions on level two at the Tate are so inspiring. And I really like the Hayward Gallery.
I definitely think Boiler Room is an experience for ‘youth culture 2012’.
If I’ve got friends in town, I’d take them to Boiler Room. I feel like it’s a moment in time right now. It’s such a weird thing for people to comprehend, that they’re live streaming everything to the Internet. It’s essentially the last underground club in East London - you can walk past it and not know it’s there. And it’s every week, I have so much respect for people like [the guys behind] YOYO, who keep parties popping every week. I definitely think Boiler Room is an experience for ‘youth culture 2012’.
Then I’ll also take friends to Highgate, because it’s just so lovely. I’ll take them to The Flask or just walk them down to the South Bank. I love the whole of South Bank, I think we’re so lucky to have it. In fact, I think that all the time, every day - I’m so lucky to live in London.