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Towards the end of 2016, a new bar was opened in Dalston (North East London) which gained a lot of media attention due to its unique space themed underground ball pit filled with 250k balls and inflatable toys. Ballie Ballerson invited Londoners to let loose their inner child for the night whilst sipping on sweet flavoured cocktails and playing hide-and-seek with friends in their chest high adult-only ball pit.
A few weeks ago I took a group of friends along for my housemate’s surprise birthday night out.
After a 45-minute train journey from SW to NE London, we arrived at Dalston Kingsland station, and with an hour to go until our entry slot we wandered down the high street looking for somewhere to grab a quick drink.
The first place we came across was a simple black door next to a restaurant, which we only noticed due to the bouncer standing outside. Apprehensively we walked in and down a small staircase to find the very chic yet hipster underground bar called ‘Ray’s Bar’, with table service and delicious and cheap (for London standards) cocktails, a lovely way to start the night.
After a couple of drinks at Rays we headed on to BallieBallerson itself, which is located in a fairly discreet shop front on the main road with a large open door and staff and punters lingering outside.
Upon first entering, the venue seems like a very small casual bar with exposed brick walls and simple wooden tables. The ground floor has a small seating and standing area with 2 bars which have been decorated by local graffiti artists.
Being an extremely popular new venue, entry to BallieBallerson required advance booking. Standard entry was £15 pp or a VIP table for 6 was £170 (£28.33 pp) and included entry, a table and a bottle of prosecco. Being a special occasion we went for the table, which we were guided to by a member of staff straight after arriving. The table was a great way to start the night as the standing bar area got busy quickly.
Whilst we waited for a member of bar staff to bring our bottle of prosecco I grabbed the birthday girl and took her to see the real reason we had travelled the whole way across London to this little hipster bar. We squeezed down the small staircase to the basement area where we first saw it… the massive ball pit.
In a child-like fit of excitement, we chucked our coats and bags into the cloakroom and dived straight in. We ended up spending the majority of the night in the ball-pit, with only the occasional trip up to our table for a drink (you can’t take drinks in for obvious reasons). The venue limits entry numbers so the ball pit didn’t get too crowded, meaning there was plenty of room for jumping around and having ball fights with strangers.
In-keeping with the theme, BallieBallerson’s drinks menu was based on retro childhood sweets such as dip-dabs and wham bars…. major sugar rush!
So how do you go to this place? Well, unfortunately, BallieBallerson is no more, but don’t despair, in its place is GlowyMcGlow! It’s still the same bar, however as of February 10th the colourful balls have been replaced by 250k clear balls on top of a LED dance floor, and the retro cocktails replaced by space-themed ‘Fire, Ice and Helium’ cocktails. I know I will definitely be heading back again soon!
Here are a few tips for surviving a night at BallieBallerson/GlowieMcGlow:
- Tickets sell out quickly so make sure to buy them in advance here.
- Put all possession in the cloakroom – don’t even take in your phone (quickly take your photos then get rid of it) and remove all money and other items from your pocket or you will end up losing them.
- Girls, don’t wear heels – you’ll hurt yourself jumping around. Also, wear shoes that strap on tight or you might lose them too.
- Stick with friends – if you fall over you will sink into the balls and won’t be able to get back up, so make sure you have a friend to save you (I mean you could just grope a nearby stranger to get up but that can be a little awkward).
- Make new friends – ball wars with other groups is great fun!
- Don’t be afraid to embrace your inner child 🙂