Real travel is less about visiting tourist attractions and more about delving deep into a city’s vibe. It’s about taking the pulse of your surroundings and letting curiosity guide you down rabbit holes filled with new experiences. Of course, these days, with a global pandemic making even routine travel seem precarious, we don’t really have the luxury of getting lost anymore. We really need to zero in on what’s worth seeing and what isn’t.
When it comes to building out a travel guide for a big city like London, where to even start? Do you break it up by regions? Find a local?
Yes and yes. To tours us through South London, we connected with rising R&B artist, rapper, and member of the South London fashion collective VX Mob, VX Duse. Duse is South London through and through. Hailing from the Streatham district’s underground club scene, Duse knows this particular, artist-driven region of London intimately. The video for his latest single “Prism” — from his debut self-titled ep of the same name — features scenes taken straight from the streets of South London set to a sound that is smooth and intimate like the Weeknd, but with a lot more rhythm and way less ’80s cheese.
While the video is grim and moody, perhaps capturing the seedier vibe of South London at night, Duse’s travel suggestions are full of levity, brimming with food-porn-worthy eating spots, glowing clubs, and nature-filled getaways. Check out the video for ‘Prism’ below and then hit Duse’s guide to South London.
First thing you need to do when you arrive in South London?
Eat at El Rancho De Lalo
The first thing someone should do in South London is grab some food at El Rancho De Lalo, it is an authentic Colombian restaurant located in Brixton Market. It’s one of my favorite spots. I have been going there since I was young.
I would recommend getting ‘Bandeja paisa’ which includes a little of everything, steamed white rice, avocado slices, fried egg, chorizo, crispy pork belly, saucy red beans, plantain, beef, and salad. Afterward, I would recommend going to Battersea Park to chill, have a smoke and listen to some music.
Best last night food spot?
Definitely Morleys, it’s always been the go-to for everyone here in South. I’d usually get a strip burger meal or a combo of 1pc chicken, some wings, and ribs, you can’t go wrong with some Morley’s after a late-night studio session or a movie.
Even back in the days after school, we would always go grab something to eat in Morley’s, they only have them South so it’s basically part of the culture.
Best view in South London?
Primrose Hill is the best place to get a good view of the city. It is a huge park that sits on a hill and right at the top, you get an amazing panoramic view of the city. It is right next to Camden food market. I would propose going around sunset time, staying till late to watch the sun go down and get a sick view of the city lights at night time.
Sometimes I like to get some food from the market then pass by the corner shop to get Magnums and take it to the top of the hill to enjoy.
Best neighborhood to party?
Shoreditch for sure. I spent most of my nights out there… bars like Trafik and clubs such as Cargo. If you are trying to party til late, like 6-7 AM, then Club Aquarium is the spot. Lastly, for music and something based in South London, I would suggest Fire and Lightbox club in Vauxhall for a mix of House, hip hop & Latin vibes.
Best place to take in nature in South London?
The best place to take in nature is Caeser’s Camp in Aldershot. It’s army land with huge spaces, mountains of different types of natural textures that you wouldn’t normally see around South London. My close friend Todd (@filmbytodd) is from the area and every now and again we take a trip out there to clear our minds and take in the nature, hang out in the mountains…we might be accompanied by a drink or a smoke up there.
What is your fondest memory of the city?
Visiting Elephant & Castle
My fondest memory of South London would be visiting Brixton/Elephant & Castle. My parents are Colombian immigrants and there is a big Latin community out there we’re a part of. There are lots of Latin shops such as cafes, bakeries, restaurants and mini supermarkets with products you can’t find in other areas.
In terms of fondest memories for myself growing up it would be Streatham/Mitcham, doing all my school years in these areas I saw a lot and learned a lot.
Best place to grab a drink?
The best place to grab a drink is Box Park in Croydon. It’s an outdoor/indoor food court that gives you the opportunity to select from a variety of dishes, desserts, and drinks and enjoy them together in one place. They also play music so it’s a cool place to hang out with your guy or girls or family. Whenever I go, I get the Argentinian mixed steak grilled or a burrito from Chilango’s, and the drink I always get is Hennessy and Coke with some shots of Patrón.
Best place to take in the culture of South London?
Brixton is a great place to take in the city’s culture. You might be feeling Caribbean food then have a South American dessert because there are a lot of different nationalities & cultures in the same place. After you’ve spent some time here, you can go to Central London which is another great place to take in the city’s culture. From Brixton Tube St. (TFL, the London Underground train service) you get great access to Oxford street through the Victoria line. Oxford is where all the high street brands are and a few hidden gems such as FootPatrol and Palace.
What’s the one thing everyone visiting South London needs to experience?
Bike the city
One thing everyone should do when visiting South London is to go on a Santander bike and roam around South to see for themselves, that’s the best way to take in the surroundings. These Santander bikes — rental bikes — are located all over London so you can access them easily. I would make a day out of it and ride around the city day and night visiting key spots like Hyde Park, South Bank, Canary Wharf, and Greenwich whilst making pit stops along the way to try out different foods and drinks.