London’s reputation as not always the easiest and friendliest city is kind of true. Yes, people will barge you out of the way for the last available seat on the tube, and a lack of personal space will fray most tempers on daily basis during the dreaded rush hour. But, that’s not the whole story. It can take a bit of time to find your people—like-minded individuals with whom you can meet up and moan about how everyone in London complains all the time, and so on.
Meeting people through shared or niche interests is getting easier. Whether you’re shy in social situations, looking for someone to go on the run with, or talk about books and films with or want a dance partner, there are plenty of people who feel the same.
Here are our recommendations for London social clubs and meetups:
Facebook groups or Meetup groups aren’t just for career opportunities or networking, there are lots of social groups too.
But, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by options, or apprehensive at meeting new people, start with the London Shyness Meetup group. They encourage people to join up, with no pressure and are empathetic to those who experience social anxiety, shyness and depression.
Events include pub meetups, boardg ames nights, coffee meetups and workshops in a low-pressure environment. As the organisers “Join and meet like-minded people. No pressure to talk, just be there”.
If you search through the London groups on Meetup, you’ll find a group for pretty much any interest or activity. Some have a local-focus, like North London Friends, South London Social Group and Board Games East London, and Ealing Friends are a great way to meet more people in your area.
Other regular London meetup groups include London Photographic, Walks and Tours, and The London Cultureseekers Group.
Love a solo matinee or going to see films your friends roll their eyes at? You’re not alone! London has film clubs for pretty much every niche.
Own your so-called ‘guilty pleasures’ (or films you’ve possibly never heard of) at Crap Film Club, where laughter and live commentary will not get you kicked out of the screening. The straight-to-DVD fodder featuring the likes of Rats: Nights of Terror, Aerobicide (killer workout) and short-person Bond spoof For Your Height Onlyare shown at The Old Queen’s Head, Essex Road. You don’t have to become a member to attend, but advance tickets are available for £5.00
Over in Rotherhithe, you can explore world cinema at Sands Film Club. Weekly and monthly screenings are held at the Sands Film Studio. To join, sign up for free membership and pre-book to attend.
Meanwhile, at The Duke Mitchell Film Club, resident host The Duke has been hosting free, obscure, cult and odd film events for the past ten years, mainly at The Prince Charles Cinema.
Book clubs and groups
There are book groups all over London, you can search by genre, niche, area, era etc. A couple of the bigger ones include.
A couple of the bigger ones include:
Brixton Book Group
The south London based book club meets in a Brixton pub once a month, and new members are always welcome to join in the book chat. The group meets every 3-4 weeks to discuss the previous month’s book and pick the next one. It’s a very relaxed group that usually meets at the Effra Social and books are pitched by members of the group and put to a vote. Expect lively discussion and an eclectic mix of sci-fi contemporary fiction, non-fiction, pulp fiction and classic – pretty much anything goes. The only criteria is to join you should bring along a book to suggest, and turn up to the next one if yours is picked.Website: brixtonbookgroup.com
Book Bar Book Club
The north London bookshop Book Bar is all about bringing people together through books. As well as a regular roster of author events, the venue also hosts the monthly Book Bar Book Club, which is currently virtual. You can join for a subscription fee of £15.00 which includes the price of the book you’ll be reading that month, which has an emphasis on contemporary fiction and non fiction, including works by Elif Shafak, Natasha Brown and Meg Mason.Website: bookbaruk.com
London Wine and Dine Book Club
Plenty of book clubs involve discussing books over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. But, as the name makes clear: eating and drinking are actively encouraged. LWADBC meets twice a month in restaurants in central London (usually budget friendly chains including Polpo or Byron) and charges £3 to attend.meetup.com/london-wine-and-dine-book-club/
Some of London’s most inclusive, fun and socially active group are choirs. There are choirs for every musical taste, background and belief system, many of which don’t even require auditions. Check our guide for a full list of London best community choirs.
Combine a love of running with some volunteering atGoodGym. You can run with your local GoodGym group (they’re based all over London) for free, or make a donation if you wish. The easiest way to get involved is to participate in group runs, usually led by a personal trainer running coach to a task which is usually in the local community, like a school or elderly person’s home, or park.
There are also different groups for various ages, fitness levels and interests from hiking to bootcamps.
And if running just isn’t your thing, there are plenty of walking groups in London. The Ramblers is an association of different groups, aimed at encouraging people to enjoy the benefits of walking. There are lots of groups listed on their website, including London Strollers, for shorter walks, Metropolitan Walks (for people in their 20s and 30s), and various borough-based groups.
Dancing societies and groups
Step out, and find others who want to swing, jive, lindy hop and any other form you’re into.
One of the bigger groups is London Free Swing. Join their Meetup page for Charleston taster sessions, free swing classes and demos from groups like Swing Patrol across London.
Another big group is London Ballroom Club who have weekly dance classes in Colliers Wood and Balham. And if toe tapping to big musical numbers are more your bag, check out the events at classes at London Tap Jam.
Originally published in Aug 2018, last update Jan 2023.