Holiday Inspiration

VALENTINE’S DAY AND THE SINGLE GIRL

By Susan Ward Davies

Rock ‘n’ Roll Speed Hating, Blues Kitchen, Camden

With a strict ‘no- couples’ policy, this party is the antidote to all things saccharine and cutesy on Valentine’s Day. The drink will flow and the kitchen will be serving the sort of American classics and New Orleans soul food that make you happy to be single and stuffing your face without worrying about getting BBQ sauce on your chin. Saying that, don’t expect to hide in the corner, as there will be games and merriment and you’ll find it hard not to join in. Sense of humour rules, and any bitterness can be vented via a giant mood board on which guests will be encouraged to pin their pet hates. The dance floor should be full thanks to classic 1950s rock ’n’ roll band Dollar Bill.

The Blues Kitchen, 111-113 Camden High St, London, NW1 7JN; theblueskitchen.com; 020 7387 5277; Thursday February 14 2013 19:00-01:00; Free

Feeling Gloomy: Down With Dating Valentine’s Special, The Phoenix, Soho

Purveyors of unbridled misery, Feeling Gloomy and Down with Dating, are throwing two anti-Valentines specials that offer single girls the chance to wallow in self-pity, listen to indie classics and, just possibly, meet a like-minded troubled soul. Both nights will begin with a Speed Hating (yes, that’s Hating) session during which you can tell prospective partners about everything you really loathe. Following that, the brave can take part in Blind Hate, a twisted version of Cilla’s show, in which contestants are free to ask questions like, ‘If I left you, which of my limbs would you saw off first?’ Wilting flowers will adorn the bar and, on the dance floor, tunes will be cranked up loud, all the better to scream along with well-known heartbreakers like Tainted Love and suitably cynical indie hits such as The Bitterest Pill. Being gloomy has never been such fun!

The Phoenix, 37 Cavendish Sq, London, W1G 0PP; feelinggloomy.com/Down_With_Dating.html; 0844 477 2000; Friday February 8th Down With Dating 7pm-10pm, Feeling Gloomy 10pm-3am; Tickets DWD £10, FG £4.50; Wednesday February 13th Down With Dating 7pm-10pm; Tickets £10

Shaggers: Valentine’s Special, Leicester Square Theatre, Soho

If you’re contemplating a one-night stand in the near future, this award-wining comedy show should put to bed such plans. A line-up of male, female, gay and straight comedians will conjure up the very worst of disastrous sexual liaisons, reminding you that staying in with a good book is sometimes the preferable option on Valentine’s Day. Expect bawdy, ribald humour and plenty of toe-curling honesty. The Valentine’s special will see the very best acts who have taken part in this show since its birth at the Edinburgh Festival (Shaggers has since been on tour in Australia), put together by creator Nik Coppin. The Valentine’s line-up will include Christian Schulte-Loh, Paul Revill, Sameena Zehra, Toby Adams and Larry Dean.

Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BX; leicestersquaretheatre.com; 0844 873 3433; Thursday February 14th 9pm; Tickets £10

Mending Broken Hearts, Bart’s Pathology Museum, Queen Mary Hospital, West Smithfield

You may not know this, but it is actually possible to die of a broken heart. Stress cardiomyopathy – or ‘broken heart syndrome’ – is a medically recognised condition that can occur after physical or emotional trauma. This Valentine’s event at Queen Mary’s Pathology Museum will explore the facts and fictions behind the much-romanticised broken heart. As well as hearing a discussion of the heart health benefits of chocolate and wine (while savouring complimentary servings of both), you’ll get to watch a heart surgery demonstration and check out the museum's full collection of heart specimens. There will also be the chance to try one of cake-artist Lily Vanilli’s utterly terrifying ( and too gruesome to show here) anatomical- heart- shaped cakes.

Barts Pathology Museum, Robin Brook Centre, West Smithfield, London EC1A 7BE; tinyurl.com/bartshearts; 020 7882 8766; Wednesday February 13th 6.30pm-8.30pm; Tickets £6

Hotel Heartbreak, Hemingford Arms, Islington

Immersive comedy night, Hotel Heartbreak, launches two nights after Valentine’s Day, courtesy of the Semi-Detached theatre company, who are known for creating bespoke gigs for specific locations. Single or loved-up, all are invited to this evening of off-beat interactive madness. Hotel staff (ie, the comic actors) will roam around offering their tales of love gone amiss, while various – as yet mysterious – activities will be put on to help couples and singles ‘find true happiness and meaning in their life.’ Expect bizarre dating games, crazy relationship advice and laughter.

Hemingford Arms, 158 Hemingford Road, London, N1 1DF; wegottickets.com/event/202412; facebook.com/hotelheartbreak; Saturday February 16th 7:30 doors, 8:30 start; Tickets £5

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Arcola Theatre, Dalston

Absolutely unrelated to Valentine’s Day and all the more distracting for that reason (if distraction is what you need), a new production The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari opens just in time to take your mind off not having a date. Based on the cult 1920s Film Noir classic of the same name, Simple8 theatre company recreate the strange, dark world of circus freaks, clowns, magicians and sleepwalkers. The original silent horror tells the story of an ordinary man whose life turns to chaos after a travelling fair rolls into his town, bringing with it a string of murders and the blurring of reality with dreams and illusions. Simple8’s production aims to capture the spirit of the film but adds original dialogue, new characters, live music and some extra twists to the storyline.

Arcola Theatre, 24 Ashwin St, London E8 3DL; arcolatheatre.com; 020 7503 1646; February 12th - March 16th evening performances 8pm; Tickets from £12

LoveSick Artwork © Sue Golden i-golden.tumblr.com

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