This week, my friend Nicole and I literally got a little ‘lofty’ at the new space in West End. We’d been itching to get to Loft since it opened in November and it certainly doesn’t disappoint.

Loft replaces the old Uber where we had many an adventure once upon a time. And it’s certainly different.

As soon as we walk in, we get something we hadn’t expected – a Burlesque class rehearsing for a performance in the glass panelled, floor to ceiling windows that border the bar area.

Complete with feather boas, stiletto heels, and aerial twists and turns – the women (and one man) practice their moves for all of Loft to see.

I am instantly thrilled and delighted by a guaranteed show with my cocktails and this is why I love West End: Bohemian, adventurous, surprising and with an undercurrent of art and culture that literally bursts through the seems of anywhere you choose to venture. It may be found in the live music gigs at Archive below as much at it is found in your favourite Greek restaurant on Boundary Street – West End seems to ooze culture everywhere you turn.

Our evening at Loft was to prove no different.

The woman behind the Burlesque classes I learn is Lady Marlene – her School of Arts specialises in burlesque, pole, aerials and performance for an experience that will release your ‘inner showgirl’ and make your eyes sparkle (as I’m sure mine were as I stumbled across this on my casual Wednesday evening out).

After we drag ourselves away for a moment to remember that we did come to Loft for cocktails and dinner, we meet our barmen.

Brendon and James are two lovely, accommodating young chaps who ask us what we like to drink. No, not what we WOULD like to drink, what ingredients/liquors/variety of alcohol we like so that they can make us a unique cocktail experience.

We like this. A lot.

As we order our cocktails, we begin to chat – James is just that, a chatterbox and tells us it’s lucky he got a haircut yesterday since I’m taking his picture tonight (he is also a bit of a funny guy). He recently got home from Indonesia he tells us; where he spent some time visiting rice patties and coffee fields.

This conversation (albeit brief) cemented again in my mind the reasons why I love stepping out onto the streets of West End: the people – they are so unassuming, down to earth and have that charming ability to make you feel as though you haven’t just met them.

Brendon and James make me want to come back here, again and again, and it’s got nothing to do with the space being cool, hip (if I may say it), different and warm, which it certainly is, but more about these two that make us feel so at home on our first visit.

This was now three things I loved about this Wednesday evening: 1) Burlesque delight 2) Bespoke Cocktails and 3) the people we met.

That Wednesday, 13 February was just one of those great West End nights complete with everything I had hoped for: great food, cocktails, friendly people and also that which I hadn’t even thought to hope for – the knowledge that I too have a way to release my inner showgirl, and that I now know where I can go to do it…