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Lover: A date at York Hall - Championship Boxing and Facials

So I had ideally wanted to make my blog somewhere that was teaming with Christmas spirit and general yuletide merriment, but this post isn't actually a very Christmassy one, sorry. However, I am on my 19th quality street today as I type this, plus my third mulled wine and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is on in the background so there's that. As it is the 27th so definitely still Christmas everyone. No time for January blues just yet.

When Will and I first started going out, as I am sure many new couples do, we took it in turns to suggest date places and used to go to a fair bit of effort into finding something special and different, making lots of use of some of the fantastic blogs and online websites around (I particularly like the Nudge, and I know this great little place). It was so lovely discovering all these new and exciting places together, and sharing some weird and wonderful and delicious and drunken experiences as we fell in love. Just threw up a bit, sorry. How the heck do you say "fell in love" without it sounding cheesy and puke inducing?

Anyhoo, fast forward three or so years, and Will and I still make an effort to go out for dinner and drinks, and do some fun things, but often it is the same spots - the pub just round the corner, the Italian just down the road, we might treat ourselves to expensive steak but we pop into the nice steakhouse near work. I am way more lazy about how many tube stops I am happy to take to go on a date night, and Will to be honest was probably only going to pop up screenings of Miracle on 34th Street and wotnot to woo me. Now he has, there is no reason for him to go on pretending his ideal date night doesn't begin with red meat served somewhere less than 5 minutes away, and end with a bottle of red wine on the sofa whilst I watch him play GTA...

I wanted to bring back the fun date, and win back my power into talking Will into going to places that didn't sound like his cup of tea on the tin (too many idioms there, sorry). So I suggested, and he agreed, that every month one of us would plan a fabulous surprise date for the other, and we would take it in turns. The person who planned the date would also pay for it, ensuring that the worst case scenario if the other person didn't like the date was a couple of hours wasted, it wouldn't cost them a penny.

The first month, Will just suggested, as the bill arrived at our usual steak house, that he pay, and it be "his date". Totally missing the point, but the bill was a fair bit, and there were some over the knee boots I was eyeing up in Topshop, so I allowed it.

The second month, therefore, was mine for the choosing. I was pretty tempted to just take him to a musical in the west end, as that is like my perfect date, and I know I would probably be better off asking Will whether he wanted to come and get a pedicure with me, than if he wanted to book tickets to Matilda if he had any choice in the matter. (Although, actually come to think of it, he may well like a pedicure, he does care a fair bit about foot hygeine.) But I didn't want to kill the scheme before it properly had begun, so instead I had a think. Where would I love going, but Will wouldn't mind, and where would Will love going and I wouldn't mind?

For the I love going, and Will wouldn't mind, the obvious choice seemed to be a spa. He took me to an amazing spa for my birthday, and I know although he would never properly admit it, he had a lovely time, padding around in a gown, drinking prosecco in the hot tub, getting "a guy's facial".

For the Will would love going, and I wouldn't mind, the obvious choice seemed to be some sort of sport. As boys like sports right, and I don't mind live ones as it is a good excuse to drink lots of beer and eat hot dogs and wotnot.

And because I live in east London, the home to many a weird and wonderful establishment like breakfast places that only serve cereal, and cafes where you get to eat with cats, there is also a place which both hosts a spa and championship boxing matches (which has been around for more than 50 times as long as the cat and cereal cafe have been around put together).

Enter York Hall -  a Better Gym, spa.London, and an event space. It seemed to me the perfect date. We could spend a few hours padding around the steam rooms and saunas in spa.London before heading upstairs for a drink or two and a night of watching boxing.

Ok, granted it didn't work out quite perfectly. The spa that day was women's only for the steam room and saunas so I booked Will and I in for a facial - which was fabulous, but Will was none too happy as apparently he only has facials on holiday. Who knew.

The surprise highlight was actually the boxing. It started at 4:30 and ended at half 10, but somehow it kept my attention the whole way, and I wasn't even drunk. Here are some reasons boxing actually weirdly makes a great date, even for the most squeamish and unsporty of girls:

1. York Hall itself - built in 1929 it was such a special venue. Sure you can't bring your beer up to your seats with you (sad face) but if you hold yourself over the balcony, squint and ignore the spearmint rhinos girls holding up the "round 2.." signs, you could be back in the infamous east end of the 60s, watching the boxing before drinking some babychams and going to a dance.

How amazeballs is this grand room in York hall being used as a swimming pool? (The swimming pool today isn't like this one!)

2. The audience - ok, so I am 26, I wear a lot of topshop and quite a bit of vintage clothing, I like eyeliner and red lipstick, I drink craft beer and I write a blog, arguably I am a teeny bit of an east end hipster so what I am about to say is a bit hypocritical. But the east end is slowly becoming taken over by hipsters, which is not all bad, and provides us with lots of nice cocktail bars and a wider selection of finest cheese in tesco's, but I guess it is a bit sad that the east end is losing a bit of what made it the east end. At York Hall, you meet the proper east enders, groups of blokes who look like they have been coming to Saturday night boxing every night since 1968, and girls glammed up to the nines in platform heels and bodycon dresses. It's nice to know it is still there, behind the hipster layer of faux fur and ginormous man beards.

3. How nice the boxers are too each other - I guess if as they say football is a gentleman's game played by ruffians (no offence anyone) and rugby is a ruffian's game played by gentleman, then boxing must be a cold hearted criminal's game played by well... really nice blokes. Of course people are fighting and can do a lot of damage (one man got knocked out cold, he was ok in the end) and they look really terrifying when fighting. But actually - bar one man who I am sure tried to bite his contestant - they are so gentlemanly and such good winners and losers. Great sportsman really. As soon as the bell goes they break into a smile and give each other a hug, regardless  of whether they think they are winning or losing. It is really heart warming.

4. How nice the boxers look - so boxing definitely plays up to its reputation as a boy's thing, by having these women in thongs parading around.

Whatever. They are missing a trick, as the boxers show way more than the girls and they are muscly in a whole new way, there are muscles bulging in places I didn't even know people could have muscles. Even the really tiny ones, who weigh eight stone something (who weighs eight stones something??) but are super tonk. Which actually is really nice, because I guess boxing can be a thing for all boys - even if they are short and little, they can train and make it as a super lightweight boxer, so it is a nice inclusive sport in that way.

5. The length of the match - as I mentioned, I was there for 5 hours, which I am not going to lie, was a little too long. However, each of the matches are either 4 or 6 rounds of 3 minutes (less if someone gets knocked out) meaning it is really easy for it to keep your attention and you don't get bored as you see the sport in short little bursts.

Probs not making it as a sports photographer in the near future.

6. The music - each boxer gets to choose what song they come on to, and some of them make some excellent choices. I basically chose who I wanted to win each match on song choice alone - my two favourites were "Return of the Man" and Jennifer Hudson's "Spotlight". How the boxer empathised with the lyrics, "Are you a man who loves and cherishes and cares for me? Or are you a guard in a prison of maximum security?" I do not know, but I am so glad he did.

So how much will it cost you for a date in York Hall?

Spa. London has a range of treatments available, starting with a 3 hours spa experience (going around the steam, sauna and relaxation rooms) at £25. The Elemis Clarity facial is £38, and you can check out spa.London at it's various locations by visiting here.

You can book tickets for Championship boxing on Ticketmaster here.

For more date ideas, check out my lover page. 

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