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Why The Hobby Is The New Side Hustle

Taking up ballet as an adult? Making knitting cool again? 2020 is the year of discovering our hobbies


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What’s your favourite hobby? I pose the question as someone who had to think long and hard about this one myself. From the ages of 8-13 years old I used to spend hours upon hours writing short stories - with zero intention (I believe) of becoming a published author. This was creativity for its own sake. It was fun. It was ‘my thing.’ I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that hobbies – described an activity that someone does for pleasure when they are not working - has been taken over somewhat by the side hustle (that potentially multi-million-pound idea bubbling away; squeezed in alongside maintaining a regular 9-5). And, after seeking council, the conclusion was Netflix bingeing doesn’t count as a hobby (sob).

No wonder millennials are so often referred to as Generation Burnout: switching off from the buzz of daily life and doing something that isn’t side-lined with enterprising endeavours seems like a hard task. Labelled under the category of “children’s pastime.”

One twitter post that went viral recently, from Kashia Dunner, sums up the need to reclaim the long sought-after ‘me time’ perfectly. “Everything doesn’t have to be a hustle, side hustle, or money-making enterprise,” she wrote. “Sometimes it’s just fun to do something because it brings you joy, peace, relaxation, or allows you to be creative. Let’s rediscover hobbies in 2020.” In need of a little more ‘at your leisure’ inspo? From taking up ballet as an adult to those with more macabre sensibilities, there’s something for everyone to try this year. 




“I started knitting after I joined a workshop with Nordic brand, Holzweiler. They collaborated with family run knit brand Skappel who have been knitting as a family ever since they were kids. These ladies taught me and my friend Molly Constable how to knit and we’ve become obsessed. I can’t seem to knit anything wearable yet (I’m not a natural with these kind of crafts). But my friend Molly has become really good and knits beanies for the homeless now in New York! It’s so therapeutic and I find it quite punk to be able to knit!” – Emma Breschi, model & advocate for UN Women UK


Vow to get crafty? On the 3rd Thursday of the month, Knit with Attitude in Stoke Newington (an independent shop which specialises in ethical and eco-friendly yarn for hand knitting and crochet) hosts a fun and friendly workshop. No experience necessary. @knitwithattitude



“I’ve always found cemeteries peaceful places that are ideal for contemplation, and seeing the names and inscriptions fires up my imagination, makes me wonder about their lives - what and who they loved - and how they spent their days. Also, Victorian cemeteries (in particular the “Magnificent Seven”) are undeniably beautiful, a place where so much money and skill were spent to honour the dead. This year, I’m going to be spending more time touring them, both because they are memento moris, and because I’m working on some creative projects and hope that the sparks of curiosity I feel in there fuels my writing.” - Madeleine Spencer – writer, podcaster and makeup-artist


Check out one of London's Magnificent Seven – a collection of grand Victorian cemeteries, scattered around the city, which include Abney Park and Highgate Cemetery.



A survey by the Association of British Climbing Walls estimates that from 2018 to 2019 has seen a 40 per cent increase in visits to climbing walls in the UK. So, what’s behind the recent surge or interest in bouldering (the niche sport is also making its Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020)? Alex McNamee, a 29-year-old artist from Oxford says it’s a “very welcoming environment - no matter how good or bad you are. My favourite part was learning how strong I actually was and trusting my hands to hold my whole body.” London-based musician, Jack, agrees: “I simultaneously revel in and fear the performative aspect of it,” he says. “The feeling of other people watching you quickly dissolves, however, as soon as you start your ascent. The process leaves no room to think of anything but itself, and your body either obeys or doesn’t. If and when you fail, the adrenaline negates embarrassment and you’re left with the amusing challenge of figuring out why. And aside from being helpful psychologically, it exercises the whole body.”


Play, work and unwind at Yonder, a co-working space with a dedicated climbing space in Walthamstow. @yondere17



“I used to do ballet weekly as a child, and loved the way it married discipline with dance, requiring flowing movements and a controlled core from the body,” Madeleine adds. “Last year was challenging, and my friend Rebecca Reid told me that ballet had been a crucial crutch for her during times of stress and encouraged me to join her at one of the classes she attends weekly. We went to the central school of ballet, and I was reminded of how uniquely dance soothes the body and absorbs negative thoughts; there is no time for anything but utter focus when you’re trying to do a perfect plié. We went to quite a few classes together, after which we’d have tea and gossip in a little Italian cafe, and I went home feeling much better about everything. This year, I’m picking it up again, and will make a concerted effort to do it often enough to earn one of the ‘beautiful’ stamps of approval the rather strict Aussie instructor metes out to students who’ve got a movement bang on.”


Book a beginner’s class at the Central School of Ballet in Farringdon for just £10. 



“I went up to grade 8 musical theatre at school and sang in a Jazz band and I really miss it. This year I want to have one-on-one classes at my house with my old singing teacher - working on technique and vocal cords. It’s something totally different to my day-to-day job as well and would be the perfect thing to switch up the usual routine. As well as this it also gives me something new to work towards.” – Naomi Barling, BURO. fashion editor


Book a private singing class with some of London’s top vocal coaches at Soho Vocal Tuition

main image: via instagram | @emmabreschi

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