It’s Thursday the 22nd January at around 10:00am. Up until now dry January has gone very well. Not a drop of mind altering liquid has touched my lips, except coffee, lots of coffee.
But in about 7 minutes, I’m going to receive an email from the themetraders’ Secret Party Team and all of that is going to change.
The secret location for our event has been unveiled to us as a North London tube station. Arrive here at 17:30 sharp and look for a lollipop lady holding a school bus sign.
So we head back to our office to drop off our things and, with a nod to some of the other companies still working away, head to the meeting point. Upon arrival I’m very much in that “I’m putting a two beer cap on tonight” mode. This, in its more literal sense, can also be known as ‘self-delusion mode’.
We give our names to the very, very, short lollipop lady. I’m still teetering on the edge of business mode (I have lots of modes), so I don’t mention how that must hinder her when leading similar sized children into the road.
“We’re sorry, the school bus has broken down, we’ve organised you a taxi”. So we hop into to a branded themetraders mobile with another bewildered guest amidst grumbles of, “there never was a school bus. These bloody immersive things, you can never tell what’s real”. I’m starting to feel like Michael Douglas in the Game and we haven’t even got out of the cab yet.
We arrive a short time later in a forecourt with a series of warehouses. Greeted by a cacophony of annoying American accents – that I pray to god are being put on – we’re shouted at for being late (we turned up ten minutes early!!!) and ushered upstairs with all the airs and graces of a kick up the arse!!!!
It’s safe to say, I’m already enjoying myself.
Traditional coat check-in, with a not so traditional cup of alcohol. No idea what it was?
We are then yelled at by a teacher to sit down in his classroom and “shut up”.
We chose the back of the class (obviously) and I started screwing up the paper we were given to throw at the geeks down the front – paper fight ensues.
With its traditional décor and equations scribbled all over the board I’m kind of expecting Good Will Hunting to waltz in any minute. It’s at this point my erstwhile colleague leans over and says “It’s a breaking bad theme”
Oooooooooooooooh. *activate emergency I knew that mode*
After a bit of banter with Teacher about classical music, the size of his appendages and the definition of a Twitter handle (he didn’t laugh when I said a German Composer of Social Media) we were fed a couple of shots (no idea what it was) and booted out.
Downstairs another accent greets me and the promise of a house party.
Once enough of us have bunched together a huge door is slid open to the sound of pumping house music. “Hey it’s Ben Affleck” another accent shouts at me and smashes my palm with a high-5.
Graffiti all over the walls, a sofa, DJ, oh and champagne beer pong. That’s me for the next 20 minutes.
After taking in A LOT of champers and a chat with an exceptional beard (and the fella on the end of it) it was time to move again, as “you’ve all spent too long in my house”.
All I’ll tell you about the next space is I got my jumper ironed by a nice young lady, threw about 10 china plates at a brick wall and had a drink (no idea what it was) in front of what might have been a vintage porn film.
Boiler suit on, goggles, pink towel (that wasn’t part of the kit, I stole it form somewhere) and into another warehouse. Smashing up fake (I hope) crystal meth with a hammer, eating it (no idea what it was). Cocktails. Neon paint. Brain melting.
Now we’re on a coach. Now we’re on a beach. Now we’re being fed. Now we’re drinking punch. Now I’m wearing eye glitter. Now I’m dancing to a Mexican band that look like something out of from Dusk til Dawn. Now I’m in a cab on the way home. Now I’m on the tube. Now I’m back in the office, sending emails (Sorry if you got one of these).
To me, I had been out until 5 in the morning and popped back into the office to send an email before going home to bed.
To the rest of the world, I had left the office at about 16:45 and turned up again before 20:30 covered in eye glitter, wearing a baseball cap, with pink towel round my neck, dribbling onto a Sainsbury’s meal deal.
In all, there can’t have been more than 40 people on the whole three hour whirlwind experience. Wondering where the financial value could possibly come in one-off events with such production value I decided to ask a few questions, when I’d recovered.
This was an ‘industry’ event: a showcase conceived by the magnificently eccentric themetraders. Whilst it has scope to be opened up to the public, it offers such force in the corporate world.
From brand experiences or experiential stunts, to team building and bespoke private parties.
At the moment it is being solely used to tempt potential new clients and to really treat those who have been working with themetraders on some big projects. The guest list is small and exclusive to ensure an engaging and personal experience. Almost every element of these events are conceived from themetraders in-house resources, which include a team of full time project managers, artists, creators, prop makers and technicians.
In essence: ‘WE’RE NOT JUST A PROP HIRE COMPANY’.
No. No you’re not! *holds head*
There is a great finale which I won’t spoil, as even with different themes they have a few staple moments that are becoming something of a trademark.
Due to the series’ format, the guest list remains intimate so tickets are not easy to come by. However, event professionals can apply to attend the next #secretpartyTT via www.secret-party.co.uk.
If you’re a fan of immersive entertainment, then this is as good as any.
It’s like getting plastered at the theatre and being part of the play.
I wonder if there was supposed to be a school bus….