Up until last weekend, I’d never been to Secret Cinema. In fact, I’d describe myself as a bit of a cynic. It’s not that I thought the concept was bad, I just didn’t ‘get it’ enough to spend up to £65 on a ticket. I’d rather just watch a movie I love on DVD and spend the money on six-and-a-half gourmet burgers, five gallery visits or a Beyoncé concert. So, when I was offered a free ticket for 'Dirty Dancing' last week I didn’t really know what to expect. Here are five things I learned.
1. People really go in for fancy dress
I saw people wearing outfits that added up to Baby’s entire wardrobe from the movie. I saw people dressed as the old couple who nick things. I saw huge amounts of watermelon prints, as well as ’50s dresses. The effort everyone made definitely added to the atmosphere as much as Secret Cinema’s set design. On the other hand, I found walking in fancy dress as a huge group from the station where we met to the secret venue excruciatingly awkward.
2. It’s hard to know where to look during the screening
Without revealing any spoilers about the performance: there’s so much going on both from within the audience and on stage that it’s hard to know where to look. Should I watch the real life action or the on-screen antics? This dilemma – while obviously a positive thing – was more stressful than I anticipated. As was etiquette surrounding when and if to stand up and dance, potentially blocking the screen for those behind you.
3. It’s weird not being able to take pictures of things
Since 'Dirty Dancing' is set in 1963, there’s a strict ‘no phones’ policy at the Secret Cinema event. It means you can’t Instagram, which feels so unnatural given the attention to detail of the staging is incredible – from the cocktail names to surprise scenes being acted out to beautiful set design. It’s surreal to be in place that’s so perfectly photogenic and not be able to take pictures. My hand kept itching to reach for my phone. Turns out lots of people felt the same way – one guest tweeted about getting kicked out for taking pictures.
4. Sometimes the price tag doesn’t feel worth it
Tickets to this year’s event started at £65 (£38.50 for concessions). That’s huge. Especially considering there were some organisational issues when it came to getting in. We had to queue for an hour and a half down an A-road in order to make it on site, and there were also long queues for toilets and food stalls. Talking of food stalls, there are also lots of places to spend even more money at Secret Cinema – from Kellerman’s merch to a crazy golf course. I was quite shocked by how much people were willing to spend.
5. It is genuinely great watching a film with loads of fans
The atmosphere during the film’s iconic scenes was genuinely as electric as watching a legendary artist in concert. Plus, because 80 percent of the crowd are female, it felt like a giant hen party in the best possible way.