You’ve probably already heard Secret Cinema are putting on their most extravagant, most ambitious project yet this year. If you haven’t you really must live in a galaxy far, far away.
For the whole summer Secret Cinema will be screening The Empire Strikes Back at a secret location (obviously) at an event that’s rumoured to be twice the size of last year’s Back to the Future experience at the Olympic Park.
You’d think recreating the entire town of Hill Valley last year, or reconstructing huge Stars Wars sets this year was a big enough challenge, but apparently not. Secret Cinema have stepped into the nightlife business with the launch of Secret Nightclub. And to coincide nicely with their current Star Wars theme, you can hazard a guess as to what wretched hive of scum and villainy they’re basing it on.
Arriving at the secret location (we won’t say exactly where it is, let’s keep some mystery, yeah?), we joined the end of a queue - so no change there then from your typical London bar. But unlike most nightclub queues we didn’t mind this one. Instead of a bouncer waving about a clipboard there was a friendly, if a slightly mischievous Jawa inspecting the line, making sure everyone was behaving. He’s the first signal you’re about to step into a very different sort of club. Before long a strange, almost cyborg-like character approached us, and said she could get us in quickly, and pointed towards a gap in the fence. A little hesitant at first, convinced that it’s a trap, we took her up on the offer. With some forceful help from the Jawa we were through the fence and into the building. As is tradition with Secret Cinema our phones were taken from us and put in heat-sealed bags. They apologised for this and said because there had been reports of ‘Imperial troops in the area they had to block all communication signals.’ Fair enough really. You can’t be too careful when there are Stormtroopers about.
After being led through a narrow corridor by what looked like a Tatooine native, we were in the club. In front of us was the Mos Eisley Cantina. There’s the recognisable round bar, dark corners where you can make deals with some of galaxy’s most wanted outlaws, and then of course, there’s Figrin D’an and the Modal Nodes playing their most popular hit. Later in the evening another more traditional human band took to the stage with their earthly instruments. Not particularly in keeping with the galactic theme but I guess the Cantina Band can’t keep playing all night long, and we’d probably all tire of that repetitive tune. Yeah you know the one.
It’s highly encouraged to get involved in the immersive element of Secret Nightclub. If the barman is rude to you, you be rude right back. If Figrin D’an approaches you, you have a dance with him. If a fight between the cantina’s owner and a patron breaks out in front of you, just go along with it. And when an otherworldly being invites you into her den to sell you some spice, you go with her. We ended up with a little bag of ginger. But with so much going on you won’t be there to see it all. One night you might see Han Solo confronted by Greedo, or even Boba Fett relaxing in a private booth.
On to the bar, there’s a wide array of cleverly-named cocktails to choose from, all reasonably priced, served in anything from an old tin to an odd blue bottle. We highly recommend the Jawa Juice, we’re pretty sure it had vodka and apple in it.
Taking up three floors and a few ‘secret’ rooms, there’s plenty to see and do at Secret Nightclub. You can gamble with some beans and play confusing intergalactic card games with alien women on the second floor. Or if you fancy somewhere quiet, there’s a secret Arabian-esque ‘chill out’ room with plush bean bags and comfy sofas to relax on.
Even if you haven’t got tickets to Secret Cinema this summer the Secret Nightclub is well worth a visit for any Star Wars fan. And if you are going to their main event, this is the perfect place to get you in the right mood, as well as give you some great ideas to help you plan your costume. Scarfs are extremely popular at the Cantina it seems.
We’re already planning a return visit to the Cantina nightclub, decked out like Han Solo, the night before we head to Secret Cinema, and urge you to do the same.
The Secret Nightclub is open Thursday -Saturday 8.30pm - 1.30am and Sundays 1pm - 10pm secretnightclub.org [email protected].
Secret Cinema presents Star Wars:: The Empire Strikes Back takes place from 4th June – 27th September 2015. Tickets are available here: www.secretcinema.org/tickets.