Fancy something a bit different than a house party or your local pub for New Year’s Eve? How about celebrating the dawn of a new year in a vintage nightclub and enjoying stunning views of the capital and its fireworks?
Returning to the Southbank Centre this month is A Vintage New Year’s Eve Party, an extravaganza of dancing, drinking, dining and more from HemingwayDesign. Curators Wayne, Gerardine and Jack Hemingway will transform five floors of the Royal Festival Hall into vintage nightclubs, dining rooms, a vintage hair and beauty salon and photo studios. At midnight, guests will have the opportunity to watch the capital’s iconic fireworks over the Thames from the riverside terrace (weather permitting).
Highlights of this year’s party include:
- The Torch Club
Enjoy the sounds of the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s with live big band music from Alex Meedham and his 18 piece orchestra. Meanwhile, DJ Daddy Rich will be spinning original vinyl and dance, while vintage dance tutors Mark & Hoc will be showing guests the moves from yesteryear.
- Bar Bonkers
Experience pure joy as you immerse yourself in the world of ’80s and ’90s, with the best pop, rock and dance anthems, musical bingo and karaoke. Cheer along to the sounds mixed by disco dancing DJ Anna Greenwood, Jess Indeedy, DJ Helix, while their dancing grannies deliver a special edition of Indeedy Musical Bingo.
- The TIKI Bar
Sip colourful cocktails while gazing over stunning views of the River Thames in a very tropical pop-up. Listen to the sounds of 1950s exotica Martin Green and DJ Martin Karminsky while revellers show off their samba and mambo skills, as hula girls do the limbo.
- The Studio
Explore the history of disco as The Studio revisits some of the greatest club nights from the mid ’70s to the early ’80s. Partiers will be treated to the sounds of funk and disco, to electro and Northern Soul.
Throughout the evening, top Jive teacher Andrew Hall will help guests learn the Jive basics, while DJ Mr Jinx will be hitting the decks and The Jive Romeros will be mixing classic American and early British rock ‘n’ roll in Let It Rock. After midnight, The Clore Ballroom will become a cabaret club with live performances and vintage dancing and music.
In addition to the wealth of entertainment, there are also some dining packages available to add on to your ticket. Guests can feast on a three-course meal and have the use of a reserved table by the main ballroom floor for the whole night and access to a dedicated bar. Or if you want something lighter, there is also a buffet dining option.
- A Vintage New Year’s Eve Party takes place on 31 December 2017 from 7pm until late. At Royal Festival Hall, Belvedere Road, South Bank, SE1 8XX. Nearest station: Waterloo. Tickets: Party £99 (second release), £119 (final release), Add buffet for £35, Add dining, reserved table all night and access to dedicated bar for £85. For more information and tickets, visit the Southbank Centre website or phone 020 3879 9555.
For a guide to what else is on in London in December, click here.
This October, the team behind Cahoots are taking their underground revelry to a whole new level. The secret Soho basement bar is bringing their special brand of 1940s fun and frolics to an underground party at The Vaults in Waterloo.
In the Victorian arches below Waterloo station will be an evening of vintage post-war fabulousness, with live music, 1940s costumes, food and plenty of cocktails. Upon arrival, guests will be checked in at a 1940s ticket office with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut Champagne. To line their stomachs, there will be war-time rations of classic British grub, such as fish-finger sandwiches and sausage rolls. Among the all-inclusive drinks on offer will be Grey Goose, Jack Daniel’s and Bombay Sapphire black-market cocktails.
The Vaults will be transformed into a WWII bunker with plenty of fun and games going on in the coves and tunnels. The main Blitz Room will feature live bands, swing dancers and retro DJs alongside a flow of Cahoots cocktails. For a more intimate experience, people can cosy up and enjoy a Cockney singalong in the 1940s coffee shop, Grey Goose Espresso Martini Bar. If you’re really looking to let loose, head to the Swing House, with Cahoots DJ The Roustabouts keeping the party swinging. And finally, if you’re needing a breather, the hidden Gentlemans Jack Room will provide some respite and a quiet cocktail or two.
- Cahoots Underground Knees Up takes place on Friday 6th October 2017 from 7pm – 1am. At The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo, SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. Tickets: Early bird £85, Regular from £95 (includes all cocktails and food). Forties dress seriously encouraged. For more information and tickets, visit the Cahoots website.
For the latest guide to what else is on in London, click here.
The rise in Speakeasy and hidden bars in the capital shows just how much of an appetite we Londoners have for secret revelry. So why not take things once step further and immerse yourself in the 1920s spirit at The Prohibition Party. The long-running event is celebrating its 10th birthday with its most fabulous party yet. Expect flappers, cads and cocktails galore in a night of dancing, drinking and gambling.
Guests are invited to sneak into secret and intimate rooms with a password to keep the feds away. There will be live bands, gramophone DJs, silent cinema, dance troupes and gambling tables. To keep up the pretense of Prohibition, the cocktail menus will be hidden in books while drinks are served in teacups. Aside from the main venue, there will be hidden bars and a secret party room for you to seek out.
Revellers will be encouraged to dress in their finest vintage wares, with lots of tassels, pearls, Mary Janes, tuxes and spats for an evening of 1920s opulence. Early arrivals (7pm-8pm) can have the chance to learn the Charleston at a dance class with the gang from Swing Patrol.
The event is organised by Bourne & Hollingsworth, known for their fabulous parties, bars and restaurant. Along with their landmark The Prohibition Party – they are also behind The Blitz Party, Dark Circus, Cocktails In The City, SS Atlantica and The Chap Olympiad.
- The Prohibition Party takes place on Saturday 30 September from 8pm-2am. Tickets from £30. The Vaults, Leake Street, Waterloo SE1 7NN. Nearest station: Waterloo or Lambeth North. For tickets, visit the Prohibition Party website.
For a guide to what else is on in September, click here.
Why travel may be cheaper and more accessible these days, you can’t deny it was a lot more glamorous back in the 1930s. This Bank Holiday, why not sail back in time to the Golden Age of Travel on the SS Atlantica? On Saturday 28 May, the Silver Sturgeon will be transformed into a Thirties cruise liner for an evening voyage along the Thames. Hosted by Bourne & Hollingsworth, there will be live bands, cabaret acts, floorshows, dancing and drinks.
Think of Agatha Christie (without the murders!) as you don your finest garbs and quaff a glass of champers on deck as you watch the sun setting and cruise past London’s iconic landmarks. The river yacht will be given a 1931 makeover with curving balustrades, portholes and pristine white tablecloths. There will be three bars, serving classic cocktails and plenty of champagne.
The entertainment will follow a traditional 1930s ship itinerary when the elite would party the night away on the high seas. Guests will take to the dancefloor as live bands and singers bring the music of the era to life. Or step back and watch spectacular floorshows or cabaret acts.
Guests are expected to wear ‘At Sea Formalwear’. Men are encouraged to dress in dinner suits with starched collars, while the women should think of silk, fur and Art Deco jewellery as they recreate the glamour of Thirties screen stars Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn or Vivien Leigh.
- SS Atlantica sets sail on Saturday 28 May 2016. Embarkation 8pm at The Savoy Pier, cruise departs 9pm. Nearest station: Embankment or Charing Cross. Tickets: £35 (general admission) or £40 (general admission and dance class at 7pm). For tickets phone 0207 724 1617 or visit the SS Atlantica website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in May, click here.
To many of us, the chance of winning something in a sporting event seems rather far-fetched. How many of us would love to win the London Marathon, but the lure of another pint of cider and a five-course tasting menu at the new pop-up is just too powerful?
Well, for those lacking in athletic ability, The Chap Olympiad could be right up your street. Returning to London on 11 July, Britain’s most eccentric sporting event will celebrate ‘sporting ineptitude and immaculate trouser creases’. Hosted by The Chap magazine and Bourne & Hollingsworth (famous for Prohibition, The Blitz Party and 90s: The Playback Party), the day will feature sporting events, live music, side shows and traditional British food and drinks… all while dressed in dapper, vintage style.
The events for the 2015 tournament include:
– Gentlemen’s Club Golf: contestants must hit a bowler hat into a large fishing net using a walking stick.
– Swooning: one for the ladies. A line of chaps faces a line of chapettes, and the chaps have to induce the ladies to swoon through any means possible.
– Tea Pursuit: contestants cycle around the track transferring a cup of tea from one rider to the next. The winning team will be decided by the measure of tea remaining in the cup.
– Not Playing Tennis: gents or ladies seated in armchairs play a game of tennis without getting up. The tennis ball is suspended on a wire strung between two hat stands.
– Bread Basketball: 12 contestants are invited to dine at a table in the middle of the track. A team of servants at each end of the table engage in playing basketball with the bread and the breadbasket, across the table, while the dinner guests try to get served.
– Moustache Wrestling: two contestants must pluck a single hair from their opponent’s lip weasel. If the whole moustache comes off, the opponent is immediately disqualified for twirling under false pretences.
– Briefcase Phalanx: a line of ten chaps and chapettes, dressed for the office and clutching briefcases and handbags, creates a phalanx. Lone contestants must charge at them and try to break through to the secretary on the other side.
– Bakewell Battles: contestants fight it out armed only with silver cake slices and Bakewell tarts.
– The Pipeathlon: six contestants complete a 10-yard course using three disciplines – pipe smoking, cycling and being carried by their servants.
– Umbrella Jousting: two contestants, armed only with brollies and briefcases, must go at one another on bicycles and attempt to knock each other off.
When you’re not trying your hand at the events, guests will be entertained by big bands, quartets, pianists and cabaret singers, as well as radio plays, country fair side-shows and lawn games. Bourne & Hollingsworth will be providing their classic cocktails, as well as beer, wine and soft drinks, while lunch and supper will be served for hungry guests. Ticket holders will be encouraged to come in period dress and immerse themselves in a rather more gentlemanly and ladylike way to live.
- The Chap Olympiad takes place on Saturday 11th July 2015 at Bedford Square Gardens, Bloomsbury, WC1B 3ES. Nearest station: Goodge Street. From 12pm until dusk, games begin at 1pm. Tickets: £25 (sold in advance via Ticketporte or tel: 020 7636 8228). For more information, visit the Chap magazine website or Bourne & Hollingsworth.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
Retro has always been popular, with many of us revisiting former decades such as the 1920s, 1950s and 1970s. However, it is only recently that enough time has passed for us to be able to revisit the 1990s. However, unlike many of the other decades where we only have old photos and history books to guess what it would be like, most of us actually remember the 1990s. There were various big music movements over the decade – Britpop, grunge, R&B and of course, the Spice Girl’s cheesy pop, with many classic tunes of the time no doubt remaining on your playlists today.
Event organising supremos Bourne & Hollingsworth have already won over many fans with their Blitz, Prohibition and Dark Circus parties. With the ’90s dominating this season’s fashion trends, it’s the perfect time to revisit the decade in all it’s forms – music, fashion and drinks at Playback: The 90s Party.
Over the late May Bank Holiday Weekend, an East London warehouse will be transformed into a ’90s pleasure palace, inspired by hotspots of the decade such as The Viper Room, Ministry Of Sound, and Supernova Heights. The venue will be split into two large spaces, including a games room inspired by Nintendo, dance podiums and a screen showcasing classic films and VJ mash-ups from the decade. Guests will be encouraged to get down to their favourite tracks in a ’90s break dance-off.
DJs will be blasting music from the era so there will be something for everyone with pop, rock, and hip-hop all covered. There will also be special guests from the ’90s performing live. Dotted around the venue will be cocktail bars with Bourne & Hollingsworth bartenders serving up iconic concoctions from the ’90s including Frozen Daiquiris, Pina Coladas, Wibbles and Blue Lagoons.
Of course, the event will be fancy dress so revisit your old tribe – be it grunge girl/guy, rock God, preppy freshman, wannabe rapper or technicolour raver. Ladies, think slip dresses, body suits and high-waisted denim, while gents – it may be time to dig out the flannel, ripped jeans, Adidas tracksuits, acid brights and bucket hats. There will also be a hair and make-up stand at the bash should you need some help to create your look.
- Playback: The 90s Party takes place at The Laundry, 2-18 Warburton Road, London Fields, E8 3FN. Nearest station: London Fields. Take place on Friday 22 and Saturday 23rd May 2015, from 8pm-2am. Tickets: £25 (strongly recommend buying in advance as likely to sell out). For more information and tickets, visit the Playback party website.
UPDATED: Playback: The 90s Party will return to East London on Saturday 4 July 2015.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
For a review of brunch at the Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, click here.
I’m always on a lookout for a bar with a difference and unlike the other themed drinking establishments in the capital, Soho’s newest nightspot celebrates one of my favourite things – London itself. Playing up to the building’s history as a former World War II shelter, Cahoots is an underground basement bar which takes guests back in time to the 1940s. Located in Soho, Cahoots has been styled as an abandoned underground station in post-war London, where those in the know come to party.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the bar’s launch party recently as the premise really excited me. My blogging name is Metro Girl… the bar is underground themed.. surely it’s got to be a match made in heaven? The bar’s entrance is subtle from the street, but once entering and heading down the wooden escalator-style steps (which prompted flashback to riding the tube as a child in the ’80s) we were greeted by a doorman (who in character and in a rather spiffing accent, old chum), told us the station was ‘closed’. We played up to it and said ‘we had an appointment’ and were shown the way in. The interior of the bar is pretty amazing – along with a recreated tube carriage (where we subsequently ended up sitting in most of the night), there were vintage-style signs from both the London Underground and the post-war years. Sandbags, bunting, and waiters dressed in vintage clothing furthering the vibe. We parked ourselves in the carriage with our drinks resting on an old suitcase which doubled as a table. The theme continued through to the toilets, with 1940s street sound effects adding to the atmosphere.
The cocktail menu is extensive and unique, with influences from popular drinks from the 1940s, as well as unusual ingredients such as tea leaves, beetroot and Oxo cubes. Cocktails are served in a variety of vessels, such as tin cans, Thermos flasks and milk bottles, ranging from £7-£9. I tried quite a few cocktails, but my favourite was a ‘Vera Lynn’, a fruity gin concontion which came served in a lovely green china version of the wartime dame in her heyday. There’s also an impressive sharing cocktail for groups, the Tanqueray No.10 Station Clock, where you dish out your booze from a giant hollow clock.
As well as the interiors and cocktails, there is also great entertainment with swing bands and dancers performing on many evenings. We were encouraged to try a bit of dancing, but I politely declined over fears of making a fool of myself, but some fellow guests were game and did a good job. The music was a mix of jazz, swing and lindy-hop, so you really feel like you’ve stepped in a time machine. Although this may seem like an immersive experience, we enjoyed ourselves so much I could see Cahoots becoming a regular drinking den for me and my pals. For those looking for something a bit different for a night out, I can highly recommend Cahoots. As long as you’re looking for adventure and are open to embracing the strong theme, head underground. Just don’t tell everyone…
- Cahoots, 13 Kingly Court, Soho, W1B 5PW. Nearest tube [apart from Cahoots obviously… ;-)]: Oxford Circus. For more information, visit the Cahoots website.
For more of Metro Girl’s bar and restaurant reviews, click here.
To read about Metro Girl’s visit to the disused tube station Aldwych, click here.
There’s many high-profile cycling events in the capital like the Tour de Britain and RideLondon. But let’s face it, the Lycra cycling costumes aren’t the most stylish of ensembles. Well, for those looking for a cycle ride with a difference, April sees the return of The Tweed Run.
The Tweed Run is a must for fans of vintage and cycling, with the 7th annual event combining the two to create one of the most stylish events in the UK. Participants dress in their best 1920s and 1930s tweed attire as they cycle through the historic streets of London. Spectators can expect to see the likes of penny-farthings, vintage two-wheelers and contemporary pedal-powered contraptions. Speed demons need not apply, as guests will be stopping off along the way at various landmarks to enjoy a cup of tea and a picnic in the park before ending the day with a knees-up in an art deco ballroom for the closing ceremony.
Although places for the Tweed Run are now filled, you can join riders at the closing ceremony, hosted by Bourne & Hollingsworth at the Bloomsbury Ballroom on Saturday evening. In the stunning location, vintage-dressed cyclists and revellers will enjoy an evening of delicious cocktails and food and live music.
- The Tweed Run takes place on Saturday 18 April 2015, starting at Trafalgar Square at 11am. Although tickets for cyclists are now sold out, there are £20 tickets available for the Bourne & Hollingsworth’s Tweed Run Awards Ceremony on Saturday evening. For more information and tickets, visit The Tweed Run website or Bourne & Hollingsworth.
For a guide to what else is on in London this month, click here.
For a review of brunch at the Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, click here.
Vintage has never been bigger and with the release of The Great Gatsby movie last year, it appears the roaring ’20s have been… well roaring again. There is now a host of Art Deco and Speakeasy-themed bars in London as entrepreneurs catch on to the soaring popularity of drinkers wishing they were in another time.
Taking the 1920s theme a step further is The Candlelight Club, a touring pop-up nightclub featuring live music, cocktails, dancing and overall ambiance from yesteryear. I had wanted to get tickets for some time, but finally got round to booking them when I was tasked with organising a hen party recently. The Candlelight Club takes place on sporadic dates in various secret London locations – with them only being revealed a few days before the event, so you need to keep an eye on the website for dates.
A group of nine of us booked our £20 tickets quite far in advance and were able to take advantage of the early bird deal. In addition to your entry, there are options to dine or have a table for an extra cost. As expected the dress code was 1920s so lots of fringing, pleats, spaghetti straps, feather boas, long pearls and Mary Jane shoes. Although hen parties – such as our group – are welcome, try to blend in with the theme so no bright pink sashes or inflatable genitalia! We bought our bride a ‘bride to be’ rosette badge which was the same colour as her dress which was a subtle and simple. The venues of The Candlelight Club tend to be different and all the time, and on the night in question we attended, was a stunning building built in the 1920s in West London lit by candlelight.
In addition to the Twenties theme, The Candlelight Club also has a further theme each night – ours was the Excelsior club, a grander version of the usual club with sweeping staircases, waiters in full suits and a grand venue. Leading the entertainment was Champagne Charlie and his Bubbly Boys with dancing by the Bee Knees. We arrived about an hour after opening and missed out on any unreserved tables, but managed to get a few chairs for our group. It was rather quieter than expected at first before the live music started and with many people eating, which left guests soaking in the atmosphere, having costume envy and sampling the vintage-themed cocktails or bubbly. I particularly liked the bubbly being served in coupé champagne glasses, which nestle in your hand a lot easier than regular champagne flutes.
The atmosphere really changed once Champagne Charlie came on stage with his band. His mix of cheeky humour and singing soon got the crowd going. He also came over to our group and teased the bride with some risqué jokes. We were also treated to several performances by the very glamorous Bee Knees dancers. When the band weren’t performing, there was a vintage DJ spinning tracks so you could attempt the Charleston. In between shimmying, we could be found at the bar which was staffed by very dapper and friendly mixologists and barmen.
I can highly recommend Candlelight Club for a unique night out. The entertainment was brilliant and the venue was totally stunning. It was a refreshing change to my usual weekends to step back into the 1920s for the evening.
- The Candlelight Club takes place on various dates in various secret locations. Tickets highly recommended to be booked in advance. Check out the Candlelight Club website for dates and tickets.
For a guide to other 1920s bars and venues in London, click here.
Or if you fancy a trip to the 1950s instead, check out Metro Girl’s review of the Jive Party at the Rivoli Ballroom.
Secret Cinema events usually stays off-radar, fulfilling the ‘secret’ element to the title. Since it was first started 10 years ago by founder Fabien Riggall, it has hosted immersive experiences and screenings of classic films such as Shawshank Redemption, Grease and Casablanca. However, with the announcement two months ago that Secret Cinema were going to host the biggest live cinema event in the UK, it brought the company to a whole new level of publicity. I have long wanted to go to SC event, but have been waiting for the right film. When I found out they were presenting my favourite film Back To The Future, I knew I had to go. Admittedly, SC did experience some negative press in the run-up, with ticket problems and having cancelled the initial week of screenings, Thursday’s launch in East London easily proved the doubters wrong.
In the run up to Secret Cinema’s launch of ‘Secret Hill Valley’, my friends and I were each assigned our own characters. I was a student at Hill Valley High School, where the movie’s characters of Marty, Lorraine, George and Biff all went to school in the either ’50s or ’80s. We were given a list of props to bring to round out our character, such as sunglasses, a family photo and homework. Although SC’s BTTF screenings had been in the national press, the premise is to keep as many details secret as possible so not to ruin the experience for subsequent visitors. In my review, I’ll only give away what has been covered in the national press and the photos included so I don’t ruin the many surprises of the evening.
The dress code is 1955, so my friends and I all gathered at an East London train station dressed in petticoats, crisp white shirts with high ponytails and gelled back hairstyles armed with cushions (to sit on during the screening) and our various props. At the entrance, we handed in our cameras and phones to try to preserve the secrecy of Hill Valley. Although my friends and I kept reaching for our phones when spotting great photo opportunities, we soon got used to not having them, which gave us the freedom to truly immerse ourselves in the experience. Anyway, no one had mobile phones in 1955, so that would have spoiled the look.
Just like our hero Marty McFly (Michael J Fox) did in the movie, we walked through the country lanes approaching the town of Hill Valley, past the houses of some of the famous residents, such as the Baines, McFly and Tannen families. SC has recreated Courthouse Square with great detail, full of the familiar shops and businesses from the movie, such as Lou’s Café, Roy’s Records and the Hill Valley Telegraph. The town was also full of residents (played by actors), many familiar from the film, such as bully Biff Tannen cruising the square looking for trouble with his gang of cronies. Admittedly there were a lot of queues for the eating establishments, but with a couple of thousand people in attendance, this was inevitable. Visitors had 3 hours to enjoy the sights and sounds of Secret Hill Valley before the main event – the film’s screening – took place. This is where is helps to bring a cushion or blanket so you can park yourself on the grassy square of Hill Valley and watch the action on the big screen of the Courthouse – complete with its clock frozen in time at 10.04pm when it was struck by lightning. Following the screening, there is a chance to rock your socks off at the Enchantment Under The Sea dance in the High School, where George and Lorraine finally kissed for the first time in the movie, ensuring Marty’s existence ahead in 1985.
Tickets for the event are £53 which does sound steep – but this is more than a film screening. When you enter the life-sized town that SC have created and the large cast helping to transport you back to 1955, you soon realise why the pricing is such. However, all five people in my group of friends who attended and myself all agreed we would happily pay to return – it was such a brilliant experience.
- Secret Cinema Presents Back to the Future runs until 31 August 2014 and tickets are available for dates from 14-31 August via Secret Cinema’s official site.
For a review of Secret Cinema’s screening of The Great Dictator, click here.