Although I’ve read about some of the amazing events that Secret Cinema put on, I’ve never been to one. I suppose not being a big film-buff that I was reluctant to spend a lot of money on a ticket to see a film I’ve probably never heard of and won’t like (I’m thinking of the Alien one in particular). I was much more keen when they started doing immersive events where you knew in advance what the firm was, but none of them had particularly captured my imagination (I hate Dirty Dancing for example, girl crime, I know).
Maybe about a year ago the Secret Cinema social media channels started posting gifs which hinted that a Moulin Rouge event might be on its way.
Now, I love Moulin Rouge, it’s one of my favourite films, which is unusual because I hate musicals, however, I love Baz Luhrmann. When we were in middle school my friends and I watched Romeo and Juliet (the Baz Luhrmann version with Leonardo di Caprio and Clare Danes) and were a little bit obsessed with the clever twists on the story. So when Moulin Rouge came out I went to see it in the cinema. I remember liking it but not being quite sure what to make of it on first viewing. However, one friend in our group was particularly obsessed with it (her sixth form ball dress was in the style of the ‘smouldering temptress’ dress from the film) and so we ended up watching it as part of group sleepovers. I fell fully in love with it (and Ewan, *sigh*).
I couldn’t think of a film more suited for an immersive experience, it’s visually stunning.
I made sure I was on the mailing list and the day that tickets went on sale we booked ourselves two tickets, an early birthday present to me. We booked tickets some time late last year and it was a few months after that that we received our first email, asking us to sign up. We were allocated characters and provided with a dress code befitting our ticket level (there were three different price brackets and accordingly, three different types of role/character), together with a backstory, a list of people our characters liked and disliked and certain Calls to Action.
Last night our visit to Montmartre finally rolled around and I couldn’t have been more excited. We got ourselves all dolled up in our finery for our night out. As cameras are banned inside, we took a few quick photos in our stairwell before walking down to Shadwell to get the DLR (where I realised I’d forgotten my gloves). I have never felt so self-conscious or bathycolpian walking from our flat down to the station. My boyfriend had gone all out and grown a beard which he then shaved off the day of the event into a moustache. As for my boyfriend, apologies for the weirdly cropped photo. I usually keep him off the blog and don’t refer to him by name because writing this blog is my choice and under my control, not his. Plus, he isn’t on any other social media and I have to respect that. However, this is an exception because we never put this much effort into anything and it’s worth showing off. Unfortunately the crop for privacy means you miss the great top hat, you’ll have to imagine it!
In the spirit of Secret Cinema, I am not going to give anything away about what’s inside (Timeout have a sneak peek here), save to say that it was unbelievably good, I was blown away by how good the live action stuff was and the whole experience was amazing – I gasped, laughed and might have even shed a little tear. The staff all added to the experience, from the first one we saw outside Canning Town tube station to the bar staff, to the actors wandering around, they were all incredible.
Fresh from our experience, I thought I’d offer some spoiler-free advice:
- Watch the film first. I imagine that most people going are going because they’re fans, but it’s conceivable that people will go along with fans for the experience. This is NOT the time to see it for the first time. There will be background noise around you during the film (although for the most part people were pretty respectful). Go with an idea of the plot.
- There is a Secret Cinema online shop selling everything you need for your costume, however, don’t forget other places like charity shops or ebay, they’re likely to be cheaper. I found my little beaded capelet on ebay for only £3.99 and my corset for just over £10.
- Don’t feel like you have to stick slavishly to the dress code. I can’t speak for other Secret Cinema events but at least for Moulin Rouge, although it helps to wear something befitting your role (Aristocrat, Child of the Revolution or Creature of the Underworld) it doesn’t really matter. If you have an Aristocrat ticket you will be marked out so won’t lose any of the benefits you’ve paid for.
- Don’t overdress – this is 1899, aircon doesn’t exist yet, it is warm in the Moulin Rouge!
- Don’t worry if you don’t have all the props. You’ll be asked to bring things but we didn’t use the one we brought or missed out because we didn’t bring another.
- Do take a credit/debit card though – they don’t accept cash, so if you want to buy drinks or food (it’s French themed street food) or souvenirs of your night then you’ll need a card.
- The scale is vast, make sure to explore and really get into the middle of things. However, watch for changes, so if one area quietens down, chances are there’s something going on elsewhere – follow the crowd!
- If you have a last train to catch, take a watch! Your phone will be sealed in a grey plastic bag to prevent the temptation to take photos/spend the night on social media, it’s an awesome rule, but we came out completely lost as to what time it was.
- EMBRACE IT! It’s incredible and unlike anything else you’ll do.
If you didn’t get tickets in the first round then you haven’t missed out, new dates were added the other day, so you can still experience Paris, 1899!
Vive la vie de boheme!