Running through the pouring rain of East London, on my way to Prohibition’s 2016 comeback, with a peacock feather sticking out of my head, I was thrilled to see a number of straggler flappers ahead also trying to make their way to the elusive secret location – Mr. Dossier and I were afraid we were totally lost while getting a number of bemused looks on the cobbled back streets.
We followed the tasselled dresses and pearls and soon found our way to Prohibition’s entrance where we were ushered downstairs into an expansive basement lair.
If you’ve seen my preview, you’ll know that Prohibition has revamped itself to become a biannual rather than monthly event, as was previously the case. This new outlook has brought with it extra goodies, ensuring the wonderful concept doesn’t get stale (to be honest, I don’t think it ever could!) Attendees now have the choice of three tickets on the night, general admission, admission with a cocktail master-class prior to the main event, or admission with dance lessons before things kick off.
As I don’t have an ounce of coordination or rhythm in my body, I decided to give the cocktail master-class a go. The venue had two rooms with three bars and the class was hosted in one of these main rooms. This made it a little hard to hear our instructor as guests started to arrive, filling up the tables around us and I felt that some more intimacy was definitely required here. Nonetheless we learned some tips along the way (like how to make flavoured sugar syrups with teas to giving your cocktail a whole new depth of flavour as well as how to expertly shake a drink) and got to sample the cocktails we each all made, including the classic Raspberry Collins and morish Mary Pickford (served in a teacup!).
After, we sat sipping more of the delicious cocktails taking in our amazing surroundings. The combination of fantastic outfits, candlelit tables, bare stone walls, smoke machines, roaring live jazz and blackjack dealer made us feel literally like we had stepped into a time machine. Here, organisers and attendees go all out – fine details such as cocktail menus hidden inside time weathered books were duly noted.
As the night progressed music alternated between a DJ playing the sounds of the era, and a live jazz band. Thinking things couldn’t get any better, it turned out even more entertainment had been lined up for ticketholders. As we danced and spun and just generally moved our bodies to the music a breakaway section of Charleston dancers whipped the crowd into a tizzy. At first I thought these were just super enthusiastic Prohibition-goers giving it their best shot but such was their stamina and skill I realised they were part of proceedings. Phew! Nothing to feel too inadequate about then!! Honestly though these dancers really were marvellous, and as the crowd circled them, clapping to the beat, it was clear to see that some were keen to get involved while others were simply hooked on the moves – legs a blur, girls being thrown into the air, spinning and landing back down with the precision of a feline.
Later a burlesque performer got everyone’s attention with her striptease that was as daring, whimsical, electrifying and enjoyable as Jay Gatsby would have surely enjoyed. Proving to be almost just as popular as her, the blackjack dealer in the corner of the second room was kept busy all night. It’s probably just as well that only fake money was accepted – oh yeah, we all got a couple “hundred dollars” free gratis on entry to encourage our gambling addiction in this era of deep depression and high inflation. We did have a good running actually, winning up to and over $1,000 in total but as always when you push your luck, it soon went downhill! Proving to be a dab hand and quick at sums, the dealer kept everyone happy and entertained with his cheeky chappy demeanour.
Nearby, snacks were available to keep energy levels high through all this merriment. In keeping with the theme of the night, the evening’s food, which included bagels and cake, was provided by Betty Blythe, a specialist in immersive, vintage afternoon teas.
And so it was with glum faces rather than glitzy smiles when our carriages arrived (OK Uber!) I have been to a few 1920’s themed parties, soirées, bars and events (I somehow always manage to seek them out as it’s my most favourite era!) and I can honestly say I have never experienced anything as immersive, impeccable, realistic and perfectly executed as the Prohibition Party. For what you get treated to on the night, the ticket prices are well worth it. The next event is on September 17th and for a little bit extra, I would totally recommend you try one of the classes beforehand – if you’re going to go as far as dressing up in Roaring Twenties garb you might as well maximise the experience, I assure you, you won’t regret it!