Do you copy?? The 80’s arrived back in town for an exclusive Secret Cinema experience in London. There have been a few productions in the past of much-beloved films. Most recently Secret Cinema has adapted to TV, with the Netflix hit Stranger Things. Based on the third season on 4th July, a school reunion was taking place. With a visit to the funfair and Starcourt Mall, you were in Hawkins for the evening.
Having recently gotten into the series last summer, it has quickly become one of my favourites. I’ve fallen in love with the characters and the aesthetic, as I’m a huge fan of the ’80s. We decided to book the Secret Cinema experience and found our best 80’s look to wear. We got to choose from a range of styles when we signed up. I chose to dress as a Punk Rocker (I basically own this style of clothing already!) and wore my Bruce Springsteen Born in The USA top. This was the theme for the evening of course. I put on my fishnet tights, a leather jacket and skater skirt and was set to go. Oh and I bought hair crimpers – can this be a thing again, please?!
Choosing an early timeslot helped us make the most of the evening. There was so much to see! The arrival time was 17:45 and we got given the secret location in our email. You also received a login to a portal, which, was set up as a student database with emails that included clues and tips. It also had a fun yearbook page where you could upload your own photo too. Here is where you got given your character name for the evening as well. Mine was Margarate Joyce and I was part of the drama club.
In the queue for the cinema, you are instantly transported to the Starcourt Mall. Here they had vintage cars out front and a wondering Billy. They checked our ID and bags and as we entered. There were lockers where we had to put our phones away for the night too.
It was really nice not having a phone on you for the evening. We really had been transported to the ’80s. Having no phones on us showed how much fun we were having without them.
As you entered, you found your representative, ours was Punk Rockers. You could choose from the movers and groovers to hip-hoppers, and they told us a story that we had to follow. You didn’t have to stick to just one storyline though. We ended up following a couple of different ones. After talking to our representative, we got told to find the Fortune Teller at the Funfair (Magenta Nevada). She was to give us the next clue, which, included a famous character from the series Will Byers. We also had to listen out for Born in The USA, which was amazing.
The music choices they were playing throughout the night were so nostalgic. Don’t Stop Believing, Footloose, Dancing in The Dark was some of the 80’s hits I heard. Everyone got in the mood and even the staff were singing along whilst they were serving us ice cream in Ahoy. Yes, that’s right! If you know the show, this place where Steve Harrington and Robyn work at the Mall. It was amazing and the ice cream itself tasted delicious. I had a Butterscotch flavoured one whilst singing along to Journey.
Steve was also working here throughout the night. At one point they both took us into the back storage room and acted out their famous scene. Robyn even “threw up” on my friend Sophie. They were so in character it was brilliant chatting to them! This was one of the secret rooms during the experience and we soon learnt that there was a few of these set up.
They had a bar set up inside too, which was a lot of fun. We danced to Kids in America as part of the storyline before our encounter with Billy. The drinks weren’t badly priced either so, it was nice to chill in there for a while. The first thing I remember as we walked through the funfair was seeing Mike and Lucas sitting on the bench. I instantly felt like I was in the series as I saw Joyce run and hug Will as he joined them. We decided to say hello and I’m so glad we did. They asked us if we were having a great Fourth of July and enjoying the celebrations. The characters mannerisms were out of this world. They really made the experience.
We started to wonder if all the characters made an appearance and they absolutely did. From Max to Dustin, Nancy and Jonathan. Even Hopper was there too, oh and not forgetting Eleven. She appeared as we were working out one of the clues using the retro phone booth and she moved a Coke can with her powers. I was in such awe as she was wondering around. Throughout the evening, the characters changed into their parts later in the series. We noticed Steve had a black eye and Eleven had her long hair. Hopper even changed into his date nightshirt. The attention to detail really made this whole thing theatrical.
Let’s not forget the infamous Demogorgan’s of the series. They were there too and very scary indeed. I had an inkling they would be but I wasn’t sure how they’d pull it off. You may have heard of Erika who is Lucas’s sister in the series. She took us through the back of the Coach shop in the Mall and we had to climb through one of the vents. In here we had Alexi and another Russian guy locked in a room. A Demogorgan was trying to get us! They also ran through the Mall with flickering lights nearer the end of the night.
There was so much to see that we even missed Hopper’s house and Billy’s party. I think these had harder clues and were part of the VIP package which, I would definitely consider this if it came around again. They also had the arcade set up with Pacman and other vintage games. It was really cool to get to play them again!
Some of the other food and drink available were Hot Dogs, Mac and Cheese and the classic Coke Float which I tried. There was a variety of food stalls set up around the funfair and they were all set in Dollars. Everything was in such fine detail.
Near the end of the night, we had to wait for Billy to appear in the Mall. He took us into the bar and proceeded to take us into the Upside Down. This bit had me on edge and was the most intense part of the night but, it was amazing. There are alternative endings so I’d be curious to see what others there were too.
STRANGER THINGS PERFORMANCE
In the Upside Down, we all filed into this 360 theatre experience. The show was 30 minutes long and my jaw was dropped to the ground for most of it. I think this live performance of Stranger Things should be in the West End, it was incredible. They had doubles of the actors running around the top so everyone could see what was happening. The effects from Elle were stunning and it was really emotional to watch them re-enact the series. Everyone also got involved here shouting for Will and helping Elle. We really were in the Upside Down. Oh, there were a few surprise Demogorgan’s in here too for good measure!
The Stranger Things Secret Cinema experience was one of the best evenings I’ve ever had. It will stay with me forever as I look back through my reporters’ notebook scribbled with notes from the evening. Finding out clues and using old-style 80’s computers, which I remember using back in the ’90s. Talking to some of my favourite characters and dancing to classic 80’s hits. It really was such a fun event and I do hope it comes back to London one day soon.