If you wanted to go out in London for Hallowe'en this year, you had quite a few choices. Having been impressed by their previous event The Great Exhibition, we plumped for White Mischief's vintage/steampunk-themed The Haunted Ballroom at the Scala.
Getting into the venue was interesting, queuing as we did behind a 6'6'' chap in a blonde wig and a baby blue PVC nurse's outfit. Once we got inside, it was clear that many people had made an effort far beyond facepaint and masks. Kudos to the guys who turned up in Chilean miners outfits, the man with a pimped out pumpkin helmet and the lady with the medusa hairdo.
The White Mischief art directors have worked with immersive theatre company Punchdrunk and that influence told across the various floors. On the top level, various interactive experiences were hidden away in booths. Joining the haphazard queues for the booths marked "Sexy", "Playful" and "Dark", we squeezed into "Playful" where we found Rachel Parry and her mimed musical masturbation. In another booth, guests could bare their souls then swap them for their hearts' desire. On another floor, we explored Stromboli's Cave - a labyrinth with a twist - and bopped to monochrome DJ Markabre Charade while checking out the life modelling art class in the side room.
The main stage, compered by Dorian Black, was awash with acts both strange and wonderful. The heavily pregnant Nina Conti deconstructed ventriloquism hilariously, acrobat Empress Stah twisted and turned inside a hoop dangling from a chandelier, David McAlmont came on for a brief set, the towel-wearing ursine gay porn poet Rex de Nile gave us the inside track on saunas and the excellent Irish duo Abandoman rocked the audience with their fluent and funny improvised rap.
Tickets for this event sold out in advance and we can see why. The organisers obviously spent much time and effort putting it all together and we eagerly look forward to their planned New Year's Eve event.
All images (c) Ben Hopper