Ever since Leo DiCaprio stood in a slick tuxedo, raising a martini glass to green fireworks in Baz Lurhman’s iconic Gatsby adaptation, Gatsby theme parties have been trending. It was never really addressed that Leonardo DiCaprio (adorable as he was in Titanic) was kind of too old to play naïveidealist Jay Gatsby. Nor was it addressed that Tobey Maguire is kind of a bad actor. No, the only important thing was the rebirth of the Gatsby party. Onefull of fringe, binge drinking and throwing silk shirts down a spiral staircase. Note: if you don’t remember the silk shirt scenes, it’s worth re-watching Baz’s 2013 flick before attending this Gatsby venture—the shirts will be relevant.
So, if you’re stuck for where to take your next date in London, the off-west end immersive Great Gatsby Party is the next step in the flapper theme party tradition. Some call it a theme party. Others call it a west end show. It’s neither and both. While you will watch impressive actors quoting your favourite Gatsby lines (i.e. “you can’t repeat the past”), you will also dance, drink, and have the opportunity to chat up the infamous Jay Gatsby himself. So, don’t waste all your dolla dolla bills on overpriced west end tix. Here are 5 reasons to take your date to the Interactive Great Gatsby Party instead:
It’s Decently Priced and “Off the Grid”
If you’re not about to spend £68 watching bird puppets careen to “The Circle of Life” or overweight middle-aged men in psychedelic bell bottoms disco to “Dancing Queen,” good ol’ Gatsby offers a much cheaper alternative. Plus, opting for the Gatsby party will show your date that you have your finger on the pulse of the underground hip happenings. By “hip” and “underground”, we mean on a side street in Southwark, rather than the actual theatre district.
As you search for “Pilgrimage street” (which you’ve never heard of), a hat-wearing doorman sticks his head out, asking if you’re looking for “Gatsby’s drugstore.” At first, you mishear him and think he’s asking you to buy drugs. Instead, he stamps your hand and nods you into a waiting room overseen by Dr T J Eckleberg (a creepy optometrist who might be God). You’ll be so grateful you’re not caught in the middle of a one-sided drug deal, you’ll be ready for a great night.
Like all Good Gatsby Parties, You Get to Dress Up
Girls, time to take out your feathered headbands, fringe dresses and fake pearls. We know you have them, because literally every other theme party this year has been a 1920s / Gatsby party. If you don’t have them, then Amazon Prime has your back. Guys. Suspenders, golf hats and tuxedos (if you dare try to recreate Leo’s iconic look). If you’re thinking the dress up element is more for the girls, or, as a man, you don’t need to try as hard, you are wrong! Those who make minimal dress up efforts will be roasted by the cast in a public fashion.
Example: While setting up tea for his love, Gatsby might say something like “I want it to look nice, so can the properly attired people block the denim corner over here?” We all look over to “denim corner” where two dudes sheepishly look down at their jeans and one folds his arms in a jean jacket. Take the loss, bros. You’re not too cool for this! If you do put in the effort, Gatsby will shake your hand and you will be star struck(although, unfortunately, this Gatsby is less hot than Leo DiCaprio…) Dress-up dates are perfect because they will show your potential partner you have a “fun/goofy” side, whilst also providing a solid topic of conversation. Most importantly, they’ll make sure you have a great insta at the end of the night (which is obviously only post-able if your relationship is Insta-official!
The Booze (‘nuff said)
Of course, all Gatsby parties (like all dates) are improved by copious amounts of booze. Arrive early to enjoy the pre-show bars, stocked with topical alcohols. When we say topical, we mean it. Be prepared to drink gin or champagne. (If you’re desperate for rum, you’ll have to wait for the Treasure Island themed party). Also, make it a double, since the bar won’t open again until intermission.
“What?!” You say — “The bar isn’t open the whole time?” No. This is an important piece of information. If you attempt to order a round of G&Ts while Myrtle Wilson is shimmying to the Charleston, you’ll be brutally rebuffed. While this isn’t ideal, it gives you a real taste for what it was like back in the days of prohibition. In other words, they really committed to the Gatsby theme. The bars are also open post-show. So, when you and your date are high key-depressed by the double-murder (spoiler alert) at the end of Gatsby, you can raise a glass of champagne and turn the night around.
The group dancing portion of the night is fabulous. If only for the collective reminiscence of doing the cotton-eyed-joe at school dances (in rooms not unlike this one). You’ll learn the Charleston, which is a key transferable skill and can totally be added to your CV afterwards. If that’s not your vibe, they’ll also dim the lights for some more intimate slow-dancing.
Then, just when you feel like the slow dancing is getting old (or you’ve run out of pre-planned conversation topics), Gatsby and pals guide you into a game of never have I ever that also involves you switching partners. There’s nothing like the clammy hands of a guy in suspenders to make you jump back into the arms of your own date as quickly as possible. The tall woman playing pro golfer, Jordan Baker, will wink at you with a face that says, “you’re welcome, bro.”
Love is in the Air
If the glamour of booze and flappers has made you forget the actual plot of The Great Gatsby, then you’re not alone. Allow us to remind you — it’s a love story. The actors playing Daisy and Gatsby have real chemistry which is regularly evidenced by their intense make-out sessions. If you’re part of the lucky group that gets to follow Daisy and Gatsby upstairs, then you’ll also witness them make out on a bed and partially undress. As you and four or five others stand in a 20 square foot room watching Gatsby fiddle with an old-timey brassiere, you’ll find yourself wondering, “How far are they going to take this?!” Well, that’s for you to find out! What we can tell you is that love is definitely in the air.
All these elements are rounded out by some great performances and tolerable American accents. Special shout out goes to George Wilson who (because his role is minimal in the book) ends up gossiping a lot with the guests. Also, Gatsby narrator, Nick Carraway is inexplicably played by a 60-year-old man. This makes the subplot about him turning 30 pure comedy. So, if you’re looking for a spot to take your next date, this one is full of laughs, dancing, champagne and sexual tension. The only thing it’s missing is Leo DiCaprio.
By Isabelle Bousquette