Here we all are at the eagerly-anticipated Hot Tub Cinema, in a disused underground station in Shoreditch, to see Magic Mike.
So what was it like, you may ask? Well, primarily, it was loud. I don't know what happened in the film apart from that Channing Tatum stripped (man, can that guy dance). The premise of Hot Tub Cinema is that, for £36, you can watch a film from the comfort of an inflatable hot tub in an urban setting, with drinks being brought to you. All fine and well, but there are some things they need to consider here:
1) When you let people drink in a hot tub, there is no way you are keeping them quiet... so how is anyone going to hear the film?
2) Popcorn is impossible to eat with wet hands.
3) Half a tin of cider for £4 is not reasonable, not even by London standards.
Once you make your peace with the fact that you're not going to hear anything at all, you can just soak up the atmosphere. In the hot tub next to us was an incredibly camp French guy, and after the film, there was a disco at the end. The French guy dove headfirst into everyone else's hot tub, singing along to all the songs, and at one point slapped some poor girl's backside. We were all agog at this interesting behaviour but it did make for some great social anthropology. Ah, Shoreditch, you are an anomaly.
At the end, the male staff (who were dressed in onesies) stripped - gotta make the cinema experience immersive, after all. None of us were so keen to see that we rushed to the front, but goodness, being a waiter there and having to weave between hot tubs full of drunk girls opens you up to all sorts of hassle. Not one of them was dry by the end.
All in all, it was quite the hedonistic atmosphere, and certainly entertaining for an evening out after work in London. Practical considerations: it ran from 6.30-10.30pm, so you did get you money's worth in terms of time, but the staff were a real mixed bag. The girl at the door was helpful when it turned out their booking system hadn't worked properly and they might need to split us up - I wasn't keen because I'd booked it for James' birthday and invited his friends, so it would have been a bit pathetic if we'd been in separate tubs. They put us in the "safety" tub at last (the one they keep in case one breaks) but it was touch and go and required a fair bit of ground-standing. The cloakroom is free, and you buy waterproof token to exhange for drinks (they are fully refundable, but one token cost £2 so it did seem like a way to make the drinks seem cheaper... for example, prosecco = 3 token, but really £6).
We also got in trouble for turning on the bubbles prematurely, since apparently it cools the hot tub down too much. I'm sorry, but everyone in our tub was Scottish, it was 26 degrees outside and the water in the tub was 39 degrees - we really didn't mind being a bit colder, in fact we would have welcomed it.
I don't envy their task - trying to control about one hundred drunk people in a room full of hazards (water, electricity, stairs, concrete) must be fairly stressful, but they used to manage it in Glasgow once a week (see Octopussy, the Arches - I've never actually been but it sounded amazing).
Here a few pictures from the surrounding area: