The not-so-secret rise of the Secret Event: Do you know where you're going to?

Not if you're attending a Secret Cinema, Secret Restaurant or Secret Hotel event. Phil Boucher finds out more about covert carousing

Would you pay £100 for a meal without knowing where you're going to eat or what you might actually be spearing with your cutlery? Or how about handing over £30 for a London hotel on the frankly sketchy information that you will sleep in "a dormitory" that holds "between two and six people"?

Well, it seems that some people would. What's more, business is booming.

Wednesday night saw the opening of the Secret Restaurant and the Secret Hotel, the latest offerings from the team behind the Secret Cinema, which has drawn more than 150,000 visitors to a series of imaginative film-themed events since 2003, creating a global online community of more than 2.8 million in the process.

Once again, the production is based around the screening of a film – the selection is, naturally, a closely guarded secret – and the extra elements are designed to make it yet more immersive and atmospheric.

"We don't mimic the film: we interpret it," says Fabien Riggall, the creative director and founder of Secret Cinema.

"It is trying to make a real world out of the theatrical world, in a sense."

Tickets for the event went on sale a month ago and also provide access to a Secret Gallery showcasing artwork that reflects the era and feel of the film. Once you have paid, you receive a special identity that you're asked to remain in throughout the event, plus a series of dress instructions that provide clues to the nature of the film, without actually making it any clearer. And that, well, is about it.

"All we ask them to wear is 1940s suits," Riggall adds. "All the women have become male characters, too, and they have to bring long johns and a white vest. They come with this information, so they kind of get a sense of the film and they step into another world, as it were."

While parting with good money to take part in this concept may strike many as utter madness, the facts tell a different tale. Secret Cinema's production based around Ridley Scott's Prometheus drew 25,000 moviegoers to a London warehouse converted into a futuristic spaceship, making it the highest-grossing arena for the Alien "prequel" in the UK.

Ticket sales for this most recent event – which runs until 2 December, so Trending can't give you any spoilers about what occurs where – suggest it's going to be just as popular. The question is, just what is the attraction? "People are looking for an adventure and to discover a cultural experience that they don't already know everything about," Riggall adds.

"It is a counteraction to the growing culture of hyper-information, where everything is available everywhere, so everyone knows what the great shows, or clubs, or bars are.

"What we are doing is just something a little different that makes people think. It is a bit more than a night out. People want to be shaken a bit – but in a good way. The idea of discovery opens their eyes to experiences they might not otherwise enjoy."

As James Dyson has recently found out: secrecy sells.

secretcinema.org

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