All together now... lights down, bubbles on!

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A Slice of Britain: Hot Tub Cinema sees scores of young film fans flocking to watch movies in (very) close company with scantily clad strangers, on a rooftop near you

East London

I can rave in a laundrette, drink a pint in a multi-storey car park, and watch music videos in disused petrol stations, if I so wish, but not until now has the capital's penchant for pop-ups driven me to share a hot tub with total strangers.

For the past month, this is exactly where scores of London's less self-conscious, mostly 20- to 30-year-olds, all in search of something "unique" and "imaginative", have been flocking. Hot Tub Cinema, currently perched on the roof of east London's Netil House, boasts 12 hot tubs, a projector and a screen.

The idea is simple. You fork out a minimum of £22, strip off to your undies, or something slightly more waterproof, share a hot bath with a maximum of seven other scantily clad people, and then take in a film, in 40-degree heat, from a rooftop, with only bubbles to distract you from your neighbour's leg as it grazes yours. Scepticism is understandably high; I was asked if I had had a precautionary tetanus shot when I told friends I was to take the plunge.

But its popularity is harder to ridicule. Sold out at every event, numbers have doubled since the first showing, with 85 people taking to the tubs this weekend to watch Back to the Future. The owner has had to increase capacity by 50 per cent, and Future Shorts, the company behind Secret Cinema, is hosting its short-film festival in the tubs on Tuesday.

For Asher Charman, the 27-year-old founder of Hot Tub Cinema, it's a no-brainer. "They've been going like hot cakes since day one," he says, as he proudly shows me the wooden tub he and his dad built. "It's a genuinely unique combination of experiences. The film gives it all focus – without it, you just have a hot tub on a roof."

That aside, there is no mistaking the main attraction. As the titles begin to roll and people strip off in trepidation, squeals come from far and wide. In typically British manner, even the hot tubs are divided by price. There are three "cosy" tubs – nicknamed "the ghetto" by punters – where up to eight cram in side by side. There are four "spacious", designed for no more than six apiece, and the rest are for group hire of up to eight people, at £200 a pop.

Sharon McGoldrick, 33, a graphic designer from south London, is sharing a "cosy" with a friend. All laughs and giggles, she seems to be on the lookout. "A hot guy in my office mentioned something about hot tubs in London. I Googled it and this is what I found," she tells me. "I still don't know if he's coming."

Curled up in my own "spacious", I meet my five new tub mates. Three friends, in their late twenties, from all across London, and a model and an engineer, on their first date. As the wine flows, so do the jokes. "You're getting your clothes off early, aren't you, for a first date?" teases Paul Metcalfe, 27, a lawyer living in Moorgate. "I thought there'd be lots of people around, if the date was rubbish," laughs 25-year-old Andy Hadland.

But it appears there was no fear of that. While I am left trying to close my "dry box", thus ensuring the waterproofing of my possessions, the bubbles start, and any inhibitions are promptly forgotten. My dating couple start to kiss, wine glasses are swapped for shared bottles, and London's skyline looks increasingly majestic.

If there was ever any sense of tub hierarchy, by the time Michael J Fox sings "Go Johnny Go", it is nowhere to be seen. As bikini-clad women dance in the middle of their tubs, there are impromptu shouts of "hot tub relay", where punters jump from tub to tub, and water fights follow.

The dippers themselves are hard to categorise. While Netil House is a beacon of east-London warehouse-style cool, Hot Tub Cinema seems to attract a slightly more affluent mix of advertisers, financiers, lawyers and creatives. Some are from Essex and Reading, others have crossed the Thames in a bid to experience a perfect hot-tub movie moment, while the call of warm water and rooftop space has even attracted a number of Aussies, perhaps pining for home.

A local copywriter, Danni Emery, 30, from Clapton, east London, is wearing a swimming cap. Almost missing out on the event, because she thought it was a "little pricey", she describes it as "absolutely wicked". Her only complaint: the film wasn't water-related. She recommends Jaws, Splash, or Hot Tub Time Machine.

As for Charman, he seems thrilled. Without a hint of irony, he turns to me and says: "That's all I wanted really – for everyone to feel like we're all in this together."

Top hot-tub movie moments

1. Tequila Sunrise

It's 80s glamour all the way as Michelle Pfeiffer and Mel Gibson mark one of the most memorable movie hot tub love scenes to date.

2. Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Ferris takes to eating Oreo cookies in the tub with his girlfriend Sloane.

3. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Austin is soaking with spy Alotta Fagina, when he breaks wind.

4. Charlie Wilson's War

Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, (Tom Hanks), entertains women in a glitzy black and gold hot tub.

5. Lion King III

The third Lion King film proves hot tubs are not just for humans as Timon and Pumba, the animated meerkat and warthog, take a dip.

Additional reporting by Rachel Roberts

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Caral Barat of The Libertines performs on stage at British Summer Time Festival at Hyde Park

music
Arts and Entertainment
Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea perform on stage at the Billboard Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Zina Saro-Wiwa

art
Arts and Entertainment
All-new couples 'Come Dine With Me'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne
musicReview: BST Hyde Park, London
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart star in Almost Royal burning bright productions
tvTV comedy following British ‘aristos’ is accused of mocking the trusting nature of Americans
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
    Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

    Hollywood targets Asian audiences

    The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial