This party was rather a long time in the planning. The date was set at least 18 months before the event. Kim’s birthday is late April, Janie’s is late June, so the last Saturday in May, which is also a bank holiday weekend, seemed ideal.
60’s as the theme, given the “big zero” milestone year both of them were to be reaching. It did help just a bit, of course, that Kim is in the themed party planning business. It also helped that several vivid imaginations went to work on the ideas.
On arrival, everyone was given a little bottle and a pewter cup (see photo above). People only heard 1960s style sitar music – the following playlist was playing on a loop: 60’s Warm Up Ravi Shankar To Beatles Playlist Final.
People were kept in a relatively small reception area, part courtyard, part entranceway to the Theme Traders site.
Actors dressed as Hari Krishnas welcomed new arrivals and mingled with the guests.
Then the Hari Krishnas led all the guests through the warehouse, past all the nooks and crannies that would later be party breakout rooms. At that stage the 60’s Warm Up Ravi Shankar To Beatles Playlist Final was playing throughout the warehouse.
In the garden at the back of the site, the guests were crowded into an enclosed area, not realising that the walls were paper and that behind the walls was a band ready to play and a barbecue ready to grill. In that area one of the actors was dressed as a guru. Janie had briefed him on the sorts of things to say, which ended up being a mixture of Timothy Leary, Beatles lyrics, general “peace and love” messages, getting people to chant back his incantations and the like.
It’s hard to explain why this was very funny, but it was. Some people seemed to be really into it. Only a small handful of us knew what was really going on; we of course egged on the guests, although they didn’t need much egging. Everyone must have realised that it was all meant to be a bit of fun.
Then the guru started to get very excited and even more rambling in his incantations, the drums started to roll and the guru tore down a paper wall to reveal the band.
With everyone looking towards the band, I realised that someone needed to make a start on the wall to reveal the food, which I did and found rather cathartic after all those months and especially the last few days of preparation. Soon others were helping me and the whole process probably took 5-10 seconds.
The band, Never The Bride, were really excellent. They are friends of Kim’s, or is it fairer to say that Kim is one of their groupies? Both statements are true I think. We’d seen them perform before at a small party at Kim’s house, but I hadn’t realised from that scaled down performance they had the oomph and repertoire to create a “60’s rock fest” atmosphere – but they did just that.
They performed two sets during the evening. The first had the most impact, naturally, but the second was a good “watershed” period for the party…
…a different atmosphere in the dark and a good foil for presenting the cake, butlers removing their trousers and other such merriment.
Between live sets, there was a DJ. We had supplied him with a strong playlist of sixties dance music…
…but he played little from that and showed reluctance when several guests (including Janie) made specific requests, unfortunately. Later in the evening, I switched the sounds in the Mods breakout area (see below) to the above playlist so that some of us could have more appropriate bop.
Breakout Rooms and Music
The breakout rooms were fabulous. I curated different music for different zones, the playlists for which (but not the music) are all downloadable here:
Between the surf lounge area and the hippy psychedelic area was a small breakout room with everything upside down, “Alice In Wonderland”-like. When we went over to set up the sound the day before, Kim’s team were worried because there was so much sound bleed between those two other zones in that area. I listened for a while and realised that the very different types of music, one type coming from one side, the other type coming from the other side, created a very strange soundscape and decided that this was exactly what music in the upside down room should sound like! It became a real feature.
The actors changed from Hari Krishnas to characters from the Sixties and mingled around the party and the breakout areas. By way of example, here is a picture of “Andy Warhol” in the Hippy Zone:
One of the breakout rooms was a mini cinema, which showed an amazing short movie that Kim and Janie had made a few weeks before the party. It depicts the two of them talking about the heady days of the sixties and mingling with many big names from that era. It is really very funny. If you haven’t seen it and want to have a look at the movie, for the time being drop me an e-mail or a comment and I’ll arrange for you to see it.
There are loads of photos. For now, if you go to my Flickr albums area, you can see all the mini albums that friends have sent to me and Janie, click here. More are coming through and we plan to sit down with Kim and make up a consolidated album over the next few weeks.
I’ll write more about the food and the photos and the music in the fullness of time, but it is (at the time of writing this piece) nearly two weeks since the party, so the public deserves to read something about it by now. Although those of us who were there will struggle to forget this party…
…although they say that if you remember the Sixties you weren’t doing it right…so in that sense, I suppose, this memorable evening was contra-Sixties. Or perhaps uber-Sixties.
Anyway, it was fab and groovy. Peace and love.