secret cinema at alexandra palace

For my birthday awhile back, my lovely studio mates told me they’d set up Stuart and me for a mystery evening for yesterday’s date. As the date grew nearer, they revealed they’d bought us all tickets to Secret Cinema, and as clues came out, we discovered we needed to dress as Bedouins, and since we’d be in the red tribe, to plan our headdresses accordingly. Now I’d always been curious to visit Alexandra Palace:

And I’ve always wanted to see a certain film ever since I obsessed over it as a 12-year-old, but I hadn’t wanted to see it on anything but large screen, so it had been over 20 years of waiting. No one actually knew what the film was going to be, but the clues had us guessing… and we were right, that night’s showing was Lawrence of Arabia! It was so much fun piecing back together all the scenes I remembered. And we even had our own Lawrence ride out on a camel at the start.

But the evening wasn’t just a screening, the organisers must have worked their tails off to fill the palace with loads of props, sets and actors. It looked amazing! Here’s Lauren and Gary, practicing their Arabic penmanship.

The place was rife with colonial bureaucracy.

Several in our tribe interviewed and were photographed for their admission into the army.

Desert communication was limited.

And it was too dark to get many good photos of the souk, but here are two members of the Fleece Station with woolly friends and skeins of yarn.

More technology and bottles of mystery insects, maggots and crickets in one of the souk’s curiosity stalls.

We had great fun watching thousands of people arriving in their costumes. Here’s our tribe with our studio members and Lauren’s sister, mum and stepdad.

We were supposed to bring something to barter with (Lauren’s sister brought an astonishing Amazonian birdhouse and Lauren brought some bling from a Dolly Parton party) but Stuart and I ended up keeping our Cadbury Heroes and dispensing them to our tribe during the screening.

What a fabulous evening, thanks so much, guys! xx

Edit: Even better photos here by Jamie Smart’s friend Philip G.W. Smith. And army recruitment photos here!

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