We both get texts at 4.15pm on the day of our booking, that start ‘Greetings from the Chambers of Flavour! From this point on you must not disclose any details of location or concept…’
And with that we’re off, only I can’t tell you where we’re off to, or what’s at the other end.
This is the second version of Chambers of Flavour, the immersive theatre-dinner events from Gingerline. And it’s secretive, in a way that Secret Cinema and London’s hundred speakeasies only dream of being. A rifle through social media only turns up fragments that raise more questions than they answer: photos of people pointing at their socks and grinning madly, photos of people with their arms slung around each other holding up tin mugs in front of steampunkish walls of pipes and metal.
The things we know ahead of the evening as they’re public knowledge: this is the Chambers of Flavour v2.0. Tickets are released in stages, months ahead – the next release on 31st January for May. The timer on their website ticks away the days, minutes and seconds in a way that’d be hyperbolic if they didn’t always sell out fast, if you didn’t have to know to the second when the next release is coming to be in with a chance of booking. It takes place near the Overground line between Highbury and Whitechapel. The dress code is all black clothes, with brightly coloured socks. Whatever’s coming up will involve dinner. And that’s it. The sum total of our knowledge about this evening.
It’s good timing, though. It’s been one of those days. One of those early January, almost-inauguration days. Your average escapism isn’t going to cut it, and I’ve already watched Die Hard three times over Christmas so I guess I could stand to mix things up a bit.
And the Chambers of Flavour don’t deal in average levels of escapism. We meet at a nearby bar, make wild stabs in the dark about what it’ll be like, most of them wrong, and make our way to the Chambers. And for the next two and a half hours we’re not masters of our own destinies, not unless you count choosing beer over cocktails, or Jethro’s ‘No Cucumber’ wristband. Not in charge of our own fates, but weirdly ok with it.
It’s easier to be ok with it because though we rarely have any idea what’s coming next in the evening, it’s clear the Chambers of Flavour always know exactly, so you’re in strange but safe hands. We get spun through the Chambers of Flavour – experience bubbles of surreality I can’t reveal, eat things that must remain nameless, and do things you usually just read about in science fiction – and dropped out the other side, buoyed by the weirdness and the whirlwind speed of it.
It’s not till the next day we even talk about it and figure out what we liked, what we saw coming, what took us by surprise, who we’d tell to go. (The answers respectively: almost all of it, almost none of it, almost everything, almost everybody.) That evening we’re just bounced out into the night, sleepy, full and dazzled by the bizarre multi-dimensional things that can happen when you let somebody else be in charge of your night.
The next Chambers of Flavour 2.0 takes place in May and tickets go on sale at 12pm on 31st January 2017. Tickets are from £55 to £75. For more details and to book visit www.chambersofflavour.co.uk or Gingerline.
Photo credit: Emma Nathan.