Secret Cinema Presents Back to the Future…Welcome to Hill Valley!

WARNING: LOTS AND LOTS OF SPOILERS (especially since the run is now over)

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These tickets initially went on sale while I was in Japan and I happened to check twitter at the right time so I was successful in getting two tickets for the third day of its run. Sister and I were excited – we both love the movie and love the idea of an immersive cinema experience. Frustratingly Secret Cinema wasn’t ready in time and the first week of shows were cancelled. We had the choice of getting a refund or rebooking and decided to rebook for the August Bank Holiday weekend. Even though it has become a whole load colder than expected last Sunday was sunny and dry and cool rather than cold. We took extra blankets with us, our disposable cameras (which were allowed) and made our way to Hill Valley, the nicest place to live.

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The location wasn’t all that secret – there is no way anyone can build a small town in London and keep it hidden. So instead of going to the meeting point, we parked in Westfield Stratford and joined the queue, which was about a mile long. I jest but only a little – it was long. Both of us thought that we would spend the whole evening here, just waiting to get inside. Boy, were we so wrong. Firstly it was incredibly fast moving so it took probably a whole 10 minutes to get inside, secondly it wasn’t as if nothing was happening in the queue. We met Biff and his friends in the queue, got yelled at to ‘keep on the sidewalk’ by a cop (I’m getting into this American lingo), and almost got run over by roller skaters and skate boarders wearing the height of 80s fashion (think lycra and florescent).

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Once we entered Hill Valley it was very much like slipping into another town (one full of people dressed in some of the loveliest clothes I have ever seen). The first thing we did was have some ice cream – for me cookies and cream with peanut brittle, for Sister salted caramel with hot fudge. Absolutely delicious. Really, delicious. I have never had peanut brittle before and it’s so good isn’t it? After this we decided to have out picture taken with one of the billboards from the movie. After all, we are in Hill Valley, one of the nicest places to live – we should definitely find somewhere to live.

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By the time our photo was taken we had finished our ice cream (the queue was long and we were hungry) and decided to get some food. One the way I decided to try my hand at some skipping. Like the roller skating we saw earlier, skipping is something I used to spend most of my life doing and now spend no time doing. Just jumping in the sunshine was so much fun even if I only managed to get to 9 before missing.

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As I mentioned our next stop was supposed to be food so we walked a little more into the town only to be met with our first bit of good luck. There, right in front of us was one of the only vegetarian food stalls in the whole place. And the queue was really minimal. Sister had the quorn hot dogs, with gherkins, chilli sauce, cheese, caramalised onions and mayonnaise. She assured me that it was delicious. I had their falafel wrap with humous and the most refreshing tzatziki ever. Minty fresh and yummy.

As we ate, we walked and used this opportunity to take everything in. I know that the town was going to be big but I didn’t ever thing it was going to be this massive. There were shops after shops, houses, people, cars (‘GET OFF MY ROAD,’ yells the cop, ‘NO JAYWALKING.’) and so much to do. The whole point of events like this is to interact with the actors and I made sure I did that at every opportunity. Sister and I were hugged by a lady who had been told by the mayor that she couldn’t sing. She was crying, we went to comfort her and she hugged us in gratitude. As she was much taller than me I found my head sinking into her freakishly soft breast. I danced with a man with my bag still on and it kept whacking him, much to our hilarity. I chatted to Biff and had a picture taken with him and was told to step into the Docs office by the Doc himself when I asked to have a picture with him.

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As we wondered around town, key scenes from the movie were being acted out. The two of us bumped into Marty just as he landed in 1955 and asked him if he was ok. We saw him and the Doc discuss time travel and the lightning strike in his barn. I saw Biff bully George and fight with Marty in the diner.

There was also a funfair in Hill Valley – one of the coolest things ever as it has been actual years since I last went on a ride. By the time we left the funfair and headed back into town, evening was falling and it was getting darker. The movie wasn’t scheduled to start for a while yet but people were already putting their blankets on the green claiming a spot for the movie. Sister and I decided to do the same. We managed to find a spot really close to the front and as there were only two of us, we more than happily could fit in (even if the family behind us really didn’t want to move their inflatable guitar. When I asked him if it as saving the place for someone he looked at me as if I was insane. I told him that if I had touched it without asking he probably wouldn’t have been thrilled. They moved it after that. The watched very closely to make sure that our blanket didn’t touch theirs). We left the blankets there and continued to explore.

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We hadn’t gotten very far when actors from the 80s piled onto the stage and decided to get us all on our feet and teach us how to dance like Tina Turner, Michael Jackson and NAME OF PERSON. I will be bringing these moves to the dance floor. There was then an epic game of tug of war, which we were so close to winning, but the other team cheated to it’s a moral and actual victory for us.

Just before the movie started there was a town parade and I had to join. By this time night had well and truly fallen and we were huddled in our blankets. Sister decided to stay in the (relative) warmth as I pranced (actual prancing) back to the entrance of Hill Valley and joined the parade. This has to be one of my highlights of the whole shindig. Somehow I ended up as part of Lou’s Café posse and with chanting and shouting all of us made our way around the green parading our support for our business (I was supposed to be with the bank but that really didn’t happen).

Once back with sister a band came on stage, played some classic 1950 hits and had us all on our feet dancing in the night. Once we had all settled back in our blankets, the movie started. Now I expected it to just be the movie and nothing else. Oh no. As scenes were being played on screen, the actors were acting them in real life. It was brilliant and exciting and incredibly immersive. Once the movie finished the bad were back on the stage rocking out the joint until close to midnight, after which we finally left.

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Events like this make me love that I live in London. This city is amazing and this event was as brilliant. Tickets are expensive, and there were issues in the beginning with this one but it was so worth it. You go in wanting to enjoy yourself and you will because there is so much to do which will just make you smile and dance. I am already looking forward to the next event they put on – pretty sure I’ll be going to that one too.

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