It’s hard to believe that Popcorn, one of Heaven’s – and London’s – most successful gay/mixed club nights celebrates their 14th Birthday next week. To celebrate, we asked Popcorn’s head honcho Chris Selby-Rickards to tell us his most memorable moments…
Seven hundred and twenty-eight Monday nights at Heaven is an awful lot to remember and if I was to list every party that stuck out in my mind we’d be here all night! My two favourite times of year are Halloween and Christmas so I have chosen just 2, out of 728, to talk about!
Several years ago we did a Halloween party called The Exorcist. We put together a very simple but very effective stage presentation, which featured a female dancer playing the role of Regan, the possessed young girl from the film who is exorcised of the Devil.
The scene opened in Regan’s bedroom (which was built with two white walls either side of a large angled bed and decorated to resemble a young girls bedroom with furniture, pictures etc).
She was strapped down under ‘the Devil’s control’; violently trying to escape and shouting and screaming abuse and profanities at the audience.
What the audience couldn’t see was that her wrists were strapped to overhead hoists, hidden by black curtaining behind the bed.
The story went that the priest comes in and attempts to exorcise the girl who is then lifted, by the power of the devil, so that she is floating above the stage still struggling and cursing and then proceeds to projectile vomit over the stage and front of the audience! (Helped by some ‘goo’ canons on the rig!)
As this happened the white bedroom walls began to ‘bleed’ and the bass speakers created a low rumble that vibrated across the main floor.
Wind machines started blowing everything around on stage (paper etc) and plenty of smoke helped to set the scene! The voices of Regan, the priest and weeping mother in the corner were pre-recorded and played over the sound system so as not to be drowned out!
The exorcism concluded and she was lowered back– free of the demons – and laid crumpled on the bed but as the priest goes to leave she ripped herself from her shackles and jumped from the bed – ‘repossessed’ – and as the stage is plunged into darkness, the last thing you saw was her jumping on his back with a large, previously concealed, knife in her hand!
There was the most almighty scream and when the lights came up she was stood in front of the bed facing the audience covered in blood with a severed head in one hand and the knife in the other!
It went off without a hitch and had the crowd going nuts. Perfect piece of theatre! It was so simple but so effective. I loved it. It was a brilliant show.
Another favourite was two years ago when Steven Sharp and myself decided to re-launch Royal House, a kaleidoscope house night that we had created over a decade ago that used to run once a month on a Saturday night at Heaven. It was the Bank holiday Monday between Christmas and New Year 2008 and was one of Heaven’s 30th birthday parties. I don’t think I have ever seen that many people waiting to get into Heaven before, it was that crazy.
We had a load of old Heaven faces and friends back that night, most notably Polly Fey who was the face of the Departure Lounge alongside John Warrington for the best part of ten years. She was our VIP hostess that night and was as beautiful, glamorous and eccentric as always!
It was such a special and incredibly moving night. We chose a Winter Wonderland theme and decked the venue out in white with real, flocked, trees and branches all down the main floor, reception and DP and brought in nearly a ton of artificial snow, covering the entire ground floor: there must have been fifty Christmas trees round the venue and everything shone and sparkled.
In the DP we created Polly’s boudoir with a giant four poster bed holding court on the raised area and two large ‘trees’ in the centre of the room with white material branches stretching out in all different directions with large snow flakes and small lights hanging from them. We then added several UV canons and the whole room glowed. It was so beautiful.
It was wonderful having the Sharp Boys back at Heaven. I love Steven and George, they are probably the most versatile DJ duo out there and they always bring such magic, fun and enthusiasm to everything they do.
The night was such a success that we have continued holding Royal House parties on notable dates throughout the year ever since and the Sharp Boys are now resident guests on the main floor on the first Monday of every month.
Don’t miss Popcorn’s 14th Birthday fortnight, starting on Monday 22nd August at Heaven (The Arches, off Villiers St, Charing Cross, WC2N 6NG).