We strutted (and slightly stumbled) down the street in our high heels. Emerging from the Travelodge with jackets over our heads to protect our hair from the rain. A short walk through Covent Garden brings us to the corner of Endell street. Two burly men in suits and ear pieces stood outside to warmly greet us whilst simultaneously look us up and down suspiciously. From the outside The Hospital Club looks like a swanky art gallery, I had to double take before walking inside. Black glossy floors, unusual shaped furniture and shiny women stood behind shiny desks. The receptionist flashed her white teeth as she ticked our names of the list and directed us towards floors two and four.
“Two AND four?” I repeated. She confirmed, as if it was normal to have an event across multiple floors. I don’t know, is it?! As you may already be able to tell, I don’t often attend these swanky events, so I was surprised a few times as the evening went on. The first arrived as we turned the corner to find the lift. We came across a cloakroom that you didn’t have to pay for! I’m used to having to fork out £2.50 to hang my coat up, as my local nightclub enjoys taking advantage of the drunk and cold.
Taking off our coats we reveal how we have interpreted the dress code, or rather, the lack of dress code. We thought it was safer to go overdressed than underdressed so I’m in a culotte-style jumpsuit and my housemate Holly is in a off the shoulder bodycon dress; we are both sporting heels. No going back now.
We step inside the lift and breathe a sigh of relief. The scary part is over and my butterflies begin to settle. We play ibble obble black bobble with the lift buttons and decide to go to the second floor. As we ding up to the second floor the butterflies soon return. Getting to the room from the lift was a bit of a nervous blur, weaving through corridors, peeking through door frames until we hear the sounds of an actress being interviewed in the pre show build up.
I feel all eyes turn to Holly and I. A couple look up from their slumped state on a sofa, sporting grubby jeans and jumpers. Oh shit. We’re really overdressed. Other than the couple, whose eyes go back to the screen showing the pre-show red carpet action, there were only a couple of others milling around by the bar and a waiter stood idly by.
We nervously took a few steps into the room, made it past the first row of sofa, with the bar in our sight but bottled it and did a U-turn. We spun on our heels and bustled out the door in a silent panic. Having escaped from the awkward room, we looked at each other and I said, in a desperate tone, “Fourth must be better.” We walked back into the lift, crossed our fingers and flew up another two floors.
From the second the doors open, we heard people chatting, stepping out we spotted a busy bar at the end of a corridor decked out with patterned wallpaper and exotic wall hangings. No words were exchanged as we regained our mojo and used the corridor like a catwalk. Free drinks tokens in hand, we knew where we were going. As we waited for our wine to be poured, we scanned the room and doors leading off from it. The fourth floor was considerably busier and with people, to our delight, dressed similarly to us. Phew.
We found a room off from the bar where most of the guests have gathered. Almost pitch black, you had to feel your way across the room, dodging the tables that were dimly lit with flickering candles. We opted for seats up against a sidewall to get a view of who was who. Most of the guests were sat in groups, and were divided into three sections. The front few rows were the keen watchers, not a word spoken between them, eyes glued to the screen. Behind them sat the slightly more vocal groups, getting the drinks in, whooping and cheering for every person or play. At the back, sat the pairs and groups of quiet observers, chatting between them and watching the madness in front.
As we settled we were excited to see (once our eyes had adjusted to the darkness) a small menu on our table. Chips, burgers and salads to accompany the award show was exactly what we needed after a long day hopping on and off tubes and trekking around Westfields. Our food arrived as the show began, along with a welcomed second glass of wine.
I pulled out my phone and began to tweet my excitement, hashtagging as I go. However, I only manage to get to award number four, before I received a tap on the shoulder and an apologetic speech from the waiter explaining that we aren’t allowed to use phones at all as it’s distracting for others. I found this strange as we are in a room filled with press, bloggers and journalists, but politely obliged and wasn’t too disappointed as it meant I could thoroughly enjoy the show without being constantly on Twitter.
I won’t waffle on about the actual show as I assume if you are reading this, you already know who the big winners are. I will say though, that the performances in between awards did fall a little flat as the space didn’t do the shows justice. It was difficult to transpose a single song from a whole production with no context. I hope this is something that will change with time, as they could be shown off so much more.
The Oliviers were fast paced and interesting, unlike many other award shows which can feel like they drag on for an eternity. Catherine Tate did her best as a presenter, providing us with intentional and accidental laughs. As it was streamed live to us, but quickly edited and shown to the public much later in the evening, so we got to see all the little mishaps and extras that the public would miss out on.
Nearing the end of the show, we decided to mingle with some other guests. It was somewhat difficult to “network” in a pitch black room where everyone was seated and fixated on the screen, but we gave it a go. There were two girls were sat in front of us, who looked very merry to say the least. Despite receiving some irritated glances from the people around they seemed fun and were a similar age to us. We shuffled our chairs over to their table, which by this point was littered with wine glasses and bottles and introduced ourselves. Friends achieved!
As the evening drew to an end, and Catherine Tate said her goodbyes, me and Holly made a dash to the bathroom. On our return we were surprised to see the room had emptied within literal minutes. All that was left was an array of lipstick stained glasses and abandoned business cards. I was hoping for some post-show chatting, but as it was a Sunday night, I imagine people cut their evening short.
We, on the other hand, had no such thought. We made plans with our new friends to meet them at a martini bar around the corner once they had finished their wine. We grabbed our coats and said our goodbyes, stumbling (even more now after a few drinks) through rainy cobbled streets to find this unknown bar they had recommended. Down a lot of steep steps which ran parallel with a stick handrail, and through some suspicious unmarked black doors we found Dirty Martini. We perched at tall table and flicked through and even stickier menu before ordering two passion fruit martinis at the neon lit bar. We waited and waited but our new friends ever showed (hope they made it home okay), nevertheless the martinis were delicious and were 2 for 1, so we had no complaints.
It was an incredible evening and I am very grateful for the opportunity. I got to full on geek out over my favourite shows and actors and actresses around people who understood my excitement. I was absolutely in my element.