Future Cinema presents Dirty Dancing at Hackney Downs

One of the largest outdoor screenings of 2013 has been Future Cinema’s Dirty Dancing at Hackney Downs, with a run spanning three days (Friday 30th August- Sunday 1st September). Swarms of people gather in fancy dress, all in costume as Baby, Johnny, hula girls or bedecked in 60s headscarves.  The queues for entry are so long that bemused walkers in the park stop to ask “What on earth is going on?”

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Dirty Dancing (1987) is part of the collective female psyche, and a seemingly feminine version of football hooliganism abounds. Once the film starts, malevolent characters are booed and vehemently heckled, yet when love scenes are beamed across the grass there is a collective intake of breath and whoops of joy. This is a film that people are passionate about. The vast majority of the audience are women who know the script word for word and leap up off their picnic blankets for every song and dance.

dirty dancing

What makes Future Cinema’s screening so special is its festival vibe. The Facebook event alone had thousands confirmed as attending, and the place is awash with people. The park resembles the main stage of a festival – except with people flash mobbing rather than moshing. Actors re-enact the scenes shown onscreen in the flesh: there is Johnny’s chalet (where the romance happens), the talent show, mass hula hooping sessions, art lessons – even a large replica of the staff quarters (the most happening place to be, with a real onsite disco) and the legendary ballroom where “nobody puts Baby in a corner”. No detail has been left untouched, and there is even a chance to hold the infamous watermelons, which is no easy feat!

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Future Cinema has created a totally immersive experience, and recreating Kellerman’s Vacation Resort was a wonderful idea. Rather than forcefully thrusting the audience into the event, it invites them with food, drink, theatre, dancing, cinema and much more! At the end of the night, no one wanted to leave this rollercoaster of a holiday. From nostalgic tears at the memory of Patrick Swayze, to throwing beach balls into the air with wild abandon, this was a perfect way to spend one of the remaining days of summer.

Our rating: *****

Anne x