Sunrise champagne is being passed between us on Waterloo Bridge. We’ve been up all night and we’re still partying. Fifteen strong, we’re a band of sisters and brothers taking a vibrant, shimmering stand against mediocrity. I don’t think we’re ever going to stop. We’re the self-proclaimed princesses and princes of up all night abandon. Smudged mascara. Ball gowns. Black tie charm and disarming laughter.
What’s the story here?
Swaying stilettos. Cascading red roses. Come and dance with us in our mirror shades, cummerbunds and feather boas. We’ve got a bass-heavy beat box in a requisitioned shopping trolley playing Uptown Funk and, as you can see, our dance moves may be enthusiastic but they’re not exactly professional.
What’s the story here?
‘Up all night’ is the story.
Maybe we’re an extended ‘High Society’ wedding celebration or maybe we’re a West End show’s opening night bash that has spilled out onto the streets looking for a high-protein breakfast to head off the hangover.
But d’you know what? There will be no hangover. We’re pretending. The champagne we’re swigging is apple juice and fizzy water. Yes, this is all an act, welcome to ‘Black Tie White Lie’.
Black Tie White Lie is immersive street performance. Since 2011 Dawn and I have been running these Sunday morning get togethers for people like us who LOVE that ‘up all night feeling’ but can’t hack it any more. Attendees prepare their costumes on Saturday evening, set the alarm, get a good night’s sleep, then join us on Waterloo Bridge at 10am, ready to dance and let their hair down. Black Tie White Lie is not a spectator sport though, when the curtain goes up we are ON and fully committed for the next two hours.
Like any performance there are protocols. When we’ve danced enough in fountains we go in search of a spacious outdoor South Bank Cafe. Giraffe know us quite well now by now. Lol. They know that as soon as I open the glass door our whole dishevelled party of revellers is going to burst into uncontrollable laughter while I fall on the floor, helpless. I’ll be quickly whisked up by my co-conspirators and, of course, we’ll all pretend we’re not drunk at all so we’ll be allocated the biggest table in the house. It’s a double-bluff. Young parents with prams and lattes gaze at us, longingly. Their kids come and watch us as we recite emotional poems and propose outrageous toasts to each other, or the moon, or a stranger’s hat.
Why not join us? We do them in New York too. If there is one word to sum up Black Tie White Lie it’s this. Permission. Should we need permission to dance in the streets, twirl in fountains fully dressed and declare our love of life itself?
No. Definitely not. Unless it’s our own permission to ourselves and our ‘up all night’ friends.