I was delighted to go to Lady Whistledown’s ball in a secret venue near Wembley Stadium in London. As a big fan of the first season of “Bridgerton,” I was anticipating the event.
“Bridgerton,” which quickly became Netflix’s most-watched series in 2021, follows the love story of the Bridgerton family’s eldest daughter, Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), and a mysterious duke, Simon (Regé-Jean Page).
I was enthralled and in awe by the show’s diverse casting and intense scandals and I had the opportunity to experience those feelings again when I went to an immersive “Bridgerton” event hosted by Secret Cinema and Fever.
At Whistledown’s Society Ball, fans could take part in an interactive performance of the show’s first season.
Before the event, you are instructed to create a character and learn simple dances on a special website. Each dance number was based on a famous pop song.
My favorite dance was “The Toxic Twist,” a reference to Britney Spears’ famous hit, because of the eccentric poses you have to do. There was also a fun dance number based on Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”
The website also has a shop where you buy costumes or use the suggested outfits as inspiration for your own. The clothes are a bit pricey so I personally settled for a mix between the shop items and what I could get elsewhere.
I bought a top hat and waistcoat for the event and then used my own formal outfits to finish the look.
After arriving at the Wembley Park station, we were directed by employees in costume with signs to the secret venue.
The walk did not take long and the people directing us were pleasant and already using posh accents to instruct us.
The entrance alone was like stepping into a different world from the dark London streets. At the front was a beautifully decorated artificial bush where you can pose for a picture before heading in.
Once inside, VIP guests can use a cloakroom to store their coats and bags while normal ticket attendees had to use a locker.
Unfortunately, at this point, I had to seal my phone in a special bag so I could fully leave behind the modern world and step back in time.
The first section of the venue is a gift section where you can buy more costume items or “Bridgerton” themed makeup. The cosmetics shop doubled as a backstage dressing room with multiple mirrors where people could try out the products.
My plus-ones were two women, who immediately dragged me into the makeup shop, owned by company Pat Mcgrath Labs. The assistants there helped scores of attendees test the “Bridgerton” themed makeup being sold.
There was also a photo booth on the right side of the room.
The venue was split into five scene-specific rooms.
When we finally moved on to the main section of the ball, we discovered it was split into five scene-specific rooms with walkways between them.
There was a regal bar immediately to the right where guests could grab one of the many special drink options, gamble in games of Blackjack, or have their own private party in the VIP sections.
The art room was based on the studio Benedict Bridgerton visits in episode four of the first season. The room was dark, cramped, and messy, much like the show. Unfortunately the crowds made the room feel suffocating.
Throughout the night, guests could show off their artistic talent using old brown paper and charcoal which was a nice touch. You could later show the queen the drawings and win her favor.
My favorite room was the middle room which housed two beautifully decorated fake trees that looked like they were from a fantasy story. The room was bathed in a purple glow, which was lit by electric-ball lights later in the night.
The middle room, which I nicknamed the fairytale room, connected to the main dance hall, the gym, and the art room.
This room contained another bar and the main food section. Most of the food options were close to £10 (about $13) so I probably would have eaten beforehand if not for the food token for one free meal that came with my VIP ticket.
Whilst I did not get to try any of the themed alcoholic drinks, I did try the “loaded dandy duck fat fries” which were sweet and quite delicious.
There was also so much going on at the beginning of the night that I didn’t really want to stop to get food until the end.
The main hall was a grand area where guests can dance. In the center lay a raised stage used for reenacting scenes at certain points of the night.
The main dance hall was bigger than any of the other rooms.
At the back of the hall was a Queen Charlotte actress who sat on a throne overlooking the partygoers. With the massive wig and beautiful blue dress, the look-alike actress rivaled the elegance of the queen (Golda Rosheuvel) in the actual series.
There was also a bright-red carpet that led from the throne to the raised stage. The queen was always seen with her royal servant.
To the queen’s right was another raised section where a small orchestra played classical music versions of pop hits. If you’ve seen the show you know how much it loves orchestral versions of modern songs.
During the night, I heard versions of Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.”
On the queen’s left was a raised section for VIP guests to access and look over the events of the night like nobility.
The dance hall also housed another food shop, this one serving crepes, and two more bars.
The gym was based on the boxing ring seen in multiple scenes of the show. The atmosphere was complete with harsh orange lights and a lot of dust which really made the room feel like a real gym.
My friends and I were dragged here as soon as we stepped into the main section of the ball.
On three walls lay rows of seats surrounding the giant boxing ring in the center. On the fourth wall was the final bar with more themed cocktails.
Hanging above the room were flags of almost every country, although it was unclear if they were accurate to the period of time “Bridgerton” is set.
In this room, actors instructed guests in choir performances of the classic “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley. There was also a theatrical performance of the boxing match in the first-season finale with two actors duking it out in the ring.
Actors also taught dancing routines and organized push-up and planking contests in which guests could participate to win special keys.
In multiple rooms across the venue, actors portraying each of the main characters performed the first half of season one of “Bridgerton.” One guest told me that all the activities of the night “definitely exceeded my expectations.”
The difficult part was keeping up with the story because you were never instructed when or where a scene would take place.
At one point, I caught a crowd forming outside the bar only to catch the end of the Simon actor beating up Nigel Berbrooke, the creep who tried to force Daphne to marry him in season one.
The actors also interacted with the audience during some scenes. At one point, a Prince Friedrich actor instructed the crowd to sing a fake German lullaby to cheer up a crying Philippa Featherington.
There was also a moment when the Anthony Bridgerton actor asked me a question about how to save the honor of his sister Daphne.
This was slightly embarrassing because, due to the chaos of all the acting going on, I was not paying attention and had to ask him to repeat himself.
On multiple occasions in the night, the party converged in the dance hall for key moments in the story. At this point, the lights would go off and giant white curtains would be brought into the center of the room around the raised stage. Scenes of the show would be projected on these curtains.
While actors portrayed key moments, such as the duel between Anthony and the Duke, scenes from the show would also be projected on the giant curtains that relate to the stage performance.
One of my favorite performances of the night was the reenactment of the boxing match from episode four in the dance hall. The fight on the raised stage would be paused at moments to show other confrontations between Daphne and Simon in the series.
If you haven’t seen the show, this part could have been confusing. But I personally thought it was beautiful to have the scenes of emotional turmoil juxtaposed against a physical fight.
Most of the actors playing main character roles looked eerily similar to the real-life actors. At first glance, I thought the Daphne actress was Phoebe Dynevor herself, especially in her replica blue dress.
The actress playing Daphne almost looked exactly like the real Daphne actress Phoebe Dynevor and she really captured the character’s innocence.
I must admit the Duke didn’t closely resemble Page, although that is a hard standard to reach. He was, however, able to imitate the Duke’s guarded and formal mannerism in his acting.
The actresses playing the Featheringtons also played their roles splendidly, especially the actress playing Portia, who was every bit as cunning as her TV show counterpart and was more than happy to reveal a secret or two.
Guests could also compete to become the diamond of the first water. In the show, the title is given by the queen to the most beautiful woman in the town. You could be a candidate for this honor by impressing the queen actress.
A “Bridgerton” ball would be incomplete without the faux monarch of the night also awarding the diamond of the first water.
The way this activity functions wasn’t properly explained beforehand but throughout the night guests could impress the queen by winning keys, learning secrets, or participating in activities such as dancing and drawing.
These winners were then brought to the front towards the end of the night where they were interviewed by the queen and whittled down to one winner via a crowd vote.
One candidate got to sit with the queen actress. Hallie Yearwood told me she impressed the faux monarch by posing in a fashion runway show that night. The queen personally took her hand and brought her to the throne.
Yearwood said that she fanned the actress and gossiped with her while she was up there.
“The meeting was intense but wonderful,” Yearwood told me. “It was nerve-wracking because she is such a regal figure.”
Yearwood said it was “amazing” to be up for the opportunity of winning the honor in front of everyone, adding, “I was actually shitting my pants.”
Everyone converged into the dance hall for a dramatic end for the wedding. Everyone is then allowed on the raised stage along with the actors as “Raining Men” came on, signaling the end of the event.
After this, the formal event essentially switched to a club, playing normal pop club songs until all the guests left. The actors disappeared, the queen’s throne was replaced with a DJ, and phones were allowed out of their pouches.
One character noticeably absent was the voice of Lady Whistledown. It would have been great to see replicas of the gossip letters to help the audience know what was going on during the night if they missed a scene.
The best part is that the night felt like an individual adventure. I stepped into the world of “Bridgerton” and got to craft my own experience in the backdrop of the drama of the show. The only problem is that this meant I only saw glimpses of the story, which was a little disorientating when you interact with a later scene.
Apart from this, it was an unforgettable experience that certainly got me excited to see the second season of “Bridgerton” which arrived on
on March 25.
While the immersive event has ended in the UK, a similar event organized by the same company, Fever, will open in the US cities of Chicago, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles in April and May.
Insider received a complimentary ticket for this event.