By Sasha Filimonov
Steam fills the space under the domed ceiling of a Victorian warehouse nestled in a Shoreditch alleyway. Bikini-clad Londoners splash about singing “Twist and Shout” as prompted by the beloved 80’s teen icon, Ferris Bueller which can mean only one thing – the Hot Tub Cinema is in session. Officially launched less than one year ago, yet this unusual method of screening films has picked up a fast following and is now expanding across the UK and to the USA.
On this particular occasion, “hot tubbers” were given the red carpet treatment as they sauntered into Hoxton’s Factory 7. Instructions were rather simple: exchange cash for plastic tokens (to purchase drinks/popcorn/etc…), tuck them into your waterproof wrist-wallet, change into your finest swimwear in the allocated gender-specific tents and dip into the inflatable tubs spread throughout the room.
The tubs are intended for six to eight people, however, as there were four lads in our group of six – it was a rather tight squeeze. Hairy knees grazed against one another as we made our initial introductions. It’s not an ideal greeting for those who might describe themselves as “coy”, but nevertheless, it aided in breaking the ice.
Though I sometimes find myself without speech when the opportunity to meet new people arises, this was an odd and surprisingly effective way to strike up a conversation with a stranger (or newly-found friend). Our group was polite and chatty – and it made for a rather enjoyable and non-terrifying evening.
Things loosened up towards the end of the night, as the animal-onesie-wearing waiters were pulled into tubs for a dance or two. A suspiciously hairy-chested Marilyn then kicked off a Hot Tub rendition of the Harlem Shake (likely to grace your YouTube feed in the near future) as the rest of our sun-deprived flesh bounced about on cue.
As much as we may revel in nostalgic cinema, this event wasn’t about Bueller…and no one really seemed to mind.
The Inception of the Hot Tub Cinema
The owner, Asher Charman, spoke of his inspiration for the events, “Hot Tub Cinema’s genesis came about eight years ago, when I persuaded two friends to buy a hot tub with me. We already had a projector, and one night I couldn’t decide whether to watch a movie or enjoy an evening in the tub. That was the eureka moment – why not combine the two?! For a number of years Hot Tub Cinema was a private event, but eventually its popularity outgrew our garden in Stoke Newington, and we decided it was time to share Hot Tub Cinema with a wider audience. In July 2012 we found a suitable venue, the event sold out, and we haven’t looked back since.”
However, Charman was tentative in the initial days prior to the launch, “When I put the tickets on sale for the first event, it was a nerve-wracking couple of days not knowing whether people would think it was too left-field or whether they’d get it…but it wasn’t long before people started buying tickets, and once they started to sell there was no stopping them! It is humbling to share your idea with the world, and for people to show such support. The only reason we do Hot Tub Cinema is to try and give people a truly different, and fun evening, and I’m proud that we are succeeding with that goal.”
Charman says of his decidedly ‘other’ events: “There’s no denying that sipping champagne in a hot tub and enjoying a well-loved film, is far more fun than being sat in silence at a traditional cinema…”