Finding solid footing after a blindfolded leap of faith is a reward all on its own. I knew barely a thing stepping through the doors of Hoxton Hall, but here I was, dressed in blue jeans and a white shirt, like all the other attendants. A tale of love and connection. A dystopian matchmaking institute, promising success rates of 100%. The price of love? We’d soon find out.
Fidelity, Fortitude and Self Discipline – the three pillars of the Institute. Modern technology has cheapened love. Available at our fingertips, a game of swiping left or right, not ever seeing the people behind potential matches. We were here to make a change, to find true connection. The corridors of Hoxton hall are weirdly fitting for the restricted, rule-ridden six-week program we had enlisted ourselves in. If you have ever seen a slightly rotund Colin Farrell try to find love in The Lobster – maybe imagine something the likes of that – minus the absurdist twist. Obligatory bread making classes, food for two 101. All of us, including the actors, dressed the same, each of us with a number slapped across our chest. I was 1020. There would be no exercising alone. No chewing gum. No hugging. No masturbation. And very importantly, absolutely no dancing alone.
Soon, we met the director of the institute, a slightly scary-looking man with a maniacal glint in his eyes. Our instructors at the Institute, all with wide, but maybe somewhat forced smiles? No laughing, no talking. Stand in a single file. We were addressed by our number, CCTVs following our every move. After having been taught the ropes of a formal dance, it was time for our very first dance social. It was made utterly clear that the importance of this was not to be underestimated, we might very well encounter a potential mate here! So there we were, on the dance floor, paired at random with a partner. I danced with another twenty-and-something guy, equally inept as me in following the exact dance moves of the routine. We are pulled to the side by one of the instructors, sternly told off for our laughing and bad dancing.
It was from the sideline then that we suddenly saw a commotion. One of our instructors, moments before just as strict and disciplined as the others. But now – he was dancing… alone. Panicked chaos fills the room as he jumps on stage, pirouetting like his life depended on it. He is beaming, the first proper, honest happiness I had seen on one of the instructors’ faces. In a trance, he rips of his shirt and keeps dancing, while the others are begging him to stop. And then, the director intervenes. Soon after, the Institute shows its darker side…
As promised, in the end, we found ourselves on the dance floor once more – our numbers ripped off. There was dancing, and hugging. Rules had been broken. We were free. I had entered the show at 19:30 and left at around midnight, wide smile across my face. The transition from immersive storytelling to reality has never been resolved this thoughtfully, fully incorporated in the experience. Back home, I tried telling my friends about The Last Dance. And while I could tell about what happened, I really found no words for how much fun I had had, how much we had laughed, how incredible it all had been. We danced, and oh, how we danced. I stepped through the doors alone, but during the show I talked to so many people, had fun with all of them, sharing little moments. The Last Dance was everything. A tense narrative experience, full of revelations, of catharsis, of pure fun. It was utterly bizarre, in the greatest way. It really is something you should (and you really should!) experience for yourself. Never did anything feel forced or awkward, the tone was just right. Reuben Feels hit the nail on the head with this one.
Photos by Rajvi Vaya.