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31 Spoiler-free tips for Secret Cinema: Moulin Rouge

17 April, 2017 — by Anna James0

Please note: for our recent guide to the latest 2018 event, read our spoiler free tips for Secret Cinema: Blade Runner.

moulin rouge poster

There are no explicit spoilers below, but the more practical elements are at the beginning of the list. So if you want ticket/travel/logistic tips, but also want to enter Montmartre a little bit purer, then you can happily read until #25. There won’t be anything that will spoil your fun after that, but the later tips are more focused on enjoying yourself once you’re inside.

  1. Firstly, it is an utterly magical night – the stuff dreams are made of.
  2. To my mind it is absolutely worth the ticket price, especially the standing tickets. No spoilers, naturally, but there is a twenty minute section that for me was almost worth the ticket price alone which I would like to experience over and over again in a loop.
  3. Although initially sold out, an extension until 11th June was recently announced and there are tickets left on most nights from May onwards at various price levels on their website.
  4. There are also people regularly offering tickets for sale on the Secret Cinema Facebook page.
  5. There’s a fair amount of variation in ticket prices, which I’ll cover in the next few points. Each night has three price tiers but costs also vary depending on what night you go on. The cheapest you can get is £49 for a Creatures of the Underworld ticket on a Wednesday night, but they go all the way up to £175 for an Aristocrat ticket on a Saturday night.
  6. The key difference between days of the week is how late it runs; on Wednesdays the night wraps up pretty quickly after the screening, on Thursdays and Sundays there is about an hour’s dancing afterwards and on Fridays and Saturdays it goes on until late (around 1am).
  7. The price tiers affect more than just the seating; they dictate your character. The three price points are “Creatures of the Underworld”, “Children of the Revolution” and “Aristocrats”.
  8. Creatures of the Underworld are standing tickets (there is a small amount of unreserved seating too). This has pros and cons; you’re in the thick of it during the screening, and will be up close and personal to everything going on *but* you will have to stand throughout and if you want to buy more drinks, you’ll risk losing your spot if you’ve managed to get near the front. I would say that if you can cope with standing for the whole thing, these tickets allow for a lot of fun and interaction. Character-wise, we’re talking prostitutes, models, freaks, journalists, etc.
  9. Children of the Revolution are unreserved seated tickets. Just before the screening begins, you’ll be directed upstairs to a comfortable seating area. The seats run about five rows deep and I would recommend trying to speed up the stairs, especially if you’re in a group and all want to sit together. However it didn’t seem like any of the seats would be a terrible view. You’ll get a good view of the film and anything going on onstage, and you can easily go and buy more drinks and return to your seat. You are a little further removed from the action with the actors though, if this is important to you, but it was still a rowdy singalong upstairs. Characters are painters, writers, poets and suchlike.
  10. I’m afraid I can’t tell you much about the specific perks of being an Aristocrat but there was a separate, quieter bar area before the screening, and reserved seating with larger seats and small tables. I believe drinks are also included in the price, and the potential for some unique experiences/interactions with the actors. Characters are dukes or duchesses, marquises, or barons and baronesses.
  11. After you buy your ticket, you’ll be sent a registration email where you add some personal details and are assigned your character. You cannot edit any of this once you have registered.
  12. You’ll be asked to specify an entry time. I would recommend arriving as early as you can to give you the maximum amount of time to explore before the screening starts, but no one seemed to be checking that you were arriving at your set time. As long as you get there before the last slot you should be fine getting in.
  13. The location is a very short walk from a zone 2 tube station – less than five minutes – and you’re clearly directed. There was a very short queue to get in, where your ticket is scanned, and your bag searched. You’ll also be given a wristband if your ticket allows you to a seating area during the screening.
  14. If you haven’t printed off your ticket, they’ll still let you in with your PDF ticket on your phone.
  15. You will be given a pouch to seal your phone in, and they will check you have done this more than once before you enter. You are not allowed to take photos. Be sure to take any photos you want before you go in. Everyone in the queue will happily take photos of you and your friends, and you should return the favour.
  16. It is indoors, and warm, you won’t need a jacket or jumper once you’re in but there is a cloakroom and it’s free so you can leave coats and bags there.
  17. Women: take the smallest bag you need so it doesn’t get in the way and you don’t need to worry about it – you could probably get away with not carrying anything on you once you’ve gone via the cloakroom.
  18. Inside it is card-only – no cash, but they take contactless and everything is very easy and smooth.
  19. The food and drinks is all suitably Parisian and very plentiful. There is a pretty wide selection of Parisian street food, with short queues and relatively reasonable prices (no more than you’d pay for street food at a food market elsewhere in London). You can get a really tasty cheese crepe for £4.
  20. The drinks are also not horrifyingly expensive. Glasses of champagne and cocktails (including absinthe cocktails) are £7 – £9, a bottle of champagne is £40, and there are several prosecco and cocktail stands around the venue meaning there aren’t long queues. There are also a few more substantial bars with a wider variety of drinks.
  21. Your character comes with a backstory, costume, in-world contacts and a person you should find to get your story going. More on the storytelling and interacting later, after a few more logistics.
  22. Everyone is dressed to the nines: it would be near impossible to overdo your costume. There was the odd person who hadn’t really gone for it, and they stuck out. You’ll be given a signifier for your character – a yellow feather, or a black ribbon, or an orange handkerchief – it’s worth trying to get hold of one of those.
  23. However, don’t worry about sticking too much to the costume description if you don’t want to. If you’ve paid £80 for a ticket and you want to wear a cancan skirt but your character is assigned a cardigan, just wear a cancan skirt. As long as you’re dressed for the theme, and you have the signifier for your character, dress to feel good and to feel confident. Most of my group took inspiration from the costume description, but we ad-libbed generously.
  24. There’s a pretty extensive official shop, which stocks all the signifiers, but it’s not particularly cheap. The style of clothes are easily found all over the internet, and Amazon has plenty of cheaper alternatives (see bottom of this article). But it’s a good place to start for inspiration, or for the more niche items.
  25. On to the experience once you’re inside… I’m incredibly wary of ruining any of the wonder of seeing what Secret Cinema has created for the first time, so apologies for the fuzzy language, but you will thank me I promise once you’ve visited. One final note for people stopping here:
  26. Remember this is an immersive experience, and it’s Moulin Rouge, so it’s pretty sexy. We found most of the actors – while giving a veneer of abandon – were obviously fairly sensitive to people who were keen to interact or who weren’t but it’s something to be aware of as there were some fairly racy set pieces with plenty of audience participation. If that would make you uncomfortable, avoid interacting with the actors, or being at the front during the screening. There’s plenty to do and look at, eat and drink without that element (although arguably that element is what makes it Secret Cinema – and you are in Montmartre after all).
  27. As always with Secret Cinema, the main tip, once the above proviso is mentioned, is to interact with everyone. There are several secret rooms and bars that you won’t find unless you’re taken by an actor. I’m not going to explicitly state how to do this, because that would ruin the fun, but if an actor engages you, then absolutely run with it.
  28. If you hear bells, something is about to happen in the room you first enter as you arrive.
  29. It can be quite hard to tell who’s an actor and who’s a punter because everyone’s costumes are so incredible. But anyone who approaches you, or speaks French, is probably an actor.
  30. Just before the screening starts, it’s very much worth trying to be near the front. There is a section of pure magic just before the film begins, with a lot of interaction from the actors. While the whole night was wondrous, this was the bit that was just everything I wanted from a Moulin Rouge Secret Cinema.
  31. Again, one last proviso that you’re at the Moulin Rouge, it gets sexy. Don’t stand at the front and don’t make eye contact with any actors if you don’t want to get involved. But if you do… Just remember, what happens in Montmartre, stays in Montmartre.

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