Barmitzvah at the Savoy Hotel

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The Brief

To take the stunning, newly refurbished ballroom at the historic Savoy Hotel and completely transform it into an incredible, futuristic ‘galaxy’ for a Barmitzvah party – a first for Uptown Events and The Savoy. The client gave us complete creative control over the concept of the event, with just one exception – that all tables were to be positioned around a central circular dance floor. In fulfilling this brief, our aim was to bring in exciting, thrilling, innovative elements – never seen before at private functions – to this historic venue. From the moment we were appointed, we set out to create an unforgettable experience, evolving from the moment that the invitations were hand delivered to the guests, to leaving lasting memories for the client, their family and friends, long after the party had ended.

The Party

We wanted to subtly hint at a galactic theme, without exposing what was to come on the big night itself. To achieve this, we began by suggesting the incorporation of UV elements into all stationery (invitations, menus, place cards, etc.).  We created bespoke boxes which contained a UV torch. This was to be used to discover the wording of the invitation, which was found on the underside of the lid, printed in UV ink. This idea was then carried through to escort cards – miniature UV torches – that guests used to find where they were seated in the ballroom.

On entering the lobby, a screen matching the invitation boxes blocked off the entrance to the ballroom. Another Savoy first. Guests were invited to proceed upstairs, where they were greeted by two stilt walkers dressed in green lycra and green alien inspired face paint. The mini UV torches were displayed on a ‘weird and wonderful’ human table again not yet revealing the true theme of the party and maintaining existing expectations of The Savoy.

Discrete mood lighting was used within the reception area to completely differentiate the two areas of the party. These then began to flicker as a distorted pre-recorded voice of the Barmitzvah boy called guests to dinner. The screen, now removed, revealed a bright white tunnel feature, enabling guests to prepare for the experience awaiting within. Space-like rumbling noises guided guests through the tunnel, which contained a series of perspective arches and an image on the far wall creating an optical illusion of infinity.

All existing chandeliers were removed from the ceiling allowing us to construct internally-lit giant Saturns suspended from a ground support truss – creating a total futuristic 3D environment. This was then filled in with gauze to darken the room and create an intimate atmosphere. Along with this, the walls of the ballroom were star clothed and twinkled throughout the evening – something never previously attempted at The Savoy. The entire ballroom was re-carpeted in midnight blue with large circular pods set in the corners of the room. The pods were luxurious enclaves for teenage guests, with illuminated steps creating access from the main floor. During the evolution of the event concept, the dance floor was changed from circular to oval and was painted to resemble the moon’s surface. The stage was painted to complement the dance floor with LED strip lighting on the steps, allowing space for a mirrored DJ booth and live musicians. Behind the DJ booth a prominent 14 foot alien structure was built to overlook the dance floor and tables.

The alien was initially hidden from guests by a floor to ceiling kabuki curtain onto which a 12 foot video projection of the Barmitzvah boy greeting his guests was played. For such a spectacular party, an equally dramatic entrance was necessary. As a keen dancer, the Barmitzvah boy, together with his dance teacher, choreographed an exciting routine.  We designed and created bespoke LED costumes to synchronise the dance movements to music. The suits were meticulously programmed enabling every beat of music to have its own emphasis. The room went into blackout and the kabuki drop revealed the Barmitzvah boy and his teacher inside, ready to begin their dance.

To match the ceiling planets, we also built bespoke internally-lit tables with painted perspex tops, resembling Earth’s surface from space, which subtly changed colour throughout the different courses of dinner and all turned red to introduce the beginning of any cabaret act. Each oval table featured a custom-made centrepiece consisting of a flocked black abstract tree with roots trailing the length of the table. These were decorated with blue sprayed orchids to soften the overall appearance. Using the existing stage within the ballroom, we differentiated the bar area using a curved staircase and detailed railing. This provided an additional viewing platform for all cabaret performances.

Through extensive collaboration with the Head Chef at The Savoy, an original menu evolved using galactic imagery. We created a different concept for each course, using test tubes and dry ice for an intermediate soup course, syringes for sauces and carved blocks of ice to hold desserts resembling the solar system.

To complete the evening, we selected three creative acts to perform between courses and dancing. These consisted of an acrobalance act, stunt skaters from the Moscow State Circus and LED hula hoopers. Each act had a varying tempo, slowly building throughout the night, leading into the final dance set with an electric atmosphere.

To enhance all elements from start to finish, our lighting rig was imperative. We used 84 moving lights in the ceiling alone, allowing us to wash the room with explosions of colour. Together with these, a huge variety of lights were used to set the tone, enabling us to completely transform the ballroom and bring the room to life.

Based on feedback from guests, suppliers and The Savoy, the event was an unprecedented success. For Uptown Events, it was our most ambitious transformation project to date, accomplishing exactly what we set out to achieve. The room became the futuristic environment we had conceptualised and left the guests with fantastic memories. The client emailed describing her delight, stating it was “the night of her life, totally terrific in every way!”

Click here to watch how we transformed the room

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