Presented by Netflix + Fever
As experienced in Los Angeles, CA ~ June 2022
The Experience & How it Works:
The Bridgerton Experience is a real world regency ball that fans of the Netflix series can attend in select cities across the U.S. You purchase a ticket, show up at the appointed time — ideally in regency era ball attire — and enjoy cocktails, photo opps, a scavenger hunt kicked off by Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, the opportunity to present yourself to the Queen, dancing — both participatory and presentational, and a chance to be chosen as the “diamond of the season.”
Why it’s Interesting, IMHO:
Netflix has started bringing our favorite TV shows to life, and is letting us be in them. Who wouldn’t want that?! The results of Netflix’s partnership with Fever present a real world version of what Exelauno has started to do with The BizNest in virtual reality, with a little less narrative and a little more opportunity for attendees to explore the physical space.
“In an effort to break through the boundaries of storytelling, Shondaland is proud to provide audiences on a global scale with curated experiences transcending beyond their viewer experience.”
— Sandie Bailey, Shondaland’s Chief Design and Digital Media Officer.
Initial Impression & Critical Discussion:
There is something truly magical about stepping out of 2022 and into a room full of people wearing regency-era clothing. It feels even a bit more charmed when you realize that everyone is there because there’s something about this world that they love and, because of that love, they were willing to purchase tickets, procure or assemble special outfits, and — in our case — brave some of the worst traffic in the country to be there.
There’s enough eye-candy to take in when you walk through the doors that wandering and people-watching is sufficient activity for many. Still, for those restless souls, the society paper that you’re handed on your way in is the first clue in a scavenger hunt if you’re eager for a bit more dirt than is fit to print. Simultaneously, the (cash) bar is open and the photo opportunities are abundant, ready to take full advantage of the efforts you’ve put into getting dressed up and capture your visage in a portrait-esque IG-ready image.
Before you know it, court musicians are paraded through the hall and, not long after, an announcement lets you know that the Queen herself is passing through. Once she’s seated in the throne room, if you make haste, you’re able to present yourself to her majesty, trying out your finest bows and curtsies. If your presentation is noteworthy enough, you may hear the Queen’s voice commenting on your demeanor. And if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some of the more talented society folk as they present themselves to the queen… in dance. Brave souls can volunteer to learn a dance themselves to perform — in tandem with others — for the Queen.
And now that folks are warmed up, the ball itself begins. There are some dance performances by the stars of the ball, and there are also opportunities for everyone to learn era-appropriate dances, if perhaps not quite enough room on the dance floor to fully execute the moves. Before the formal program is over, the Queen selects the diamond of the season and, afterward, everyone dances — to more contemporary tunes — in celebration.
It’s worth noting that, whether you’re looking for accessories on the way in (e.g., tiaras, earrings, evening gloves) or souvenirs on the way out (e.g., t-shirts, sweatshirts, tea towels), there’s a blingtastic gift shop that’s got you covered. Also, prior to the event itself, examine the website FAQs: there’s a Rent the Runway discount for those who haven’t time to visit the modiste.
Note: This post is the first of The Look Club’s to add two new sections: Story Anchor and Pillars of Game. Not all experiences have stories and not all experiences are games. This is fine; those sections are not to judge. As The Look Club is interested in exploring the presence of story and game in immersive narrative experiences, the aforementioned sections evaluate whatever elements of each happen to be present for our collective education and a stronger understanding of the experience’s structure.
When the Queen hosts her annual ball, you and your friends and contemporaries present yourself to the queen and vie for the title of “diamond of the season.”
Story Analysis: The evening’s narrative has a beginning, middle and end; it does not have an apparent turning point — as a television episode would — that prompts the audience to wonder what will happen next. One could argue that it might be whether you are or are not selected as the “diamond of the season,” in which case, how you resolve that potential conflict with yourself and your friends may be the second act of your evening’s story.
Pillars of Game:
Voluntary Participation — check!
Goal — “Your duty is to read the first clue below and guess the missing word, then look for that word as a symbol at the location provided to find your next clue.”
This is indeed an objective, but hardly a goal. One might ask why? Or what urgency? To “test your wits and wisdom” may not be compelling enough for all.
Rules — Unclear, other than perhaps, the fact that you may only search within the premises of the event. It might be helpful if a time constraint was indicated, e.g., that you must succeed before the ball begins (which is true in the sense that once in the ball, one is not able to return to the lobby/entry hall for purposes of scavenger hunt, photo opps, etc.)
Feedback — None as far as this reader could tell.
Experiential Viewpoint Expression (E.V.E.):
Embodied, 1st person visual, 1st person narrative, participant, mortal.
Who Should Experience This?
Fans of the Netflix series or anyone who enjoys getting dressed up (in period attire) for a night — or afternoon — of entertainment and socializing.