This year, my mate wanted to do something a bit different for his birthday. This is how last week I ended up sharing a double bed in a theatre overnight with a man who wasn’t The Man, and wondering whether someone had perhaps slipped an E into my mint tea before bed.
I had only ever heard of Duckie in connection with gay nights at the Vauxhall Tavern, so I really wasn’t sure how likely they would be to be able to send me asleep.
And that is the whole idea of ‘Lullaby’ (the clue is in the name). You pays your money and you decide whether you (and your companions) would like a single, double or even triple bed. On arrival at Level -2 (about 10pm-ish), you are met with muted lighting and big squidgy sofas (that aren’t usually there). You sign in and are assigned a bed number.
Pyjamas and slipper-clad attendants show you up to a communal (but not too open-plan) changing room where you brush your teeth, take out your contacts, put your pyjamas on and don your slippers before being shown back down and having any belongings safely locked away for the night. There was one gay couple there who were wearing matching PJs and had even brought their teddies along with them!
There is hot chocolate or tea (mint, green or camomile only) on offer, before you are ushered in to the Pit Theatre, which has been transformed into a circular stage surrounded by 20+ beds. You find your own (we had my lucky number – 13) and jump into the lovely crisp clean bedding (provided by Toast).
Once everyone is settled, the show begins. But this is a show with a difference, it has been created to relax and send you off into a peaceful slumber. There were som rather bizarre looking animals, some songs, some stories (one about a man who had an imaginary family which I would love to know the end of), a magic show, light shows and dancing octopuses (octopi?).
At one stage, I turned to my mate and said “This must be what it’s like for a baby ALL the time!”. It felt truly freaky in some parts. however, it must have done the trick as I usually don’t go to sleep until at least midnight, but just after the interval (for any of those who needed a final wee or fag) I put on my complimentary eye-mask (great idea) and stuck in my complimentary earplugs and apparently drifted off (as I didn’t hear the end of the imaginary family story!)
I felt slightly self-conscious to start with as I do sleep hugging the duvet generally with my bum hanging out the bed!
I think I woke up at my natural waking time (about 6.50am) and of course had no idea what the time was. I had woken a couple of times during the night, but that is actually less than I usually do, and I went straight back to sleep which is very unusual for me!
At 7.30, we were treated to the ‘Dawn Chorus’ which I thought was a birdsong soundtrack – until I actually sat up and saw that they had put a big coop with lots of little fluffy yellow chicks in the middle of the room with a mic over it. Everyone put their slippers on and went straight over to soak up the cute fluffiness!
Then it was slipper-shuffling off to a buffet-style breakfast of boiled eggs, croissants, cereal, juice, tea, coffee, jam etc where everyone discussed how they’d slept and what bizarre dreams the show had induced. And all that was left was to get dressed and leave!
It was an extremely unusual experience, but pretty fun – although I am glad I didn’t do it on my own.