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Find your happy at Dopamineland

The goal of Dopamineland is to invite viewers to an interactive and immersive “world of happiness”.  I know, I know, the world's such a joyous and carefree place at the moment, do you really have space for any more happiness? But go on, try to find some room.

The installation uses cutting-edge technology in a sequence of rooms, each designed to stimulate the senses and trigger a release of that sweet, sweet dopamine. Guests are encouraged to rediscover the limitless imagination of their childhoods and free their minds from the mounting stresses of everyday life: a mission that grows increasingly challenging by the day. 

Your trail to 'happy' starts with a voice encouraging you to breathe, decompress and take time to know the other people in the room who will be sharing the journey with you. The voice, perhaps, forgets this is England and forcing us to share an intimate experience with strangers is guaranteed to have Dopamine running and screaming from the building. Fortunately, however, the people on our 'journey' were lovely, the staggered entries ensuring no room became too crowded over the course of the visit. 

Highlights included a meditative room complete with soothing music, bean bags and lanterns. As a mother to a small baby, I am hugely in favour of day trips which involve lying in a dark room in the middle of the day. In direct contrast, was the equally enjoyable ball pit which adults and children alike can enjoy with glee. While time in the pit is regrettably short, it does mean your group pretty much has free reign during your slot, allowing you to properly bask in the joy of it, in comparison to fighting for your life at a child's soft play. Our children loved this room so much there was a momentary replacement of dopamine with unbridled fury when asked to leave.

Other rooms include the 'Popcorn' room where you step inside a giant popcorn box with your very own bag to munch through.  Hypnotic swirls of red and white appear on the walls alongside images of pouring kernels themselves. 'Are we the popcorn? Do we stay in this box forever?' asked my wide-eyed six-year-old, sparking one of many existentialist questions which she would deliver throughout the visit. Equally trippy is the room emulating an 80s video game. The aim here is to jump between flashing boxes and lights on the floor set to an electronic soundtrack until you've escaped the room - not dissimilar to how I feel about a night out in Brixton. 

The series of rooms finish with the highly anticipated trance-themed pillow fight room where we spent a considerable portion of our visit. Actual spaces and pillows designed for fighting are far more joyful than the times my children decide to declare 'pillow fight!' at 7am on a Sunday as a I desperately juggle mugs of hot tea. We left only when it became apparent that our baby had awoken to Battle Royale and was staring aghast at the fact all members of her family, her only haven in the world, were ostensibly trying to attack one another. 

If the experience sounds as if it was designed for children, it's not. The majority of guests there were couples or friendship groups keen to find a momentary escape from the everyday world. The exhibit encourages photos and videos, although this seems slightly incongruous with the 'Live in the moment!' vibe that it seeks to promote. Our advice: take minimal photos and don't rush. Savour the rooms and take your time to get the most out of the experience. It won't cure the ills of the world, but it's a solid choice for a temporary escape. 

More information and tickets available here. 

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