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Suzette Field, planner of London’s best themed parties: “It’s always good when alternative culture goes mainstream”

Suzette’s triumphant themed parties, first turned heads in the 1990s when the American was among the first to earmark east London as the creative hotspot bar none. Catering for up to 3,000 people and stretching deep into the night, Suzette’s raucous parties draw inspiration from the classic (oft doomed) romances of literature.

Suzette’s Soho Valentine’s Ball this year celebrates “doomed romances over the ages, those that lead invariably to desertion, derangement, despair and death”. Expect theatre, cabaret and actors fuelling an intensely hedonistic vibe late into the night.

Suzette shared her party formula, her continually-evolving party inspiration and her views on London’s current nightlife woes with Run-Riot in our interview, more below.

Adam Bloodworth: How would you sum up your events concept, A Curious Invitation, to newbies?

Suzette Field: A team of curious and creative curators with a panache for inventing new ways to enjoy the capital.

Adam: Has Secret Cinema made alternative party culture mainstream?

Suzette: Perhaps - but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s always good when alternative culture goes mainstream because it puts the pressure on the alternative culture people to think of something fresh and innovative.

Adam: Has the trend for Great Gatsby and Prohibition-themed parties ruined 'concept' parties forever?

Suzette: Funnily enough the first nights I organised back in the late 1990s were 1920s themed nights called the Modern Times where we showed a classic black and white movie and then themed the DJs, bands, dress code and cabaret acts according to the film. They were a great, soft, accessible introduction to the art of conceptual event planning for me as a host. My parties are always concept parties: it’s just a question of keeping the concepts fresh and ever-changing to keep yourself and your guests stimulated.

Adam: How do you strive to make each of your curious events different to the last?

Suzette: Each year I will roll out a couple of parties that I have done before (with a few extra tweaks), but will also create at least one totally new party, such as last winter’s celebration of Journey to the Centre of the Earth in the old railway vaults under Waterloo Station. You have to get the balance right to make each event “the same, but different”. In other words, to retain your identifiable brand, but to offer something fresh so that your regular punters don’t get bored.

Adam: What's going on with London nightlife right now? Some say it's crumbling?

Suzette: Big party venues in the capital are disappearing at an alarming rate, but the most intrepid promoters will continue to hunt out a new location for a night of decadence and a bit of a challenge always leads to exciting new things.

Adam: What's the most criminally underrated romance in literature?

Suzette: The eternal but fragmented romance between Michael Moorcock’s Una Persson and Catherine Cornelius. Una and Catherine are lovers, revolutionaries and time-travellers as they traverse novels, centuries and different planes of existence within the Multiverse. Una is a gun-toting, bisexual member of the League of Metatemporal Adventurers: I named my daughter after her. We’ll be talking about the heroes and heroines of Science Fiction in our salon series at the Century Club this year.

Adam: What’s your Valentine's party like, is it just smushy lovebirds?

Suzette: My Valentine’s Ball this year celebrates doomed romances over the ages, those that lead invariably to desertion, derangement, despair and death. This includes the stories of Adam and Eve, Orpheus and Eurydice and Tristan and Isolde. So the party is equally applicable to smushy lovebirds, those who have loved and lost and those who are still looking for love.

Adam: When it comes to lavish parties, how many people is too many?

Suzette: When I used to run parties at the late, lamented Coronet Theatre in Elephant and Castle (now sadly scheduled for demolition) we could squeeze 3,000 in, which was a bit packed but meant that guests really got to know each other. Sadly London doesn’t have another venue of similar capacity. 800 is a nice size for a party I always think.

Adam: If you could go to one party this year, which would it be?

Suzette: I host parties at all of the big annual events including Valentine’s, Halloween and New Year’s Eve so unfortunately I don’t have time to check out the competition: much as I’d love to give myself a research trip.

Adam: There’s so much on offer at your parties - cabaret, theatre, etc - how do you ensure guests don’t just stand around drinking?

Suzette: Our golden servers spread the word on what not to miss as they dangle grapes into gaping mouths. I also email all guests a schedule in advance, and there are maps throughout the venue to help them discover all that's on offer and encourage them to explore.

A Curious Invitation
Lost Hearts - The Valentine's Masked Ball
Sat 9 February 2019
Century Club
Info and Tickets: acuriousinvitation.com