Books, Fashion

Alice’s Adventures Underground …

And everywhere else!

Flamingo walls. Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Flamingo walls. Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

Since September, I’ve been feeling a bit lost in Wonderland—or, in my case, London. It’s a place so much like home and yet so strangely different in its details that I find myself feeling a bit like a wandering Alice in a new mad world where I’m never quite sure if I’ve slipped through the looking glass forever or if I’m just searching for the best path home.

And then, within my wonderings, I began to notice that London has developed its own Alice fever… the girl is everywhere from emerging patters and silhouettes and color themes in fashion to afternoon teas (1,2,3,4), to advertised events across the city (1,2,3,4,5), even stamps! It’s only recently that I discovered why:

2015 is the 150th Anniversary of Alice and Wonderland’s first publication.

The celebrations are bigger than any un-birthday the Hatter and Hare could ever come up with… but many are probably just as mad.

Of all these events, the maddest of them all would have to be the interactive experience worth visiting again and again: Alice’s Adventures Underground.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

I was able to attend this event last Saturday, in what one site led me to believe was the last weekend, and it was an amazing evening. And, luckier still, the event is NOT over. In fact, it’s running through August, which means I’ll be lining up to go at least one more time.

This event has multiple parts from a children’s show, a literary talk series, the interactive experience for up more grown up folk and a club area that stays open later each of which has a separate ticket and therefore price—make sure you’re buying for the right thing! (The children show is for children; no adult permitted without child—check that ticket!) In this post, I’ll be focusing on the Interactive show.

Since this is ongoing and who knows which of you might be gearing to go out, I don’t want to give too much away but I’ll tell you a little more about what you are in for than the main website does:

So, what you’ll learn from the website is that this is an interactive show based on the works by Lewis Carroll where you’ll get to explore a unique version of Wonderland by being part of it, all located within the bowels of The Vaults under Waterloo station.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

When you pick your time, you should be aware that you MUST arrive 15 minutes before that allotted time (again, this is on the site), however, if you want to have something to drink when you get to the in world tea party (you must prepay and preorder before going in to the show), get in the right mind set, have a pre-show drink, go to the bathroom, check your coats and bags (it costs 1 pound each checked item), or anything else you feel you need to do, get there even earlier. It’s also a little bit crazy trying to find the entrance so set out earlier than you think you do; you’ll thank me later.

There is also a dress code: you are in the land of the Queen of Hearts so it’s all red and black. Please, guys, for me (yes, this is begging) stick to the dress code! One thing I hadn’t realized before this adventure was that I’m an Alice. My wardrobe would be fit for playing the character, all blues and collars and with my blond hair and petite frame, even the actors played with the resemblance! Still, there were a few blues popping in and out of groups and it was the biggest pain as someone who was embracing the whole experience. Seriously, enjoy the night and go all in—it’s more fun that way!

Like I said, you have to check your coat and bag, but I encourage you to keep cash on you. You are let out into a great space where you can get more drinks and some food, and while you can go back and get your stuff and return to eat, it’s just easier if you have the cash stashed on your person. And it’s hot down there, so keep your layers light.

Now onto the stuff they don’t tell you:

The set is amazing and you will have choices as you interact within it. You enter in through this maze of boxes which let out into a room full of artifacts; pictures hanging from the ceiling, book shelves climbing the walls at impossible angles, mirrors and toys. Take a wander and explore—it’s not exactly a museum so you can touch, just don’t disrupt anything. Beware: don’t get too close to the walls as the doors are hidden and spring open to let you down the next passage ways.

Storytelling wise, you are entering Wonderland after Alice has come and gone, her name and person is a banned subject. The black cards (the clubs and spades) are part of an uprising in Wonderland, fighting to take down the King and Queen of Hearts, the reds (Hearts and Diamonds), on the other hand, are solving the conspiracy. Each suit will follow its own adventure—even coming in a group won’t guarantee you’ll all stay together so you should choose if you want to try sticking together as much as you can or all meet up at the end of the line.

If you are anxious about talking to characters or being approached, you should be aware that it’s possible that this is going to happen. You can either fight through or, if you are struggling, an actor will help you out. Even then, you very rarely have to do anything completely on your own. Don’t not go because you don’t want to be singled out—it’s worth it, I promise.

Alice's Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. March 2015.

Alice’s Adventures Underground, The Vault, London. April 2015.

When you do get to the end, don’t think this is just a room with a band, besides the wandering characters (who are definitely worth having a chat or to with), live music and food, there is a maze that leads through to a second bar as well as the makings of a royal flamingo croquet course for you to play with some friends through the “PIES” door and up the stairs. This is also the only space besides the pre-show room that you are allowed to take pictures in—yes, of and with the wandering characters as well.

That’s all you’re getting from me, at least, for now. Let me know with a comment if you have any questions and I’m sure to answer what I can. Also, here’s a master list I found with other Wonderland inspired events going on through and further out from London, so check your local listings.

Remember: It’s a mad world and we’re all mad here, but the best people usually are…

–Taylor Gallagher


The Darling Buds: One hell of an evening.

Have you ever have left a show with the instant need to plug back into the music and dance across town until you finally pass out in bed for the night? The kind of show that leaves you singing for days?

Well, see a show by the brit boys The Darling Buds and you almost certainly will.

The venue:


Huxton Square Bar & Kitchen is made up a three smaller spaces: a restaurant currently advertising their pizza selection across the website; the bar which I didn’t see much of except that it was pretty packed (though this could have been an irregularity due to a show night); and, finally, the back room where the show takes place.

The backroom is decently sized to rival any small club venue. Nowhere on the floor seems too far away from the stage so really only the crowd itself may become a sight issue.

At the back of the room is a second bar so you can keep drinking through the wait and opening show without fighting your way through the other crowd outside the doors.

I set up along the left side of the room right by the stage stairs. You may be tempted to get into the center stage area and I don’t blame you—I’ve done it myself countless times—but why fight for that when this spot gives you everything.

I wasn’t at the front of the line to get on but this space was clear. There was a table sticking out from the side stage storage compartment that was a nice storage space for a jacket if you are willing to risk it and a nice lean space in the long wait periods before things get to crowded.

This spot is between the two spaces the talent—if you will—passes through—the stage stairs and the door to what I can only imagine is the greenroom—which is quite interesting.

The view of the show is great as long as your there for the music and not just to grab at whoever is on the stage. If you want to see everyone on the band, you’re a little far to the side for a really clear shot but honestly you shouldn’t have anyone knocking into you and space to dance around.

Opening act:

The opening act was a quartet of boys from York called Hello Operator. I couldn’t place the ages of the band but they were young with quite the interesting sound. Oh, and they were very polite as they passed us on the way up to the stage—very nice boys.

They played a good set but the interesting thing which really stood out was the front man’s voice. It was the kind of voice that sounded like it was coming from somewhere between the back of neck and a head voice—a slight whine but with an unexpectedly strong edge.

They had a great stage presence however their age showed in some of the movements which seemed slightly stilted and rehearsed rather than something fluid or organic. Because of this I found myself watching the singers hand on his guitar rather than his larger physical movements—the glide of his fingers from one chord to the next was the opposite of the larger movements—well practiced and precise to flow with little effort.

Despite this larger stilted movements of halfhearted headbangs, I read an underlying and undeniable talent in a moment that could have ended up a disaster. After fumbling with pulling a pick out of his pocket, the lead singer strummed a measure or two before dropping the pick and moving on like none of it happened—completely smooth. I’m not sure which parts of this were timed and practiced and which just happened but between this and the sounds they produced, these boys are worth keeping an eye on.

The main event:

IMG_3828I’ve been lucky enough to see The Darling Buds preform twice before back in LA and, if I’ve learned anything from these shows, I’ve learned that they never disappoint. Listening to them play live gives you a totally different experience than listening to an album or even rewatching the shows in YouTube—which there are plenty to choose from, by the way, if you want to give these boys a listen.

From the change of inflection in every show to the added expletives to the ways they interact with everything around them, this is a band I can go see over and over again without regrets of either time or money spent. There is always something worth seeing when The Darling Buds take the stage.

If you’re looking to only hear the band play, you’ll be out of luck. The crowds who flock to these boys know every word to every song and watching the expressions and the bits of language which spill from the boys is well worth listening to crowd scream lyrics back at the stage. They seem to be preforming pretty regularly, and still are blown away from the audiences enthusiasm and they definitely embrace and even play with that spirit whenever they can.

If you end up in this crowd and don’t know the words yet—one of the lovely ladies I met last night didn’t—you won’t be left out. The sound these boys make lets you rock with the crowd and you don’t need to know anything more than how to appreciate good music to get swept away with the rest of us.

I went to this show alone but was quickly welcomed to scream and sing with a small group of fans—dancing and just enjoying my night. And from what I can tell, this isn’t an odd experience in this global group that is nothing short of a fandom. There are no outsiders in a room like this and that’s just one of a million reasons I could give to go see these boys in action just as soon as you are able.

I’ve been to a lot of concerts throughout my life in all kinds of venues and musical genres, but it is bands like this ad venues like this that really make the experience of standing in a small room, dancing like an idiot, screaming until you can’t speak for days and ending up covered in both your own sweat and the sweat of who knows how many other equally excited people that makes me come back time and time again.


When it comes to watching a show put on by these lovely men, my recommendation above all else is, when the crowd really gets going, stop looking through the camera lens you’ve no doubt been filming through—seriously so many videos!—and just look at Jamie Bower and the rest of the Darling Buds’ faces as they listen to the crowd sing.

That’s love and that’s the reason you should love these boys and the noise they make. It sweeps you up and definitely feels like magic.

–Taylor Gallagher