I got my exit visa from Rick’s Café last night, but I didn’t fly out of Casablanca, I got the tube.
The Future Cinema experience was exciting from before we even arrived. Booking last-minute tickets to the Casablanca evening, we had to register new identities, print out our papers and race around the charity shops to perfect our 1940′s outfits. Not quite sure how it all finally pulled together, I had made a transformation into Michaela Formankova from Italy and joined a queue of other red-lipsticked, trilby-sporting café-goers, all seeking entrance to Casablanca’s infamous café américain.
The local authorities, searching for the murderer of two Germans couriers who had secured their way of Casablanca, blew their whistles and ordered us to ‘move up!’ or to check our papers. We even met the devious Ugarte in the queue who told us that, if we were really serious about getting our visas, we could meet him in the casino at 7.30.
When we’d finally passed all the checks, we were ushered through a small door, under the iconic Rick’s Café Américain sign, and along a winding candle-lit passage to finally emerge in the beautifully restored Troxy in east London. It was magical. There was a live band playing, sequinned dancers, and actors dotted about occasionally acting out parts from the film – at a dramatic climax, our friend from the queue fired shots across the dance floor, was chased through all the tables, held at gun point, and led roughly away.
Of course we headed straight for the cocktails – and who wouldn’t? Though a little expensive (nothing I wouldn’t expect after the reasonably priced tickets) holding a cocktail glass completed our outfits and, eating some delicious Moroccan food whilst watching the buzz, the film really came alive.
By the time the film started, we were definitely in the mood to watch the world we were temporarily living in play out on the big screen. Unfortunately, because of the general excitement of the crowd, it was a little difficult to hear the film clearly, but this was more than made up for in audience participation as at each famous line everyone clapped and cheered.
When the night finally ended and we reluctantly left the exotic glamour of the Moroccan 1940′s, we were each given a beautiful chocolate poker chip courtesy of Artisan du Chocolat and, you guessed it, our exit visas!
Our evening with Future Cinema was an absolutely unique cinematic experience, and one that I hope to repeat soon.
See you at Rick’s!