As immersive theater expands in popularity, it has found its way from extreme haunts to non-horror theatrical productions to even silent dinners and debaucherous parties. Taking this idea one step further, Disco Dining Club plunges guests into lavish and themed dinner parties surrounded by decadent sets and immersive entertainment. Haunting had the chance to sit down with creator Courtney Nichols and Andy Alexander (The Grim Wreather) to see what’s in store for guests during Disco Dining Club’s upcoming Halloween experience, The Flowering of the Strange Orchid.
Embrace the Whimsy
Nichols describes the nearly 4-year-old Disco Dining Club as “a thematic and theatrical dining experience where we ask our guests to be their most exaggerated selves. We harken the glory days of dinner parties, in which an eccentric host was at the helm, and guests were expected to truly revel in the evening’s delights.”
A fan of kitsch, color, and camp, Nichols “always reminds new guests that no outfit is too bold, too colorful, or too absurd. Disco Dining Club is a rare opportunity to embrace your whimsy, and your outfit can (but is no way obligated to) reflect just that. Come hungry, come thirsty, come willing.”
Maintaining their whimsical namesake, Disco Dining Club has previously explored themes ranging from “Faberge, Surrealist, Blade Runner, Shanghai Express, Hall of Mirrors, and James Bond. Our belief? That there were moments of decadence throughout history that led to the ultimate decadence: disco.”
A Botanical Horror Story
Disco Dining Club’s first multiple-evening event, The Flowering of the Strange Orchid will run October 26-28th and is limited to 50 guests per night. Taking its cue from the H.G. Wells short story of the same name, The Flowering of the Strange Orchid “explores the symbiotic and bloodthirsty relationship between a homely Victorian man and his carnivorous orchid.” With the help of collaborator Andy Alexander, aka The Grim Wreather, Nichols and her team “are recreating the mansion that housed the man and his orchid, as well as the greenhouse where the man first learned of his flower’s carnal cravings.”
Despite this being a Halloween-time event, for Disco Dining Club, the experience is not about gore and jump scares. Instead, Nichols describes the event as “mood driven. The house – wrought with unusual flora and fauna – will appear to be listening to all who enter. Overgrown ivy and dilapidated brick will provide the dinner’s scenic backdrop. Guests will be thrust into the poetically lush and at times quixotic world of The Flowering of the Strange Orchid. The event offers a portal into an atmospheric world where man and plant have become one.”
Keeping specifics to herself, Nichols teases that “the evening will consist of both roaming actors and stationary moments interspersed throughout the house and the backyard. The Grim Wreather will be fabricating a Victorian “haunted” greenhouse where the dinner will take place, which will also be the focal point for all theatrical displays.” While not a strict retelling of the source material, the event will embrace “Victorian horror tropes, while also visually showcasing a feminine side to gore and suspense.”
The decadence Nichols speaks of is truly apparent in the exquisite dinner experience. In the years since its inceptions, Disco Dining Club “has produced near 35+ events, each with a new theme, new chef, new mixologists, and new performers. For The Flowering of the Strange Orchid, we aggregated our all-stars for a 3-night indulgent display…and asked them to elevate Halloween at a 1906 mansion in Harvard Heights. Each Disco Dining Club showcases renowned artisans, each on the brink of fame.” Nichols says this event will be no exception; it will feature a 5-course meal by Laurent Quenioux of LQ Foodings, paired cocktails by Timothy Baxter of Baxter’s Speakeasy, ceremonial tea from OneTea, and even (yikes!) bug pairings from Bugible.
Nichols stresses that everything meant for consumption “fits into the larger theme of botanical horror. Musical performances, theatrical dialogue, and other such activations will be both timed to courses and will take place at random moments throughout the estate.”
The grounds, in addition to the meal, are also meant for guests to feast (their eyes) on. Nichols describes how Disco Dining Club “is infusing the entire set, venue, and dinner table with an onslaught of flora and fauna that have taken a liking to human blood. The Grim Wreather’s installation pieces often utilize synthetic flowers, which naturally lends itself to the event theme. Botanical horror is the best representation of both of our love affairs with theatrics, color, and the Halloween season.” Nichols continues, “guests will most certainly be able to roam around the 1906 mansion. The mansion is overgrown and almost appears to be breathing – the perfect backdrop for carnivorous plants and their unsuspecting owners.”
A Perfect Party
Nichols and The Grim Wreather “wanted to create a truly astounding visual experience, matched with a truly astounding culinary experience. The marriage of our two worlds has resulted in an over-the-top production that will be nothing short of awe-inspiring. The Flowering of the Strange Orchid creates a unique horror experience unlike a haunted house. We are scripting an event that is reminiscent of classic horror experiences where set and setting are the focus.”
The Flowering of the Strange Orchid “is a truly luxurious, elevated Halloween experience and, therefore, we want each of our dinner guests to feel catered to, pampered, and overall astonished.” Nichols assures us that “there is absolutely something for everyone and each guest will have the opportunity to partake in all the fanciful moments. It is important to note that this event is 21+.”
At each Disco Dining Club event, Nichols aims “to make the perfect party, the sort of party I have fantasized about for my entire life. I had always daydreamed about a rich and opulent Halloween, one laced in abundance and surrounded by the city’s most fascinating. I know that The Flowering of the Strange Orchid will finally bring this fantasy to life.”
To keep the extravagance continuing beyond their dinner experience, Disco Dining Club is offering all ticket-holders an exclusive invite to the The Macallan Beverly Hills mansion event, taking place the first week of November. The Macallan Manor experience will transport audiences to four distinct worlds – a distant forest, Speyside, a Himalayan mountain tent, and a jazz speakeasy – in a sumptuous multi-sensory exploration paired with divine whisky tastings.