Review: Première of the Starlite Urban Drive-In

Roller-Skating Waitresses - (c) Mary Rhiannon Pryce

As I trundled up Brick Lane on a beautifully warm July evening, taking in the scent of curry from all angles and smiling politely at invitations from various dashing-looking Indian gentlemen inviting me in for dinner, I was still finding it hard to envisage exactly what an “urban drive-in” would look like. When I thought drive-in, I couldn’t help but think of undulating Hollywood hills with a space full of battered old cars housing snogging teenagers. Very difficult (nay, impossible) to imagine in East London.

I eventually found my way into the exclusive VIP party at The Brickhouse and I was bowled over by what I saw. After helping Starlite founder Damian Barr with Silent Cinema back in 2008, I knew that he put on a damn good party – always full of glamour, always special – but this time he utterly surpassed himself.

Damian Barr - (c) Mary Rhiannon Price

On arrival, I gave my name to a very smiley lass at the door (phew, on the list) then walked past an enormous flashing neon drive-in sign and up the red carpet to be confronted with row upon row of shiny, beautiful, brand-new Volvos with tops down and doors flung open, full of glamorous people drinking cocktails. Waitresses in costume and on roller skates glided around with trays of Hendrick’s gin-based cocktails and retro canapés, including mini hot-dogs, espresso cups of sweetcorn chowder, mini prawn cocktails (which were divine) and spoonfuls of macaroni cheese. I just couldn’t stop staring at everything like a kid in a (very high-end) toy shop – it was like stepping into a world that’s normally reserved for the movies.

The Original Urban Drive-In - (c) Mary Rhiannon Pryce

50s-style entertainment was provided by toe-tapping leggy lovelies The Tootsie Rollers and Pippa the Ripper,  the most phenomenal hula-hooping act I’ve ever seen in my life. Then, it was time for jiving with some rock ‘n’ roll choons before the drive-in entertainment began.

The fabulous Tootsie Rollers - (c) Mary Rhiannon Pryce

After a fair few cocktails (and a fair amount of wishful thinking) I decided I could totally see myself cruising along Brighton seafront in this, the ice-white Volvo C70. Clearly the lady sat next to me could see the lust in my eyes and said: “They are discounted by about 20% tonight you know?” Somehow, I didn’t think my credit limit would stretch quite that far… so a cab back to Victoria station it was.

Fabulous photos all courtesy of Mary Rhiannon Pryce.