QEII Centre celebrates its 30th birthday with a retro party while looking to the future
What do Darth Vader, hair metal rock bands, break dancers and LED robots have in common? They were all part of the celebration at the QEII Centre’s 30th birthday bash which took guests back to the 80s when the centre first opened.
On arrival guests were welcomed into a magical dreamscape, complete with fluffy clouds, dry ice and the gregarious master of dreams to help them begin their journeys into the wonderful world of QEII. A choice of three welcome cocktails helped decide which of three doorways they would enter through, taking them back to the 80s through music, fashion or film.
In the music room a festival stage awaited, with guitars, leather jackets and massive 80s hairstyles for guests to transform themselves into rock god headliners. Guests taking the fashion pathway found glamourous floor length fur coats, oversized sunglasses and Champagne flutes for the Ab Fab vibe and in the film room a sinister Darth Vader was waiting for the Jedis in training passing through.
Entering the reception area on QEII’s fifth floor, guests stepped into retro heaven with neon décor, Rubik’s cube tables, DJ decks and posters of 80s icons pinned to the walls, with a soundtrack that brought back a mix of fond and cringeworthy memories for many of those old enough to remember the era.
More cocktails were served with canapés inspired by classic 80s dishes including mushroom vol au vents, beetroot macarons with goat’s cheese mousse and devilled quails’ eggs with tobiko. The party was interrupted by a troop of break-dancers bursting into the room and wowing guests with their moves, before everyone was ushered upstairs to see QEII’s recently refurbished 6th floor.
With stunning night time views looking out towards the Thames and the London city skyline illuminated, it was a real Instagram-worthy moment as guests paused at the top of the stairs to take it all in. The open-plan space which can be used for dinners, standing receptions or theatre-style was decked out in futuristic style with impressive rib cage style archways lining the room with projections including the menu for the evening’s dinner.
A welcome speech came in the form of QEII’s chief executive Mark Taylor projected onto giant illuminated domes at the front of the room, reminding guests of QEII’s history as a stage for game changers and innovators but also looking to the future, with a sign off of ‘bon appetit!” as dinner was served.
Designed by QEII Taste’s new head chef Jean Michel Viala, the three-course meal was a real showcase of the creative banqueting menus available at QEII. Guests enjoyed a goat’s cheese panna cotta to start, fillet beef with oxtail ravioli, potatoes dauphinoise, cep puree, confit shallots and port jus and a show-stopping Black Forest Gateau with a twist – a chocolate dome with chocolate sauce to pour on top and reveal the delicious dessert waiting underneath.
Dinner ended on a high, as the break-dancers re-emerged with a final show of real strength and agility, before a confetti cannon erupted to mark the evening’s celebrations. The party didn’t end there however, with more 80s tunes downstairs and liqueurs, whisky and cognac digestifs to see the evening out.
In his projected speech, chief executive of the QEII Centre Mark Taylor said: “Since 1986 we’ve been at the heart of the events industry, helping brands hatch big ideas. Over the years our venue has been graced by world leaders and countless famous faces, providing a stage for game-changing and innovative ideas as well as pioneering research. Tonight’s not just about celebrating our past, it’s also about inviting you to share our vision for the future, a future that’s set to see us continuing to evolve and push the boundaries to lead the event sector. Our recently refurbished 6th floor is part of our visionary approach and continued investment to open new horizons for event planners and offer greater flexibility for events and I hope that tonight’s event will help you all see what can be achieved.”