Sleepover meets School Disco: what to expect at a Girl Gang event
Lining the route with pink balloons, Girl Gang Manchester transformed the Lowry’s loading bay studio space into an inclusive and welcoming room full of frivolity. This “sleepover meets school disco” style event encouraged a surprisingly diverse group of attendees to leave their scruples and inhibitions at the door.
If you fancy heading to a Girl Gang event but aren’t sure what to expect, here’s a rundown of all the action from where I was sat last Saturday night.
I was flying solo on the night of Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, but setting up camp at one of the craft tables, I quickly felt right at home. Embracing the homemade fashion that the film’s heroines celebrate, I was taken back to my Brownie Camp glory days as I painstakingly crafted some accessories. After all, what sort of 90s night would it be without pompoms and scrunchies?!
On the adjacent table, pairs of pals cemented their friendships with beaded bracelets. A resulting lack of vowel beads only encouraged the creation of new nicknames for the creative bunch. This event was very much a handmade affair: from sets and costumes to individual goodie bags (with inventive, film-relevant gifts) to make everyone feel special, even on a budget.
Elsewhere in the room, braver souls than I took on the Spin Class Challenge, whilst others marked their attendance in the oversized collaborative yearbook. It was clear that a lot of creativity had gone into the event, with replica sets handcrafted and arranged for revellers to snap pictures of and get into character. If at first I was a little lost with all the choice, I was soon ushered into action by the enormously welcoming atmosphere. Mingling was a must as everyone got stuck in to some wholesome activities.
Amidst all of this, attendees were rallied towards the external workshops at regular intervals. These workshops had limited capacity and were pre-booked by those partygoers who knew what they wanted to get out of the event. Forums on self-esteem, confidence and friendship complemented practical workshops on inventive ideas and, of course, dance.
Girls (and guys!) of all ages returned to the main room oozing positivity about their sessions, ready to drop in on the less formally defined activities. If you prefer to keep occupied, rather than milling and mingling around an indoor fete, book ahead for some of the workshops at the next event. This carefully arranged programme of events-within-the-event seemed to exemplify the Girl Gang ethos and activism.
Back in the main room and punctuating the free-flowing chitchat were a group of brave women, strutting around performing skits from the movie. After the occasional moment of “I’m not quite sure how to respond” audience interaction, these ladies had their spotlight moments sandwiching the film screening. Essentially a well-orchestrated quote-off, the audience were rallied into the spirit of silliness ahead of the opening credits.
The highlight of these caricatured performances? As the “cinema” transformed into a dance floor, the same brave performers cleared their stage for an impeccable rendition of Romy and Michele’s grandest dance routine. They inspired all those who stuck around to let loose and flail freely to an iconic, female playlist.
I confess, I was a Romy and Michele virgin at the beginning of the evening (as were several others who similarly didn't consider it a pre-requisite for attendance). Yet, after watching the film, and getting swept up in the cheering and laughter that supported the screening, I could truly appreciate all of the attention to detail that surrounded me. An enigmatic giant carrot balloon sculpture suddenly made so much more sense: it was a bright orange, inflatable testament to Girl Gang’s thoroughness when preparing the myriad of niche references that brought the room alive.
This interactive and creative event offered a Saturday night out where school-day silliness took precedent and a trip to the bar was an after thought. Having been warmly embraced into the fold, I’m already keen to reunite with some new flamboyant friends who are regulars, travelling from afar for the unique, non-judgemental atmosphere at Girl Gang events.
Title image: the event poster.