- Warner Bros. transformed London’s Steel Yard Night Club into a Harley Quinn-themed roller disco for a few days earlier this week in the lead-up to the new “Birds of Prey” movie.
- Despite not being a big DC fan, I spent almost three hours at the launch of the colourful pop-up, which featured two cocktail bars, makeovers, and plenty of cosplay.
- I left understanding why fans I’d spoken to called it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
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A Harley Quinn-themed roller disco recently took place in London, and despite not being a hardcore DC fan, I decided to go along.
In the lead-up to the release of “Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emanicpation of One Harley Quinn)” on February 7, Warner Bros. organised the free immersive experience and asked superhero fans to get their skates on for an animated and neon-lit ride through Gotham – or in this case, the historic The Steel Yard nightclub in the City of London.
I’m not overly familiar with the anti-hero herself (other than Margot Robbie’s portrayal), but as cosplayer Hannah Jones told me on the launch night: “It’s sort of like the day in the life of Harley, getting to do the skates and dress up and eat candy all that.”
And after spending a few hours living inside her crazy and colourful world, even I felt my inner Harley come out.
I left understanding why fans I’d spoken to called it a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
As soon as I stepped inside The Steel Yard, I felt as if I’d fallen down the rabbit hole and landed myself inside a piece of Andy Warhol art. It was colour-pop crazy — but in the best way possible.
If I had any doubts as to where I was, however, movie posters and memorabilia made it immediately obvious that this wasn’t just any rainbow-filled room.
There were quotes scattered across the event space, hinting that we’d entered the world of Harley Quinn. One DC fan I spoke to said it looked “all on brand.”
While I’d been expecting the roller rink to be the main event, the cocktail bar was a crucial part of the evening.
There were actually two bars — clearly Harley must like a drink or two.
The iridescent cocktails — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — included a ruby red “Jäger Cocktail” and the sparkling hammer-filled “Harley Quinn.” They were dangerously good, but super sweet.
Like any Instagrammable event or destination, there were plenty of photo opportunities at the pop-up. Cosplayer Hannah Jones told me she’d “just been going up against every wall” taking pictures.
These were just a few of the of spots influencers, fans, and those indifferent and awkward (like me) took obligatory snaps.
Swept up in the photo moments, it took me a while to realise there was a full Glam Station.
It had everything you’d ever need to transform into the femme fatale that is Harley Quinn.
The makeup wasn’t being done by your typical artist, either — the pop-up had professionals on hand from cult brand Urban Decay.
Harley fan Kitty Cowell, who told me she loved her makeup, said it was “the kind of brand Harley Quinn would go for. They’re alternative, bold, in your face, so I think it’s quite authentic.”
Anyone could get glitter eyes, lips, cheeks, and even a shimmery beard. There were even some temporary tattoos.
As I was already wearing a little makeup from earlier, my makeup artist suggested I make my lipstick pop even more with the help of a little fairy dust. I also requested a glittery cheek to complement my outfit.
After I got all dolled up, I wandered over to the “Tote Bag Station” to complete the look.
My “Birds of Prey” tote bag was created for me in a very retro way.
After disguising myself as a DC fan and indulging in a couple of coaxing cocktails, I finally got my skates on for the main event. Thankfully, that little bit of liquor gave this first-time skater just enough dutch courage to actually take to the rink — or at least take a photo and pretend.
Unlike the horrid dull roller blades I was used to as a child, the skates I was given were super cute, pink, and sparkly — which made the experience all the more pleasurable.
When I thought it couldn’t get anymore retro and luminous, it did. Waddling my way through to the back where roller skating space was, I finally hit peak 1970s disco vibes.
Bright neon lighting and funky tunes from the movie helped set the mood and atmosphere. DC fan Kristy Everly told me “the chance to actually roller skate like Harley Quinn does in the film for the roller derby scene was awesome.”
Plenty of people were falling over left, right, and centre as the loud music and harsh lighting provided an extra distraction for skaters.
Luckily, professional roller skaters like Ceejay Jepson were there to lend an extra wheel. Jepson said while a few had fallen, he was happy that everyone was giving it a good go and enjoying themselves for the sake of Harley Quinn.
After watching the skaters and getting all the necessary technique advice from Jepson and his colleague Ishariah Johnson, it was my finally my time to skate and shine. And according to them, I surprisingly wasn’t too shabby. Jepson told me the trick is to slowly skate with your knees bent and your arms stretched out until you find your rhythm.
Once skaters had gotten a little more confident and mastered the basics, the pros taught them a few tricks of the trade. I did not join in.
Since nothing really happens unless you upload the evidence online, attendees were encouraged to strike a pose at the end of this aesthetically-pleasing light installation.
Reaching the end, we were told to have a little wiggle for a professionally shot “Boomerang” which was sent to us afterwards, though a bunch of skaters just crashed into the machine.
Of course, the one and only time I fell was during my photo-op. Trying to look like Jessica Simpson in her “Public Affair” roller disco music video is actually a lot harder than it looks.
Slightly shaken and a little traumatized, I exited the roller rink and headed upstairs for a little pick-me-up.
Guests could get their sugar high at this “Sweets Station” where we helped ourselves to an array of delicious candy options. I took two full bags home.
I could imagine Harley feasting on cotton candy following her break-up with the Joker.
For something a little more substantial post-skate, Papa John’s pizza was also on hand.
After my stomach had settled, I decided to test my strength on the “Birds of Prey” high-striker. I ended up scoring just under 70 out of 100 — a meager result. But staff assured me only a handful of people had reached the top gong.
Before I knew it, I’d spent almost three hours at the event — not only as a non-DC fan, but also a solo attendee. I finally understood all the hype and excitement around immersive experiences.
Cosplayers Hannah Jones and Kristy Everly told me they both drove three hours both ways to get to the Harley Quinn pop-up. And despite the distance, they each said they’d come back again before it ended. They even called it a “better Comic-Con.” “It has more movie-specific things to do, which gets you more pumped for the films,” Jones said.
As Hannah said to me just before we skated away: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity really, you’d just be dumb not to come.” And having lived like Harley for the evening, I couldn’t agree more.
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