Charleston and Red Bull- It’s a Christmas party!

Ass grabbing, photocopying genitals, lampshade on heads, gravy- covered beer guts, flashing ties and illuminated reindeer earrings- those are well- known signs of Christmas as thousands of offices around the country get their Christmas parties into full swing.

I got invited to Red Bull’s staff Christmas bash in Shoreditch this weekend- only to find those treasured Christmas rituals to be out of fashion.

Slick doorman welcomes slick guest
Slick doorman welcomes slick guest. Photograph: Karoline Hjorth

Hidden in the epicentre of East London’s Hipstertown, Village Underground is far from paper- clothed buffets and Christmas carol karaoke bliss.

Popping out from their ping pong- tabled meeting rooms and playground built office spaces, staff from all over the country have come to celebrate another hard working year for the pushers of nonalcoholic caffeinated liquid.

Catwalk- strutting waiters welcome the 300 guests with their brightest colgate smiles, trays of finger food and cocktails that “give you wings“.

“Mince pie? Sorry darling, but have a canapé and get yourself a champbull“.

Hundreds of twenty- and thirty-somethings get their smiles fixed with Champagne and Red Bull cocktails as they enter the 1920s- style dancehall, designed to escape a gloomy economic horizon.

Drink up and dance

Just like any other Christmas party the inhouse entertainment have a clear party boosting strategy:

“We’ll give those dancing shoes a few rounds in the open bar…”

Just as the mind wanders off to images of  MDs revealing their inner moonwalk passion, Leila MacMillan’s dance ensemble pull us back to Red Bull reality:  “…and  then we’ll get the Charleston going”.

Ella Robson demonstrates how charleston is the new moon walk.
Ella Robson demonstrates how Charleston is the new moon walk. Photograph: Karoline Hjorth.

Ella Robson is one of the six dancers hired to get the crowd moving, and after hours of rehearsing it is too tempting to ask what keeps her going:

“No, I don’t drink Red Bull but I am on a constant diet of coffe, cigarettes, apples and vodka”, she explains.

Make- up artist Malika Causier paints her lips red and sends her out to tease the minglers.

Blondes, Madonna and the roaring twenties

The credit crunch might ravage the nation, but penny- pinching is not an issue when Red Bull goes festive.
Where other companies trust their loyal staff to book  tables at the local pub, Red Bull trust Blonde Productions to do their party planning.
Managing director Lora Lutostanska and her sister Alex are used to throwing parties and have organised events for Madonna, BBC and MTV.

“This is our second Red Bull event and the 1920s theme goes really well with some of Red Bull’s 2008 campaigns”, says Lora.

Karoline Hjorth.
Blonde Productions sisters Lora and Alex Lutostanska get a final touch from the make- up artist. Photograph: Karoline Hjorth.

“It’s been fun”, they confirm before sliding into the crowd.

Despite eager observation I could not spot a single air guitar performer nor hear “Last Christmas”  being played once during my five hours of eager observation.
A trustworthy source has it DJ Curly Perm, in love with himself and his impeccable cream suit, has been made redundant and replaced by wild-and-woolly 1920s jazz and The Correspondents.

On the hunt for fake mistletoes, snogging employees and general misbehavior, I end up at a table where the hip crowd is playing blackjack.

One of the women is sipping a yellow-colored drink, and the question  is unevitable: “Is it eggnog?”

A moment of innocent Christmas party spirit lights up the room until the sipping red lips reply: “Honey, it’s Bellini. Do you want some?”

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