Don’t forget the kids

If you are organising a party or event and there are children present then here are a number of party entertainment ideas to ensure that if yours is a child-friendly day, that the kids are happy throughout the event to leave the adults to enjoy some adult time…

Petting Zoo
The best thing about hiring a petting zoo is that everybody can get involved and enjoy having animals at your wedding. Just like balloon modellers, this idea is perfect for guests both young and old. Children will be in their element as they pet the animals inside the enclosure and they may just be allowed to feed them as well!

Face Painting
A simple and traditional idea and one that always goes down brilliantly, face painting is a hugely popular affair at every event. Whether children would like to go for a tiger look or a butterfly, there are numerous options available to ensure that every single child is happy on your special day. With friendly face painters available all across London, we are confident you’ll be very happy with the results!

Balloon Modellers
There are a number of fun balloon modellers to hire that can entertain children in a variety of ways. Not just for children’s parties, these superb artists can make pretty much anything out of their very special balloons. Whether a child would like a dog or perhaps even a hat ‘made’ from Pineapple and other delights, our balloon modellers are more than up to the task. Unlike other children’s entertainment, you might just find your adult guests wanting to get involved as well!

Ventriloquism Museum

We head over to the USA to take in a curious museum that you certainly won’t see on the streets of London. Dubbed as ‘The World’s Only Museum Dedicated to Ventriloquism’, Vent Haven in Kentucky is certainly a place that you won’t forget in a hurry.

How does one start a museum of ventriloquism? The answer of course is that you have to have a passion for the art and that was the case with William Shakespeare Berger, a businessman from Cincinnati and amateur ventriloquist. Having amassed a vast collection of memorabilia and merchandise related to ventriloquism throughout his life, he eventually set upon the idea of opening a museum in the heart of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, just five miles from where he initially made his name.

Unfortunately for Shakespeare Berger, he died in the same year that Vent Haven opened – 1973 – but that hasn’t dampened the museum’s success with numerous photographs, posters and other merchandise being donated the premises over the last 45 years. Although these items undoubtedly improve the offering of Vent Haven, the real jewel in the crown is of course the 900+ retired ventriloquist dummies in their possession that have come from more than 20 countries around the world.

To a ventriloquist, Vent Haven is guaranteed to raise a smile but for those who find even one ventriloquist’s dummy a bit creepy, over 900 of them is sure to have them running for the door. Who knows upon which stages these dummies have been used? Or do you look at these specimens and only think of films like Annabelle, a horror movie about a family being terrorised by a vintage doll?

Whichever side on which you sit, one can’t deny that the museum is of great historical importance considering the various types of ventriloquist dummies on display. Although some wouldn’t be out of place on stage today, others are profoundly darker, harking back to a time when racism was commonplace and often ignored by the masses.

Ventriloquists will absolutely love a visit to Vent Haven and the best bit is that they even hold a convention each and every year, which is brilliantly stylised as the Vent Haven ConVENTion. Over 400 ventriloquists turn up to celebrate and we can only imagine the tales they must tell!

Scottish Rap

When it comes to facts or interesting stories, this is a great one. How do you get taken seriously as a rapper in the music industry? The answer for two young men from Scotland was to pretend to be two American rappers from the West Coast. A brazen move, the lie was soon out of control but it makes for a great story…

Gavin Bain and Billy Boyd had met at college in Dundee and loved rap. They wanted to be the next big thing in the industry but due to their accents were derided by executives as ‘The Rapping Proclaimers’. Despite the fact their demos were good enough to earn them record company meetings, within 20 seconds of performing their first track live they were laughed at because ‘real’ rappers did not come from Scotland.

Heartbroken but undeterred, Bain and Boyd decided to fix their image and have another go. Within just a few weeks they were now going as Silibil N’ Brains (Boyd and Bain), two obnoxious rappers from Huntington Beach in California, who had met over a rap battle contest in San Francisco. Playing up their invented personas, the two men became monstrous, obscene and egotistical, which the industry absolutely loved, seeing them a new version of The Beastie Boys or memorably describing them as ‘”Two Eminems”.

They were quickly signed up by Jonathan Shalit, the man who had discovered Charlotte Church. From there they were signed to a record deal with Sony who negotiated for them to appear on channels like MTV, got them attending the BRIT Awards and had them supporting Eminem’s rap super group D12 on tour. The only problem with the plan was that Bain and Boyd had to keep up their act almost 24/7, lying to fans, fellow musicians and all of the business people they came into contact with.

Silibil N’ Brains managed to keep going for three years, a few times almost coming unstuck in their lie, most notably being when they saw Proof and the rest of D12 for the first time. Having previously bragged that they were friends of the rapper, and with all eyes on them, they went straight in for a hug when they saw him, explaining how great it was to see him again. Suitably confused and not wanting to be rude, Proof went along with everything because hey, maybe he had met them before?

As with any lie, the longer it went on the harder it was for the duo to maintain their deception. They absolutely hated the characters they had created, even if some in the industry thought they were the next big thing, and the understandable stress of being someone you aren’t each and every day began to take its toll. Incredibly even Bain’s Texan girlfriend never suspected a thing.

When Sony’s merger and subsequent job losses left them strung out to dry – with their first single being delayed by six months – Boyd decided to call it a day and return to his wife in Scotland, where he was expecting a child. Bain continued for a little while but also finally called it a day, revealing the hoax. That wasn’t the last of the rappers however; they reunited for The Great Hip Hop Hoax, a documentary of their story in 2013, and released an EP to celebrate the film titled Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Romeo and Juliet

Yes, Shakespeare did write Romeo and Juliet. Of course he did! Most of us studied it at school and if you ever look at a list of Shakespeare plays, Romeo and Juliet is guaranteed to be listed under tragedies.

But fascinatingly he didn’t invent the characters. Many literary scholars cite Shakespeare as a bit of a plagiarist when it comes to his plays; allegedly it’s possible to work out what he was reading at the time he wrote each play with the only ‘true original’ being The Tempest! Even with this information, we didn’t know that he took the characters of Romeo and Juliet in quite so obvious a manner.

You see, some thirty plus years before William Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, a narrative poem titled The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet was written by Arthur Brooke. Like any historic piece of writing there are numerous theories on where Brooke got his idea with a few believing that he translated it from an Italian novella by Matteo Bandello and others thinking that he translated it from a French translation of Bandello’s work which features characters named Reomeo Titensus and Juliet Bibleotet.

Not much is known of Arthur Brooke – he died in a shipwreck just a year after publishing his most famous work – but it seems highly likely that William Shakespeare used The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet as his inspiration when writing Romeo and Juliet, primarily because the plot of the poem follows the play to the letter (minus the ending).

As Wikipedia states, ‘The poem’s ending differs significantly from Shakespeare’s play—the nurse is banished and the apothecary is hanged for their involvement in the deception, while Friar Lawrence leaves Verona to end his days in a hermitage.’

So if you ever sit there wondering to yourself why you can’t come up with stories as good as Shakespeare, simply pick up a book by Stephen King, J.K. Rowling or some other successful author and plagiarise it for the stage. We wish you the very best of luck. You never know, school children might learn it 500 years from now!

Wreck-It Ralph

If you are thinking of holding a Wreck-It Ralph party. Have no fear for we are here to help!

Circus Strongman
Perhaps the most obvious party entertainment booking for a Wreck-It Ralph theme is the booking of a strong man. Wreck-It Ralph is famed for his strength – in fact it’s essentially his one big character trait in the first film – so why not book a real life strongman for your event? From bending metal bars to breaking blocks, you are sure to be impressed!

Joypad
Another no brainer when it comes to booking acts for a Wreck-It Ralph party – he is a video game character after all – Joypad video game hire is all about booking retro games to play at your event. From the Atari 2600 to the SNES, Sega and beyond, we guarantee that guests will be constantly coming back for more. Why obsess over the latest technology when there is so much fun to be had with 8-bit and 16-bit games? Whisper it, you may even be able to book the 64-bit N64!

Mash Machine
If you want to combine technology with fun, the Mash Machine is a must. Essentially a music creation station, guests move pieces onto the machine to create their own tune. The best bit? You can use whatever you like to work with the machine and even download your music afterwards. Why not have the characters from the film moving about a top the machine!?

Sweet Caterers
Fans of the first film may remember that a big part of the movie is the video game Sugar Rush, which features an edible landscape for all to enjoy. Thankfully there are numerous acts that can provide edible treats and even though Willy Wonka doesn’t exist, this is the next best thing! Tasty air emanates from these magical edible mist orbs and there are also options for chocolate fountains, chocolate taps, popcorn in any flavour and much more!

Costumed Characters
Last but not least, it’s the most obvious Wreck-It Ralph booking of the lot; Costumed Characters. Whether you’d like to book Wreck-It Ralph, Fix-It Felix, Jr or Vanellope von Schweetz, it’s all possible. Why not go the extra mile with some more theme ideas including wall murals and more?
We hope this gives you some idea of what you can achieve with a Wreck-It Ralph themed party and we hope you enjoy the new film!

History of Clairvoyants

Records of people experiencing visions go back at least as far as The Bible, when Peter, James and John “saw” a kingdom of God coming to the earth.

The ability to see things with the mind was for many centuries given religious significance, chiefly as messages from God, although clairvoyance has never been solely a Christian phenomenon.

Ancient Hindu religious texts speak of a skill that can be accomplished through personal discipline and meditation.

Apart from the religious aspect, one of the most common reports of clairvoyance is of a loved one appearing just after they have died.

For centuries, clairvoyants learned to keep their experiences quiet for fear of being condemned as a witch and it was only towards the end of the 18th century that the phenomenon was explored scientifically.

The Marquis de Puysegur took inspiration from Franz Mesmer – who theorised that there were forces of energy called animal magnetism. He recorded the personality changes of a peasant he was treating, while he was in a trance, and was reportedly the first to use the term “clairvoyance”.

During the rise in popularity of spiritualists in the late 19th century, many psychics claimed to have the ability to see with the mind.

Early scientific attempts to test the ability, by the likes of chemist Williams Gregory, saw participants asked to identify a concealed image.

It was Duke university psychologist J.B. Rhine who introduced a more standard method of testing, as part of research into extrasensory perception in the early 1930s.

He used a system developed by Karl Zener, where people who claimed to have clairvoyant gifts were asked to identify which one of five cards depicting different symbols had been picked by the tester.

Rhine published a book, Extrasensory Perception, in 1934 detailing his research, which had included a study of Hubert Pearce. With five cards, a subject has a 20 per cent chance of success but Pearce’s average was 40 per cent.

More recently, the Stanford Research Institute coined the term remote viewing and carried out studies into whether people could identify and describe remote locations or targets.

The researchers, Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ, believed that Uri Geller had psychic abilities and Geller’s skills were showcased on many TV programs. In the past few decades, thousands of experiments have been carried out to test clairvoyance. One study in 1994 recorded a 32 per cent accurate response rate, compared to a chance rate of 25 per cent.

The U.S. government funded a project over more than 20 years to investigate whether clairvoyance could be used to acquire knowledge of enemy operations.

History of a Jester

Mention a court jester, and one pictures a whimsical creature in a belled hat or, perhaps, the ill-fated character in King Lear. Otto’s lively, well-researched text proves that there are centuries of other examples and that the jester has a rich tradition worldwide.

The jester is an elusive character. The European words used to denote him can now seem as nebulous as they are numerous, reflecting the mercurial man behind them: fool, buffoon, clown, jongleur, jogleor, joculator, sot, stultor, scurra, fou, fol, truhan, mimus, histrio, morio. He can be any of these, while the German word Narr is not so much a stem as the sturdy trunk of a tree efflorescent with fool vocabulary. The jester’s quicksilver qualities are equally difficult to pin down, but nevertheless not beyond definition.

The Chinese terms used for “jester” now seem vaguer than the European, most of them having a wider meaning of “actor” or “entertainer.” In Chinese there is no direct translation of the English “jester,” no single word that to the present-day Chinese conjures an image as vividly as “court jester,” fou du roi, or Hofnarr would to a Westerner.

An individual court jester in Europe could emerge from a wide range of backgrounds: an erudite but nonconformist university dropout, a monk thrown out of a priory for nun frolics, a jongleur with exceptional verbal or physical dexterity, or the apprentice of a village blacksmith whose fooling amused a passing nobleman.

Just as a modern-day television stand-up comedian might begin his career on the pub and club circuit, so a would-be jester could make it big time in court if he was lucky enough to be spotted. In addition, a poet, musician, or scholar could also become a court jester.

To Tap Dance

Traditional American Tap Dancers

Everyone loves a good tapper; somehow, tap dancing is enjoyable because it is lighthearted alongside the music to which it is performed. From community productions to the big screen, tap dance has captured the hearts of millions of Americans, and this is most evident in the fan base supporting the careers of several influential tappers.

Most are men, with a few exceptions. America’s tapping stars in the golden era of Hollywood enjoyed lengthy careers and continue to be noted today for the fun entertainment they provided. Below are just a few of those who truly reigned as “tap’s tops!”

Fred Astaire
Perhaps there is no other name as synonymous with tap dancing as Fred Astaire. With his countless American films, including those with sidekick Ginger Rogers, Fred revolutionized the tap world’s presence in movies. Many people recall his partnership with Ginger Rogers not only for the beautiful ballroom dances, but also for the tap dances, such as Let Yourself Go. His killer combination of a handsome face and a suave style, paired with his peppy dance numbers made him one of Hollywood’s most cherished musical stars.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson
Before he hung out with Shirley Temple both onscreen and off, Bill Robinson could be found in numerous theater productions. He is known for re-igniting the tap craze during the 20th century, and bringing the genre from popular to the elite art level. He often challenged competitors in tap competitions, almost always coming out as the victor. He was also the choreographer of the now infamous stair dance found in the movie The Little Colonel. He inspired and coached Shirley Temple, one of Hollywood’s littlest tap dancers, and she revealed in her autobiography how Bill was like an uncle to her, mentoring her both in dance and in life.

Sandman Sims
Another famous tapper from the golden era of Hollywood, he became notorious for his “sand dancing,” which involved tap dancing in a sandbox. He used to travel across the nation, challenging competitive tap dancers, and he rarely (if ever) lost a dance-off. He is regarded as one of the most creative and innovative tappers of his generation, and will always be known as a top tapper who never conformed to otherwise traditional rules of the dance.

The Living Statue

Put simply the history of the living statue – at least where it all began – is lost to time. Arguably the first living statue can be traced back to the ancient Greeks where members of the public would pose for famous sculptors looking to mould their marble. Realistically though, the living statue as we currently know it first appeared in the 19th century as a circus performance. PT Barnum displayed living statues as part of his circus tours, a peculiar curiosity to the minds of those in the 1840s.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, living statues became ever more widely known thanks to the emergence of the art form known as tableaux vivants; a group of actors would pose and be lit in a particular way so as to appear like paintings. The resulting performance was often shot on camera (which meant the performers had to stand still in their chosen pose) or performed on stage to the amazement of spectators. Cleverly, by tagging these performances as art, nude actors and actresses were able to perform erotic entertainment on stage, flouting theatre censorship laws. As long as the girls didn’t move, it was deemed okay by the masses. The most notable instance of this was under the stewardship of the famous Mrs. Henderson at the Windmill Theatre in London in the 1930s and 40s.

Since that time, living statues have featured prominently in both art and film – The Phantom of the Opera and Hot Fuzz are two recent films that have shown living statues on screen, whilst revered duo Gilbert & George utilised human statues as part of their gallery installations in the 1960s. Moving from inside to out, street performances too have flourished in the intervening years as various living statues appeared near famous landmarks all over Europe. Though varying in quality from person to person, they are a magnet for tourists, only moving when money is placed in front of their plinth.
If no money is thrown in front of the living statue, either because they are unimpressive as a statue or their costume doesn’t resonate with those walking by, the street performer doesn’t get paid that day.

With numbers still proliferating throughout London and the UK, it’s clear that the living statues are still well loved and make the perfect addition to your corporate event or private party. Despite their presence on the local high street, nobody will be expecting them in your back garden!

Scary films for your next Halloween

When it comes to Hallowe’en, you could theme a Halloween party in a generic manner with cobwebs, spiders, skeletons and pumpkins. But if you want to give your Hallowe’en party a horror film list, here are some very cool film and entertainment ideas to make it an evening nobody will ever forget.

Stephen King’s It

The beauty of hosting a Hallowe’en party themed around Stephen King’s It is that the whole event is incredibly simple. Book costumed characters to dress in yellow coats holding red balloons – ideally facing away from guests – and book a clown (naturally with horrific makeup) to stalk the event and scare guests. If you want to take the theme further, by all means have a paper crafts table where attendees can make paper boats, which can handily be pressed down and act as a name tag. Clever.

Saw

Though we frown upon the idea of forcing two groups of guests into doing tasks to save their limbs, you can still have some fun with a Saw theme. Keep the lights down low and have an unseen voice speaking to guests as they enter. Add a digital clock counting down to zero – what will happen next? – as a unique way to say that food is now being served and yes, Jigsaw can always be cycling around the venue on his tricycle. Feel free to theme the event with numerous tasks from the movie franchise as well.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

Another easy theme to set up – simply hang an ‘Elm Street’ sign in your event space to create the titular setting – the beauty of holding an A Nightmare on Elm Street Hallowe’en party is that Freddy Krueger haunts the teenagers in their dreams. When it comes to event themes, nothing is more broad than ‘dreams’ as an idea because it be anything you want. Book macabre dancers, circus acts, costumed characters– Anything at all! Just be sure to have Freddy interrupt each scene throughout the evening (or perhaps meander through the audience) to ensure that the scares keep coming!

Night of the Living Dead

Not every Hallowe’en party has to focus on the slasher genre! George A. Romero’s franchise about ‘living dead’ or zombies as we now call them is sure to impress when guests enter a venue to be greeted by a horde of the undead. We highly recommend booking a photo booth to capture the experience and numerous attendees can enjoy an evening of avoiding the zombie outbreak. Marvellous.

Halloween

John Carpenter’s Halloween franchise is perhaps the most famous of all horror movies. Not only did it give the world Michael Myers, a deranged masked killer who famous brings all manner of terrors to Jamie Lee Curtis’ main character, but it also spawned a number of sequel including the frankly mad Halloween III, a film that focuses on the idea of a song turning the public insane. We highly recommend not only booking a costumed Michael Myers to scare patrons but also playing ‘Happy happy Halloween’ on a loop to really send those in attendance insane.