GOING BACK TO THE FUTURE
Note: this page used to be a blog post but due to its mega size (i.e. detailed and long), I’ve made it a page in its own right.
This post is dedicated to – and would be nothing without – the friendships, advice and kindness of the Positive People of Hill Valley – you know who you are!! ♥
On the 15th, 29th and 31st August, I went back in time. But thanks to Secret Cinema, I didn’t need a Delorean. I was originally meant to go on opening night on the 25th July, but due to cancellations we had to reschedule. It caused a lot of heartache but what Secret Cinema created was so astounding that, in my eyes, all was forever forgiven and forgotten! Secret Cinema transformed part of the Olympic park into 1955 Hill Valley to absolute minute detail, including shops, cafes, high school, residential areas plus 80 actors completely in character to transport you into another era. To help you even more to get in to the past, we could register for a Hill Valley ID. I was Lola Davis, sale assistant at Hal’s Bike store. More of that later…
I went to Hill Valley three times and LOTS of things happened, so I will mix up the events of each visit in this write up to be able to try to achieve some kind of order. We went armed with our bags full of disposable cameras and Polaroid film as mobile phones were not allowed into Hill Valley, obviously, as they were not invented in 1955.
As a vintage queen, I had no problem pulling together 3 x 1950s outfits. Most of my vintage clothing is from 1960s, but I do have a few 1950s dresses as the shapes are always very flattering. The first time I went to Hill Valley was the perfect opportunity to wear a 50s dress that I have had for years but never worn. I believe it was a couple of Euros from a flea market. On occasion 2 and 3 it was also quite easy for me to whizz something up from my hoards of vintage clothes and find something suitable. The only thing I need to borrow from a friend was the petticoat.
On the first and second times, we had our hair done. Luckily I have a salon a few doors down from my flat so we popped in on a whim and they managed to fit us in. Having beautiful hair completely helped to transform ourselves in to the roles.
And so the story begins…
Arrival into 1955 Hill Valley starts in Peabody’s Ranch, just as Marty’s journey did in the movie. On my first visit, I interacted straight away with a farm worker who asked us which our favourite sheep was and then informed us it would be ready for our hamburger in 10 minutes. This funny moment was the trigger to how fun the evening was going to be. We skipped interaction at the ranch on the next two visits as we weren’t Peabody workers and we had much more to do and see. On the 31st, which was last night of the event, I couldn’t resist having this photo taken on the bales of hay.
Through the farm you enter Sycamore Drive where 5 mini, one room houses are kitted out with vintage decorations and furniture. I was completely at home. There was a Tannen, McFly and Baines residences all with small details in each from the movie. One house was having a yard sale where I bought my Hill Valley rosette. We then enter a house where an actress asked in her american accent if she could help us. Cue my first improvisation (and bad accent) informing her I was from an interiors magazine in London, England and we would like to do a feature on her beautiful home. She happily agreed so I took a few polaroids of us posing in the house.
At the end of the street was Doc Brown’s house which we didn’t go in until later on in the story. After passing the residential area, Hill Valley town square is there, right in front of you. The main feature being the Clock Tower on which the film was later projected. It took my breath away. Suddenly you were right there in the movie!
Upon entering the town square, you immediately past Texaco garage where all the workers were very handsome and charming! We didn’t interact with them the first time other than taking the photo of Tracy with a gas pump as we had too much to take in and see. But the second time we made sure we got a lovely photo with 2 of them. I was cuddled up to ‘Slick Willy’ who I couldn’t resist giving a copy of my ID card to with ‘wanna park?’ written on the back. This was Tracy’s genius idea on the bus on the way there so we messily scribbled funny flirty messages on the back of our cards. He looked very smug and asked me to the dance. Which proved to be an unbroken promise on my third visit, but I’ll get to that!
We went to put our blanket down on the grass to save a spot to watch the movie later in the centre of the square. Thanks to my educated sources I knew that front left was the best spot to see the action. And it was. I loved the way the grass looked like a patchwork. On the second visit we had our photo taken but the Town sign with the amazing, beautiful and positive people Meral and Havva. It’s one of my favourite photos of my 3 visits.
On my first visit, I wanted to head straight to Hal’s Bike Shop to meet my boss and do some interaction. I had been asked to bring a bike bell and was intrigued to what it was for. I arrived and went straight up to Hal (who was a super cute character, all shy and unconfident). I apologised for being 2 week’s late for my shift, but I had bought my bike bell as requested. He seemed very happy and took it inside. When he returned he gave me a small bunch of flowers to say thanks. That was it. I was smitten!
Hal then proceeded to ask if I knew the bike shop’s moto. I didn’t but I replied, “Sure, it’s Hal’s Bike Shop is something something”. Hall said “Yes that’s right Lola! It’s Hal’s Bike Shop is the best!” He then tried to get me on a bike to ride around the square calling out the moto but I couldn’t get on the bike with my petticoats so I just posed for a pic instead. I apologised to Hal and asked to take a pic of us with my magic camera. He was in awe and stroked the polaroid with his mouth and eyes wide open. What a sweetie! When I returned to Hal’s later on in the evening, he asked me and another employee to help him learn how to ride a bike, which culminated in us pushing Hal to the fairground rides and him falling off, much to the surprise of the unsuspected people trying to hook a duck.
Later on the the evening we sat in the Realtor and chatted to him about buying a property in Lyon Estates. He was asking us all sorts of personal questions to check our suitability and when I mentioned where I worked he rummages in his desk, pulled out a letter and asked me to give it to Hal.
I handed the letter to Hal saying, “Hal, I have bad news”. He was not happy and got very stressed. I told him I would the realtor where to stick his letter. I didn’t and kept the letter as a souvenir.
I saw Hal again on my second visit. He didn’t remember me at first but then he said “Ah Lola! You’ve changed your clothes! Hill Valley residents only have one outfit”. Hilarious. That man spoke the truth. On the third visit he remembered me by name which made my day.
Being Enchanted Under The Sea /The Rhythmic Ceremonial Ritual
On the first visit we happened to have popped to Hill Valley High School for a nosey around just as Marvin Berry and the Starlighters had started their performance. The School hall was decked out just like the real Fish Under The Sea Dance, sorry, I mean Enchantment Under The Sea Dance. :O)
We had our professional prom photos taken and then went to dance and I discovered that dancing in a full petticoat is such a great feeling. Dancers/actors mingled with the dancing to heighten the experience, including a group dance routine which people joined in with. There was a very geeky guy, who introduced himself as Stevie who shyly shuffled up to Tracy and nervously asked her to dance. It was pretty hilarious! Completely in character he chatted away to her whilst they had a painful slow dance with arms stretched – until another actor pushed them together. I think somewhere in the conversation there was talk of ‘going to park’. Tracy had a new crush! Later in the school corridors we wrote a poem about Stevie to pin up in our locker. We tried to take a photo of it as I am sure it was very funny, but it didn’t come out unfortunately. So, alas, their love remains in the school hallways forever.
Later on in the evening, after the movie finished, we found two guys who offered to clumsily twirl and dipped us on the dance floor for a last dance like real gentlemen. Tracy caught this moment in a Polaroid which captures the air full of petticoat!
On my third visit, I found myself back at the dance. I happened to be right on the edge of the dance floor just as the group dance routine started and a dancer forced me into it (not unwillingly). It was amazing. It felt like I was in a teenage movie when everyone starts dancing in the gym and everyone automatically knows the steps – they were easy steps so quick to pick up. The fast song finished and Marvin Berry and the Starlighters started playing Earth Angel and I found myself on the dance floor without anyone to dance with and surrounded but paired up couples. Then just like in the movies, I spotted Slick Willy from Texaco, also on his own. So I plucked up the courage to go over and ask him to dance. He said yes! We chatted and danced and at the end he twirled and dipped me only like a professional dancer could. It was swell!
Doc Brown’s Experiment
On our second visit, we happened to come across Dr. Emmett Brown in the town square on our walkabouts and we got involved in one of his live experiments. He wanted to see if he could conduct electricity by people rubbing up and down against each other – yes, really! So a group of us got in a circle and started to rub up and down against our neighbours’ shoulders. There was a lot of laughing. After a minute or so, Doc exclaimed that we had created 1.21 Watts of power! He did actually make it start raining during the experiment coincidentally enough, but it only drizzled for a minute, luckily.
At the Fairground
The Secret Future Room
On my first visit we quickly past by the electronics store and I took a quick snap as I loved the vintage radios and televisions. Little did we know that lurking next door was a hidden room. My sources had informed me that you needed to ask Doc for a password, so after our experiment, Tracy whispered to him asking for the password. It was ‘Great Scott!’. When we head back to the store, there is an amazingly dorky, geeky guy sat at the side reading a comic book (form Roy’s Comics, obviously). He is insistent that there’s nothing so see there and we’d better speak to Doc (in the most brilliant geeky lisped voice ever). We inform him that we already have, whisper to him the password and we’re in! What we find is a small room full of 1980’s electronics. The geek follows us in and starts to demonstrate the future technology, well tries to. “This is one of Doc’s latest experiments. It’s called a kay-set player”. We visit the room again on the third visit and pose with the amazing futurist gadgets!
Attention In Class, Slacker!
As we were not chosen to be Student as our Hill Valley IDs, we didn’t spend too much time in the classrooms of the school. I would have liked to as the actor playing Strickland was rather lovely :O) But we posed for a pic and watched a class in progress. This teacher was asking why science was important. I have heard that in one class, people had to demonstrate giving birth to themselves – I tell no lies. I Wish I had seen that!
An Unhappy Resident
This poor lady was a resident who I believe ran the neighbourhood watch group. We found her wandering around the square looking very sad. I stopped her to ask her is she was ok and she told us she had taken part in the local talent contest and she’s been booed off the stage. We tried to console her by telling her they were just jealous of her singing voice. I actually heard her singing at Lou’s diner on my second visit in an improv with her, Lou and George (before the guy ran in wearing the life preserver…) and she was pretty awful!
Here’s some various shots of us posing around Hill Valley. They don’t fit into any story, but I like them!
Thanks to the educated sources who I mentioned earlier, the next part of the Hill Valley adventure was watching and being part of some of the key scenes in the movies. We knew exactly where to be and where at the right time and it was one of the best parts of the whole experience.
It all kick starts, like in the movie with Mr. Sandman being played over the sound system in Hill Valley. Marty walks confused and lost through the square and heads to Lou’s diner where we were waited in prime position. We had asked one of the guys behind the bar which seat was George Mcfly’s usual spot as the first time we didn’t know which end of the bar the action happened. He told us that George doesn’t come in the cafe any more after Biff told him not to. Hmm, sneaky! So I then asked him which used to be George’s favourite spot to which I got directed to the other side of the long counter.
When George arrived he chatted to Lou and another resident and then Marty ran in and asked if he could use the phone, cueing Lou to ask if he’d jumped ship. Whilst Marty was calling Doc, we chatted to George for a while and a friend asked George what he used his binoculars for. We very much doubted it was for birdwatching!
When Marty returned, the rest of the scene unfolded line for line, mannerism for mannerism which was incredible.
“Are you gonna order something, kid?”
“Yeah, gimme a Tab”
“Tab? I can’t give you a tab unless you order something”
“Right, gimme a Pepsi free”
“You wanna a Pepsi, pall, you’re gonna pay for it”
Even when Biff and his gang enter we really felt like were diners in the cafe witnessing a mean bully and a very troubled looking guy in a life preserver. What was incredible is that some people were oblivious to what was going on (until Biff arrived at least) so it felt totally real watching this whilst people around us ordered burgers and shakes.
“Uh, well, okay Biff, uh, I’ll finish that on up tonight and I’ll bring it over first thing”
The next part of the story unravelled, like in the move, at Lorraine’s house. We had been tipped off (thanks to our sources) that Lorraine would be home and we should befriend her which would come in very useful in later scenes. And it was. We arrived with Meral and Havva at the Baines house and sure enough, Lorraine was sat on her bed so we went in and started chatting like teenage girls do! She wanted us to help her write a love letter to Mr. Anderson, the Physical Ed teacher at the school. Some guy started babbling on about Facebook which she looked very confused about and then quickly scribbled it out. So we then helped her properly and this is what we came up with. The ‘I like the way you blow your whistle’ part was my idea to which Lorraine looked at me and said, “I do like the way he blows his whistle. Have you been reading my diary?”. Brilliant! We really felt like her BFFs!
Then we start to talk about first aid as she is part of of a first aid group and she asks us silly questions like what we we do if a bird flew into someone’s head. But we were interrupted by the commotion outside which of course was Marty being hit by her Dad’s car. She yelled, “quick first aider, come quickly” and we ran outside to where Marty was being carried onto the lawn (a bit of artistic license by Secret Cinema as her house was one room). This scene was one of the best performed. The breathless talking by Lorraine and the shock of Marty of seeing his young mother was exactly like the movie. I was captured in the scene by a fellow attendee and you can see how concerned I looked for the unconscious Marty in the photo below – getting into character as a first aider :O) But we all knew, deep down why we were there, front row to help Lorraine: to get a good glimpse of Marty’s purple Calvin Kleins. We weren’d disappointed! Lorraine whipped open Marty’s button fly like a pro, and I should know, I worked for Levi’s for 11 years!
After Marty ran off calling the whole crowd ‘Peeping Toms’ we headed over to Doc’s house for the next scene, but not before we got to interact a bit more with the amazing Doc. When we arrived, he was gathering a crowd and wanted to test his knew mind reading machine. Meral kindly offered (insisted) to be a test subject :O) Doc asked her first if she was thinking about something sexual to which I called out “Kamran” (it’s a long story but those in the know will get it). He then tried to guess her name which was hilarious as he’d failed to spot that she was clearly wearing her ID card. Then he asked if she was thinking of something brown… and cold. Was she thinking of chocolate ice cream? To which Meral replied “I am now!” Priceless!
When Marty arrived for the ‘future boy’ scene Doc switched immediately into scene mode and they reenacted the scene too a T, with some interaction with the crowd. Doc asking “Do you know what this means?” etc and then all making us all swear that we wouldn’t tell anyone about it.
Doc: “Raise your right hand”
Us – raised our hands.
Us in unison: “I…”
Doc: “Say your name”
Us: “Say your name”
Even on the second time this happened I giggled a lot!!
On the last day of the event, the scene was particularly funny and you could see the actors were relaxed and playing a bit and having a laugh. It was awesome to see.
After this scene, Doc takes Marty to Ruth’s Frock Shop for some appropriate clothing, but as the pursuing crowds got quite big, we headed to the school where we knew the next scene was taking place – Marty convincing George to ask Lorraine to the dance. When we arrived, Lorraine and her friends were already there. On the 3rd visit I took this photo with the lovely girls telling them it was for the year book. Whilst we waited for the boys to show, we played a bit with Mr. Anderson who had appeared. One of Lorraine’s friends told him that she had seen a wasp fly under his shirt so we all went a long with it all knowing that Mr Anderson, who isn’t the sharped tool in the box, would eventually take his shirt off. Now, I know that this kind of behaviour is absolutely not very me in real life and normally I tut at Diet Coke ads targeted for women which use hot guys, but it was 1955 so it was acceptable to objectify someone with a great bod at this precise moment in time! :0)
Not long after Mr. Anderson had run off (when we told him the wasp had flown in his trousers!) Marty, George and Doc arrived. Again a scene played out beautifully with all the emotion from the movie: Marty all frustrated and anxious, George all shy and nervous and Lorraine all hot for Calvin!
“There’s somebody I’d like you to meet”
After this scene we went back to the Lou’s diner which acted as the school cafeteria scene where Marty picks a fight with Biff but is interrupted by Strickland.
“You heard her, she said get your meathooks… off… er… please…”
We then headed inside to see the ‘Density’ scene and luckily we found Lorraine and pals sat in a booth which they invited us to sit in with them – amazing!! We really were BFFs! We sat and chatted in character about boys we liked and Meral tried to tell Loraine how nice George was and that she should give him a chance. Cue George coming over, notebook in hand, and doing the word for word, gorgeous, awkward and beautiful density scene right there in front of us! SWOON!!!
“My density has brought me to you.
I’m your density, I mean your destiny”
Then follows Biff’s entrance a bit of a shuffle and the famous chase scene which happened around the town square with the theme music blaring out over the speaker and thanks to a talented stunt double! It was a goosebumps moment!
After the big chase scene, things quieten down a bit before the Town Parade, and on our second visit we decided that this would be a good opportunity for a bathroom break as we’d seen the parade passing on our first visit. But… as we were on our way, Lorraine spotted us and insisted we join her in the parade to represent the first aiders! I literally had just said, “we don’t need to see the boring parade, we’ve seen it already” and seconds later I was running to follow Lorraine so I could be part of it! This moment shows how truly fickle and / or carried away I was! I believe that the poor girl sat with Lorraine is called ‘squid girl’ and she was an actress who I only saw looking miserable and dressed as a squid for the parade.
The Group Shots
Straight after the parade, Secret Cinema took a group shot of the audience and on times 1 & 2 we ensured were right at the front.
The Bit from Part 2
I don’t remember when abouts on the second visit this happened, but we were following Biff to try to get a photo with him and we ran into the scene from Back To The Future Part 2 outside Ruth’s Frock Shop. Lorraine was tough and hit him with her dress (which unfortunately was in a cheap plastic bag for some reason and not a box as in the movie)
“Biff, why don’t you take a long walk off a short pier?”
After the scene we managed to accost Biff for a photo. “You’re eager – I bet you go to third base”. Amazing! Check out my cheeky tongue which couldn’t stay in my mouth for the photo :O) I also managed to ‘grab’ him again on my third visit after the parade. I told him to bend down for the pic as he was soooo tall and he said “little and large”. I finally got my hands around this tough guy!
Meeting The Main Man
I met Marty the first time in the 80’s room where he told us his girlfriend Jennifer might be jealous of us. We also met him on visit 3 during the movie. We had insider info that he’d be waiting in the school corridor during the dance scene in the movie whilst he waited for his next cue for some live action. I told him “Good luck Marty, I mean Calvin”. “Why are you calling me Calvin?”. “It’s written on your underwear”. To which he called me a peeping Tina :O)
After the parade we all took our places for the screening. It was magical watching the movie on the big screen with 3000 people all cheering, booing and laughing together. The live action scenes which happened along with the movie were incredible, especially the Delorean scenes. My second favourite was George whacking Biff. I whooped and cheered as loud as I could! What a hero! But my ultimate favourite was (stunt) Doc sliding down the wire from the top of the clock tower literally right over our heads as I whooped “Go Doc, go!!”.
The Libyan and the sweet chat
On my third visit I decided to have a wonder during the start of the movie to see what I could see happening. (I actually went looking for the special guest, but I’ll come to that later…). I didn’t find the guest, but I did find Marty in Lyon Estate practicing some skateboard moves between scenes. We chatted for a short while (Kamran Darabi-Ford who played Marty is super sweet). I took what I thought would be an awesome snuggled up selfie, but alas, this photo did not come out at all, but I have the memory always! I did get the other 2 pics so can’t complain :O) On my way back to my seat, I saw the Libyan’s VW van getting prepped, so thought it would be really funny to have a photo taken with the stunt driver. I think I must be the only person of the 80,000 attendees to do this as he was so excited that I’d asked. you can see his joy in the photo!
The Surprise Special Guest!
Before the screening of the movie every night, Marvin Berry and the Starlighters played a few classic songs including ‘Johnny b Goode’. Just before the movie started on my third, and the event’s last night, I saw Biff’s car driving past me in the corner of my eye and I knew instantly who was sat in the back. It was non other than one of my musical heroes – Mr. Jarvis Cocker! Without even blinking, I literally ran to the very front of the clock tower steps as I was not missing out on a Jarvis performance. He was just incredible! I was dancing and singing away on my own and when I looked around me I realised that all the secondary cast were there too. I was right in the middle of them. I think most of the attendees stayed on their blankets, but I didn’t think twice about moving closer. It was a magical moment dancing and enjoying Jarvis with cast who were obviously relaxed and happy and celebrating on the last night.
I saw 3D from Biff’s gang in the crowd having fun and I took this selfie which is one of my favourite photos of the whole event and pretty much sums up how happy I felt to be there. So it’s with this photo that I end my post.
… To Be Continued