The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:
“Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn”
As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.
Le Cirque des Rêves – The Circus of Dreams.
Now the circus is open.
Now you may enter.
A few months ago, Bookplate Book Group, and then Appetite Book Club, in Colchester, chose to read The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. It’s not a perfect book – both groups commented that we could tell it was a debut, and Morgenstern herself has spoken about the lengthy, even tortuous process of editing and revision that occurred – but both groups were totally captivated by the world that Erin created.
The novel deals with a magicians’ duel on an epic scale, playing out over a lifetime, and the weaving together of two young lives and hearts as part of this life-and-death contest. The Circus itself is an intoxicating mix of smells, tastes, wondrous visions and experiences, all in a palette of monochrome with the faintest splashes of red. It appears as it by magic and gradually people become devotees, wearing black and white themselves to attend the Circus, with a token of red – a scarf, a flower – to indicate they are Reveurs, members of an unspoken society, recognisable only to themselves.
And so it was at Tea & Sympathy on Friday 26th April, a shop and venue in Colchester, run by Jo Coldwell and Melissa Porter. Jo also runs Appetite Book Club, so had read and loved The Night Circus and it became the inspiration for their latest bar night. The dress code was monochrome, with a token of red for only those who had read the book. The evening was a fantastic success with the venue packed with reveurs eager to enjoy the night, and exciting happenings throughout the building – fire play and burlesque in the garden, tarot, and a magician in the attic, not to mention wandering performers too, a great DJ and Night Circus themed jam jar cocktails.
Rob and I had a brilliant time, as did everyone else we spoke to. It made us think – what other book-themed events have you been to? What book-themed parties would you want to see in the future? Maybe, if you’re lucky, the Night Circus will visit your town too…