A “social club” may conjure images of scout meetings or netball teams or bunches of older men sitting outside a cafe playing cards. It could also mean attending the ballet with group of people you’ve never met and being entertained by a statuesque drag queen.

It’s safe to say that The Australian Ballet has something offbeat planned for its upcoming production of Sylvia. This makes sense: Sylvia is a bold retelling of the classic ballet, weaving together the love stories of three female superheriones that buck traditional gender roles.

The Sylvia Social Club is designed to be a different kind of theatre experience. Punters meet before the performance for pre-show entertainment, hosted by internationally renowned drag queen Philmah Bocks, and then again at the intervals for food, drinks and the kind of tomfoolery you don’t ordinarily associate with ballet.

“It'll be a really lovely, easy, soft welcoming into the evening,” Bocks says.

Talking to her, it’s clear Philmah Bocks is enthusiastic about the Social Club. She’ll be meeting and greeting patrons, and making sure everyone has drinks and canapes in hand. The club members get their own private bar, so can skip the long interval queues. There will also be a welcome address to set the mood.

Creating the opportunity for everyone to make new friends is a key part of the club. “As we get further through the night, people have got a little more in common and more things to talk about,” she says.

Guests can also get involved in pop quizzes, with prizes to reward anyone who can prove they’ve been paying attention to specific details in the show.

Bocks says there’s no boundaries or restrictions on who the Social Club Night is for. “It's for everybody,” she says. “For lovers of the ballet, for lovers of drag. For people who are seeking a unique experience and would enjoy fabulous performances.”

You can bring your grandparents, your kids and your pals who pride themselves on being Greek mythology geeks. Bocks promises “it’ll be a G-rated show”.

“There's this aspect of group bonding because we're all in this same experience together,” Bocks says. “I think it's a really lovely way to meet new people.”

Starts at 6.15pm.

Tickets are strictly limited. More information here.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with The Australian Ballet.

Sylvia Social Club
Arts Centre Melbourne
Wednesday 4 September 2019