'SweatiEST. 2003': The Official Debrief

4th October

A Gymbox party is never boring and this 2000s-themed celebration of the company's 20th year wasn’t set to disappoint. Sure, the noughties had its fair share of questionable fashion moments, but there were plenty of great ones to re-visit for the night. Me and my partner in crime opted for Coyote Ugly inspired-outfits while the rest of our friends wore looks inspired by Britney and The Matrix. Whatever the night had in store, we looked the part.

After rocking up at 93 Feet East along London’s iconic Brick Lane, we located a bar and got our bearings. The venue was a great choice for the night: the entrance and large outdoor space had two bars and plenty of space to mingle, while the two indoor rooms had ample room to dance. After grabbing a drink, we quickly located the first dance floor.

A projection of iconic 00s music videos played on one wall, directly behind a vertical pole littered with balloons in the Gymbox colours. The DJ played early 00s hits as the crowd began to slowly fill up the room and I watched as many brave men attempted to dance on the pole.

Thankfully, a professional dancer soon entered the room to save the guys their embarrassment. Wearing a tight lycra leotard that was surely glued into place, the night’s first beautiful dancer made her pole debut. The packed room swarmed around her taking videos with most of the women (myself included) screaming in support of her skill.

I know that pole dancing takes a tremendous amount of strength and I’m always impressed by women who can make it look so easy and graceful. This performer was no exception, and she did it all while wearing heels that were at least 6 inches tall. Respect.

Having contorted and danced around the pole, she finished her performance to a huge round of applause. Soon though, everyone’s attention was on the blonde, sequin-clad burlesque dancer who had just sashayed into the room.

Wearing a dazzling, glittery two piece (complete with nipple tassels), the dancer blessed us with a classy strip tease that definitely got some pulses racing. I spent the whole time wondering what deal I would have to make with the devil so that I could achieve that level of confidence. After a final shake of her tassels and feather boa, she exited the room just as quickly as she’d arrived, no doubt leaving some open mouths in her wake.

Throughout the night, the burlesque and pole dancers provided us with more eye-catching entertainment and I loved seeing them display their skills. They showed enviable confidence and an ability to move in heels that I simply don’t possess. I would love to see some men involved next time! If the cast of Kinky Boots are anything to go by, I know there are plenty of guys around who can also strut their stuff in heels.

As well as the dancers, there were plenty of other surprises in store. My first one came when I almost walked into a lycra-clad Mexican wrestler, leading his entourage through the crowds outside. Just a normal party occurrence! Later on, I watched this same group of wrestlers bunny hop over mini-trampolines, comically avoiding crashing into party-goers tables. We all cheered as each member of the troupe successfully made it over to the other side without injury.

In classic Gymbox style, there were ways to make yourself the entertainment too. A boxer arcade machine set up outside challenged people to give it their strongest punch. Unsurprisingly, this ended up getting very competitive, with people queuing up for a go all night. I enjoyed watching the crowds cheering each other on as they tried to out-do each other, their swings becoming wilder as the party went on.

After a brief break from dancing outside, my friends and I headed back into the first dance room. We spent most of the night here as DJ Marshall continued to play banger after banger. My favourite moment was watching the whole room erupt when ‘Simon Says’ by Pharoahe Munch came on, and the section of back-to-back hip hop hits which followed. The atmosphere was electric and everyone seemed to be having a great time.

While I didn’t spend much time in the second room (I found it hard to leave behind the R&B and hip hop classics), I know they were treated to a performance from a live band as well as DJs. Every time I popped my head in, it was as packed as the rest of the venue. Gymbox certainly knows how to pull out all the stops.

As all of us who go to Gymbox know, the people who work and train there are the club’s greatest asset. I was happy to see some lovely instructors that I knew as well as strangers that I didn’t. Everyone was super friendly and I had a lot of great conversations which genuinely made my night.

While these parties always have great entertainment and music, the conversations I had with other attendees proved that something we gain most from these events is having the space to chat and make friends with other members. For people like me who don’t often socialise in the gym (because we’re too busy, too focussed or too shy) these events can be a great chance for us to speak to other gym-goers in a more relaxed environment and maybe even gain a future spotting buddy.

Around 1am I decided it was time to go home and rest my poor feet - it turns out dancing in 5 inch platform boots for hours can leave you in a lot of pain, who knew?! Inspired by the incredibly fit party crowd, I attempted pull ups on the Spitalfields Market elephant sculpture before giving up and mainlining towards a McDonalds. It was nice to see I wasn’t the only person in a 00s outfit queueing for my order.

If we’re honest, the 00s were an odd time. I think many of us who were there know it was fun to be a part of but, much like dating an ex, not something to repeat. With that in mind, Gymbox actually managed to do something incredibly clever. They didn’t take us back to the 00s, but brought us forward to something better; a great party with the soundtrack of the 00s, the positivity of the 90s, and the alcohol intake of the 80s.

Here’s to another 20 years of working hard and playing harder. See you next year!

You can follow our blogger Kat here.

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