FEAR – The London Dungeon Date

When a friend of mine first suggested I visit London Dungeon as part of my ‘FEAR’ experiment, I didn’t take him particularly seriously.  Why would you go on a date to the Dungeon?  It was just a tourist attraction, filled with foreigners and odd-smelling smoke.  How could that make for a good date?

But as I realised during the 30 Dates Challenge, sometimes the best dates can be at the least romantic of venues!  And often an unorthodox location can be the perfect ice-breaker to kick off a good date.

And so with that in mind, casting aside the fact I hate horror movies, and that crippling anticipated fear you get when you know someone is about to jump out on you, I headed to London yesterday, for a date in the Dungeon!

Those of you following the blog on Twitter @30Dates will know that recently I helped orchestrate a date between the blog’s very own Experimental Daters Dapper Gent and Blonde Ambition.  The all-day dating marathon (!) took place on Saturday, and will be written up by both of the EDs later this week.

However, keen to return the favour and play Cilla for me, Dapper arranged for his housemate, and fellow Army Captain, the Legal Eagle, to accompany me to the creepy exhibit.  The Eagle is a military lawyer, hence the choice of blog name.  And if I’m completely honest, the reason Dapper agreed to set us up, was because I saw his friend in a picture with The Dapper Gent taken on Remembrance Sunday and commented on how attractive he was!

We’re almost four weeks into November, and I’m genuinely surprised to have managed to get this far without the appearance of a dirty moustache on a date!  Well over-due a ‘Movember date’, the Eagle didn’t disappoint, turning up to meet me at Waterloo with an unsightly upper-lip, which became the butt of most of my jokes that afternoon.

After a brief introduction, we walked down the tourist-filled South Bank.  As we were ushered away from the crowded riverside, and into the dark, it was like stepping inside another world.  We filed through the turnstiles, the air thick with sour-smelling smoke, and made our way down a series of dark corridors decorated with tanks of rats.

An upbeat Tudor Londoner greeted us, thrusting his loins in our general direction and singling out the Eagle to ask whether he’d ever slept with a Queen! Finally he cranked open the Tower of London and we were led inside, to visit various horrors of London’s history.

Next it was into a log flume-like boat, to arrive at the home of the ‘Gong Farmer’ – who threw poo into the crowd, and once again picked on the Eagle, this time looking in his direction every time there was a fart noise!

As we were led through the smoke-filled tunnels, and various exhibits, we experienced the Plague, came face to face with Guy Fawkes, were terrorised by Jack the Ripper and stepped inside Sweeney Todd’s Barbershop.

The Dungeon is a creative mix of rides, acting, special effects, and interactive adventure.  I was singled out to carry a letter about the Gunpowder plot from one room to the next, only for our plans to be foiled, and me to end up behind bars while an actor demonstrated seventeeth century torture devices!

The humour on the tour was pretty x-rated!  At times we both wondered why children were allowed in the group, though hopefully some of the jokes went over their heads!  The actors thought on their feet, and remained in character at all times, drawing you into the tales they were telling you, and making you believe the world around you.

As we were frequently thrust into the dark, subject to threats of death in various different historic forms, it was impossible not to be at least a bit scared.  I’m not embarrassed to admit to being frightened, and happily clung onto the Eagle’s arm at several points during the tour.  Whenever the lights went out, I found myself cowering up against him, feeling slightly safer knowing he was within arm’s reach.

In that respect, it makes for an ideal date! As have most of the ‘Fear’ dates I’ve been on.  Being scared means you drop some of the normal social boundaries you might put up around a stranger.  And so weirdly, as a result of being afraid, you actually relax in each other’s company.

By the end of the tour I felt happy linking my arm though the Eagle’s as we walked through London, and assuming a physical closeness I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t spent an hour and a half cowering at his side!

The tour is very interactive, with constant distractions, and so it can be hard to keep conversation going,  In that respect, I think we made a mistake meeting just before we went in, as we were having to splice normal introductory conversation in between the actors’ monologues.

The humour of the tour was an additional ice-breaker, and we found ourselves mimicking the crass humour once we’d returned back to twenty-first century London.  When I inadvertently asked him if they ‘had good balls’ at his University, the pair of us laughed until our eyes were watering.

All in all the Dungeon was a really fun first date.  It was something different to do at the weekend, and is a side of London it’s easy to forget when all you do is work or live in the City.  Sometimes playing tourist on your own doorstep can make you feel like you’re on holiday, and the hour and a half of escapism was different and entertaining.

If you’re planning a blind date, I would definitely recommend meeting up over lunch beforehand, so you’re not trying to get to know one another through the darkness.  But the tour was a great ice-breaker, and provided several talking points, once we finally emerged back in the daylight.

So yet again, controlled ‘Fear’ on a date is a success, and made for a really enjoyable, memorable date.

As for the Legal Eagle … well he was a really enjoyable, memorable date too!  And yes, he did live up to that photo I first noticed him in (even with the awful Movember tache!)

Miss Twenty-Nine xxx

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