If you’re looking for the night of your life dressed in prohibition-era attire, drinking crafted cocktails whilst being entertained? Look no further.
The Speakeasy is an immersive play that brings the underground of the prohibition era to life in the heart – and underground – of San Francisco.
I’ve frequented The Speakeasy over the past two years and each time I have so much fun. The experience also changes with the creative team constantly adding new characters and storylines.
I personally think everyone needs to visit The Speakeasy when in San Francisco, if you don’t, you’re seriously missing out.
What is it?
I’d never been to an immersive play before and had no idea what it entailed.
Basically, the entire space – which includes a bar, casino, theater and hidden rooms – is a stage with roving performers with intricate and intertwined storylines.
As an audience member, you become apart of that narrative as a hooch-drinking citizen – and sometimes participant – not just a stagnant seated bystander.
Don’t worry! You won’t be asked to jump on a stage and be included in stories if that’s not your thing. The actors can tell who would wants to be involved and you feel very special if you’re a chosen one!
If an immersive play still doesn’t sound like your thing, imagine it’s a Great Gatsby party with a storyline going on around you. It’s not that daunting.
People can also pay to be a key character or be dressed to the nines with costumes for rent. You can find more information here. Below are some examples of costumes for rent.
On the day of the show, you’ll receive an email about who, what, where and when.
They’ll tell you the alleyway you need to find and the particular person you need to seek to gain access to the speak.
Our contact is always the man with the yellow hat, maybe it’s sorted alphabetically or we always get the same type of ticket, who knows!
Once you arrive underground at the speak, you’re instantly transported to a parallel universe of sequins, beads, booze, music, gambling and secrecy.
After the first act of the night, you’re free to explore and follow different storylines. We usually check out the bar and casino and try and to find hidden spaces such as the changing room.
Twice now I’ve been dragged into one of the immersive storylines which is always exciting!
My favourite was being invited into the boss’ office – a coveted area where you can only enter if invited – where he offered me some hard liqueur. I assumed it would be apple juice – no one offers up free booze! After a huge swig… I quickly realized it wasn’t apple juice.
What ticket should I buy?
Things are constantly changing at The Speakeasy with added packages and extras like their after party and date night tickets.
However, the main tickets you purchase are for the:
- Bar, and
I’ve always started at the Cabaret at the earliest session so we can sit at a table, order some hooch and enjoy the first part of the night. They also offer small bites like charcuterie and tea sandwiches if you get peckish.
No matter where you start, you’ll enjoy yourself!
I’ve also never reserved a table at the Cabaret for the whole night as there’s always spare seats. However, if you do go with a large group, it may be worth reserving a table as a home-base.
To snap-up some tickets, click here.
What to wear?
Half the fun of the Speakeasy is dressing in prohibition era clothing, raiding thrift stores for quirky bargains and experimenting with the styles of the 1920s.
Another part of the fun is trying to figure out who’s an actor – it’s hard to tell the actors from general punters, which makes it feel more authentic and mysterious. It also makes you feel truly apart of the immersion.
Below are the two clutches I’ve used before. The one on the left was $20 from an antique market in Monterey which fit my phone, lipstick, gloves and other lady utensils.
The one on the right was with the rhinestone peacock was stunning but only fit my iphone 6s and a lipstick. I got in on Amazon here for $22.
My dress was also a bargain from Amazon for $41, you can check it out here. It’s a snug fit so go up a size or if you prefer loose fitting flapper dresses try another brand.
I got so many compliments on this dress that I wore it twice to The Speakeasy and switched it up with a different jacket, clutch, gloves and heels.
If you’re willing to spend a little extra, I recommend a trip to Haight-Ashbury to raid the boutique vintage shops for authentic 1920s pieces.
Can I take photos?
The Speakeasy is just that, a speak. So no cameras and no phones – which I think is great! You can get some alleyway photos (see above) before you switch your phone off and seal it in a brown bag.
There’s also an opportunity to get photo’s inside with a moon backdrop. Below is a photo of my mum and I last time we went.
Where to eat beforehand?
The Speakeasy is located in North Beach, a hub for Italian and Chinese cuisine, alternative dive bars, cafes and boutique shopfronts.
The choice of Italian food in North Beach is abundant, and I don’t think you’ll go wrong wherever you eat. However! My favourite restaurant is Il Casaro Pizzeria – a classic mozzarella bar and only a street away from The Speakeasy.
You’ll always find people dressed to the nines here on the weekend ready for the play so you won’t stick out like a sore – yet well-dressed – thumb.
*Professional photographs from inside The Speakeasy were sourced from The Speakeasy Facebook page here. Camera’s aren’t allowed inside so these pics will give you a glimpse into The Speakeasy world.
Want to get in touch?
We’d love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in the contact form below and we’ll be in touch.