Below is our review of JFI Productions’ Night Fever. If you have not yet attended, we recommend you do not read the Close Encounters section, which details characters and narrative threads. The other sections may discuss structure, details, but do not contain major spoilers. We also provide recommendations at the conclusion to help you make the best of your time at Night Fever.
Click, clack, clack. The sound of tap shoes click against a wooden board, echoing off the narrow alleyway walls. The busker’s white shirt reads New York City in a bold black font. The man notices me and motions at the bustling club hidden between two skyscrapers. They won’t let me in because I got in a fight last time. His accent is thick Italian. But if you see my girlfriend in there, tell her Nicky’s waiting for her. I don’t even get a chance to respond because a girl interlocks her arm with mine and together we walk down the alley toward the club. Hey baby, what you lookin’ for tonight? She smiles as she pulls out a pen and writes her number on my hand. Call me, if you want to have some fun later.
Thursday Night Fever
Night Fever is the latest immersive experience from JFI Productions that invites guests into a 1970s nightclub for an evening of excess. For the first time, JFI steps away from the darker aesthetic and themes that permeated The Willows and the CreepLA series to reveal that they can excel in any immersive genre, not just horror. From 9pm to 2am across four nights, Night Fever takes the sandbox stylizing of Haus of Creep and transforms it with a disco flair. Whether you spend the night dancing under the disco ball, nestled in a back booth with a drink, or interacting with the numerous inhabitants of Night Fever, there is truly an enjoyable avenue for every participant.
As the 1970s were a decade under the influence, Night Fever capitalizes on excess, desire, and love in everything from characters to decor. Everyone is generous with their time, their money, and even their drugs. Numerous characters shove fistfuls of ridiculously real-looking twenty-dollar bills into guests’ hands, encouraging them to find Z, who has the best drugs in the club. Two beautiful call girls drape their arms and affection on anyone close by. Shirtless bus boys dance around to the cheers of onlookers, while elaborately choreographed dance numbers spill across multiple rooms. Everything is big, beautiful, and loud by design. This theme of excess is perfectly representative of the time, and provides a strong structure for the experience to build off of.
A Night at The Queensbury
Housed within The Queensbury, it’s surprising just how much activity can be contained within the two-main-room club. Guests have free reign to explore everything from the start: including a full dance floor, a lounge with a bar, a dressing room for the dancers, the two-stall bathroom, and of course, the alleyway where you started the night. The small size ensures that everything feels intimate, close, and bustling with energy. It also means that the FOMO of seeing other guests get pulled into secret spaces that you are excluded from does not exist here; every character and locale is approachable and accessible. Moreover, the dance floor attracts most of the guests, so if you’re not a dancer, you shouldn’t have a hard time finding a dark corner to sit and watch, despite the crowds – and if you are a dancer, it’s the best nightclub I’ve ever been to!
While the energy and club vibe provides numerous positives, there are some negatives that do come with it. The music can oscillate from a normal level to an excessively loud boom, making it nearly impossible at times to hear characters right next to you. This was not much of an issue early in the night, but became increasingly difficult as the party shifted its focus from immersive offerings to a debaucherous dance party. Also, as every space is used in the experience, the action can often find itself filling the bathroom, with call girls fixing their makeup, drugs taking their toll on characters, or lovers seeking out a bit of privacy. This offers wonderfully intimate moments for those who find themselves in there with the actors – and it also offers a roadblock to those actually needing to use the two-stall restroom that exists for both genders.
Despite these small complaints, no matter which room you are in, it is expertly decorated to fit the times. Vintage advertisements line the walls, showcasing Passport Scotch and Pepe Lopez Tequila, classically branded cigarette ads, and evocative imagery of legendary ’70s porn actress Seka. There’s no detail overlooked here, and those with a keen eye will notice even the cigarettes smoked are vintage. The dance floor is lined with over thirty disco balls above, reflecting colored light in such beauty that enhances the dream-like feel of the evening. Finally to note, I loved the choice that when a cell phone is pulled out, the actors simply ignore it or see it as a vintage camera, rather than look at it, marveling at a strange technology from a time that does not belong to them. No matter the technology, we are all in 1977.
Close Encounters of the JFI Kind
While other immersive parties focus more on telling an overarching, cohesive narrative involving all participants, this experience takes a different approach: Each character lives in this world naturally, organically, but there’s no mystery to solve or quest to undergo. The overall goal, instead, is that everyone has come to The Queensbury for a different reason, but everyone is there to enjoy themselves. So whether you are talking to an actor or an audience member (they often look similar), everyone has a story to tell, and an interesting one at that.
There is no deficit of characters to interact with either. With over twenty unique characters, there are always numerous actors in any given room and you never have to look far to find one. Further, with every character each having a distinct and important story, there are no main characters, removing any queues or lines that may have formed to get interaction with them. This is another design choice that only adds to the natural and organic feel of the evening. It’s impossible to see any one story to completion (and not recommended); as you roam the club, interact with those who cross your path. As the night progresses, relationships and connections are formed, and characters begin to feel like friends. I even had a secret handshake with Hunter that we practiced throughout the night until we had it down.
A Character Study (Minor Narrative Spoilers)
The pinnacle of any JFI production is the talented actors – and Night Fever is no exception. I spent the most time helping with the love story between Lyla Stallone, an up-and-coming starlet played by Kylee Thurman, and Hunter Collins, a model new to L.A., played by Jacob Miller. As I made friends with both, I was able to introduce the two and witness the spark of their relationship. While their rollercoaster of a relationship hit the highest of highs and lowest of lows throughout the evening, I was seemingly always there to witness Lyla throwing a drink in Hunter’s face for dancing with another girl, the two getting hot and heavy on the dance floor, and Lyla’s bad drug trip in the bathroom. Their intense and natural chemistry made this relationship an absolute pleasure to play a part in.
But even if you don’t involve yourself in the personal relationships of characters, you’ll still experience numerous unique and memorable moments. I was pulled outside to witness the shy reporter, Pam Brown (Liesel Hanson), interviewing club owner, Douglas Aaron Dougie (Daniel Montgomery). He speaks boldly of dreams coming true, of love, and of drugs – as he shoves money into my hand and sends me to Z. I find Z (Matthew Maguire) in a private booth as he offers me everything from quaaludes to poppers. Yet, as the conversation turns more introspective, I see a more intellectual side to the party kid, as we discuss the repercussions of our life of excess. It’s a small moment of respite from the constant barrage of stimulus – until the cheers catch my attention. Disco Mary (the unparalleled Melinda Dekay), a retired prosecutor, has started dancing, stealing the attention of all in the room. Sarah Russo (Stephanie Turek), Resh (Reshma Gajjar), and Candy (Candice Fox) all lend their youthfully fluid movements as backup for Mary, and the room erupts in cheers and hollers.
Other standouts include Bill Bingham as Harvey Gubelmann, who transforms throughout the night from a modest accountant to his cross-dressing true-self; Misha Reeves as Janet Jones, the artistic director who doesn’t seem to get as much credit as Dougie; Nicky Romaniello (played by the actor of the same name) who busks to buy his girlfriend, Sarah, something nice – but make sure you don’t give Sarah too much attention because Nicky sure is jealous and is more comfortable with a fist than his words; and the two call girls: Angel (Aly Trasher) and Crystal (Hope Lauren), who are as equally beautiful as they are tawdry, blatant in their mission to show you a good time. Finally, a special mention to all the bus boys: Mikey (Michael Fariss), Brock (Josh Madson), and whoever was lucky enough to get the job for the night – your shirtless dedication to oil was impressive.
If character interaction is not your thing and you’ve come for the dancing; well, JFI has a special treat for you. Stephanie Turek has choreographed ensemble dance numbers featuring Candice Fox, Reshma Gajjar and Stevie Teran. These numbers are given their time to shine; much in the way other actors use their voice, these actors use their bodies to do the talking. And they showcase what they want better than any word could. It’s provocative, it’s artful, and it’s just sexy.
If you plan on going and you are an immersive fan, make sure you purchase the early admission. The extra hour (9pm instead of 10pm) offers a necessary opportunity to form connections with the actors/actresses that become much more difficult as the crowds and noise level increase throughout the night. Second, get there before 9pm (8:30 is fine) because the busker, the call girls, the doorman, the reporter waiting in line – they’re all characters and some of the best interactions of the night. I loved waiting in line, engaging with the patrons, and watching the insanely detailed costumes of every guest walking up. If you’re just there to dance, the 10pm admission is perfectly fine.
If you’re trying to decide what to wear and this review didn’t scream it yet: Go big, go bold, and go beautiful! Wigs, costumes, and makeup are encouraged. Numerous patrons had afro wigs, bell bottoms, and yellow and brown jumpsuits; and they looked fantastic. This elevates the experience in two main ways: First, it further immerses everyone in the experience; and second, it provides a wonderful guessing game of who is an actor and who is a participant – forcing active guests to talk to everyone. But even if you don’t have an outfit, dress up, and JFI will take it from there: The minute I walked into the club, I was pulled into the small dressing room and adorned in glitter across both cheeks, which only boosted my confidence as the night continued. This is not a party to be shy in – but even if you think you might be, the infectious energy will break you out of your shell quickly if you let it.
Night Fever proves that JFI Productions are experts at crafting memorable worlds filled with evocative characters and stories that extend far beyond their horror roots. They distilled a decade into a fabulous party, capturing the love, the drugs, and the disco fever – and invited you as a guest. Whether you want to spend the night making connections with other party goers or dancing under a disco ball, it’s an opulent, over-the-top exercise in debauchery. So take it from a wallflower who doesn’t like to dance: If JFI was able to get me on the dance floor, then I bet you’ll have an absolute blast.