ON A typically grey and dank Monday morning in London, we’re about to gatecrash a secret party hotspot. Behind an unassuming black door in Marylebone, away from the quaint tea shops and twee haberdashers, is the headquarters of London’s party scene.
This is where sibling entrepreneurs Anna and Andrzej Frankowska live and, on any one day, can be the scene of anything from cocktails you can inhale through a straw to giant, inflatable 12-person Twister. Where else to head for inspiration for the ultimate NYE party?
Outside, it’s an ordinary, 1970s semi-detached house, but then the door opens and the sound of Snoop Dogg comes wafting out. The corridor is decked in Chinese pictures that Anna, 26, bought in a market in the city of Xi’an in 2008. In the living room there are more balloons than a Richard Branson biography and flashing multi-coloured lights strung across the walls. One reveller walks in with a tray of drinks while another holds a giant inflatable monkey.
High-end canapés and nibbles cover every surface; bottles of spirits are passed around like water bottles at half time in Wembley.
‘You could say we have parties every day,’ Anna says cheerily. ‘It’s an open-door policy and we always invite lots of people. In my vocab, a real party is 100 or more; in October for my birthday there were about 150 people here. People were dancing on the table, on the window sill. Our neighbour came around at 3am to voice her displeasure about it, but then liked it so much when she came inside, that she ended up staying on and partying with us all.’
The five-bed house could take on some of the more bijou London clubs in terms of square meterage. There are glass walls separating the open-plan kitchen and living room, with a glass staircase that allows you to see from the fourth floor to the ground floor.
Everything is unashamedly contemporary and very much how most twentysomethings would deck out their house if they had the cash. Anna and Andrzej run the app partyhype.com from the property, which they rent and moved into in April.
‘Our parties are famous because they’re always on,’ Anna concludes. The app connects the entire nightlife ecosystem, she explains, helping people find the perfect party tailored to their tastes and doubles as a social platform to connect users with like-minded people.
For casual or impromptu parties, all the guests bring a little something to the table. But for the big, planned events, the siblings cover the costs and sometimes work with alcohol sponsors, such as Laurent Perrier and The Botanist. Greeting people is vital to a good party, Anna advises. ‘The host has the most important job; it’s vital to make sure everybody feels welcome as soon as they arrive, with a drink and by introducing them to at least one person. And make sure you never appear stressed — an anxious host leads to an awkward and stressed party.’
For this get-together, Anna has sourced some fabulous, illuminated chairs, Champagne buckets, stools and balls from My Furniture. The chairs have remote controls to change their colours and the mood. ‘They have a real wow factor, really setting the party tone,’ she says. ‘And I also got an amazing Monster SuperStar Ravebox, which has Bluetooth speakers so that guests can play at being DJ from their phones. It shines out nightclub-worthy lighting, with colours which change and pulse to the beat of the music.’
There are Gazillion Bubble machines around the flat, which create a constant stream of bubbles in each room. ‘This has a really magical and festive effect, which looks great in photos,’ says Anna. Lighting and fragrance are vital to any NYE shindig, she says, so she also filled each room with wintry Yankee Candles.
For New Year’s Eve, she will festoon the house with flamingo party lights, multicoloured and polka dot fairy lights, bunting, straws with moustaches, giant fruit decorations and spinning windmills, photo booth props, balloons, candle holders, cocktail garnishes and coasters.
‘I made sure my drinking vessels were photo-worthy and memorable, by ordering disco ball cups and multicoloured Champagne flutes.’
To see in 2016, Anna took the Party Hype team to Nassau in the Bahamas, where they celebrated on the sun-kissed beaches of Albany. The group explored the beautiful islands by day and then headed to the famous White Party for the big countdown.
‘We go crazy throughout the year, so New Year is no exception. We’ve done all sorts, such as buying ingenious machines that turn cocktails into a flavoured vapour, which people can inhale through special straws.’
But even if you have the best party in the world, the guests are the most important element, says Anna. ‘People make a party, so ensure you have the right mix, with individuals who each bring something to the occasion. You could have the world’s most beautiful venue, but if everybody is sitting around looking bored, it’s still a bad party.’
The house is a warren, each room having a different theme. There is even a TV in the bath, if you really want to get away from it all. And in case you’re wondering who does the cleaning up after, the duo have some lovely cleaners to take care of things.
By lunchtime, even the more lethargic revellers are getting into the Christmas spirit, even though a few of them were out last night and on their third consecutive party. ‘See, even unpopular Monday can be fun with a bunch of great people,’ says Anna, before closing the door.
ANNA’S NEW YEAR PARTY ESSENTIALS
■ Make sure you appeal to all the senses — it needs to look good, sound great, feel and taste memorable, for such a big occasion. People don’t remember canapés, wine or music… they remember how they felt.
■ Creating surprises in each room — Gazillion Bubble machines, fancy dress props, balloons, light-up furniture, party lighting and so on.
■ Set the tone of the evening with music, starting with upbeat, festive and ambient music at the start, not too loud, so that people can get to know each other. Then increase the volume, bass and party tunes as it approaches the big countdown and beyond.
■ Liven things up with some party games with silly prizes — this is a great way to break the ice, get your guests mingling and joking with each other and get the adrenaline pumping.
■ New Year’s Eve is the ultimate photo opp, so help your guests remember the occasion by providing fun fancy dress and props for them to mess about with.
■ Lighting is so, so important. Warm, cosy and atmospheric lighting makes everybody look better and thus feel more confident — candles, fairy lights and uplighters really set the mood. I am also a big fan of disco light projections around my home in the hours before the big countdown, to create a real, nightclub-style, New Year’s Eve party vibe.
■ Alcohol is also a key ingredient for a great party atmosphere. We always make sure we’re well stocked with Laurent Perrier Champagne, as well as good quality spirits — favourites are Woodman Reserve whisky, The Botanist and Portobello gin and Zubrowka bison grass vodka.