After months thinking about it I finally managed to drag myself out of bed early enough this morning to get to the Barbican and see the Rain Room installation.
The Rain Room, created by Random International who specialise in interactive installations, lets you “experience what it’s like to control the rain” and it’s been a phenomenally popular. I first heard very excitable things about it from someone who managed to get along to it just after it first opened and I have been meaning to get to it ever since, having attempted on a couple of occasions after work to no avail and being put off by the legendary tales of 6 plus hour queues.
I arrived at 9am, a full two hours before the Rain Room even opens and find, disappointingly, that I am around 50th in the queue. I am sitting between two girls in their twenties, (one British and one from the US) on the one side and what sounds like two young Russian girls on the other. The queue was a surprisingly noisy place, with loud chatter, heavy footsteps and the occasional baby crying. I’ve got to hand it to the parents of small children who brave a five-hour queue with very little to stop the boredom setting in! By 9.30 there are about another 100 people behind me and not much after 11 the queue has already passed the five-hour waiting time point. Evidently I got there at the right time.
I then spent what seemed like an eternity blogging, people watching, reading and shuffling about uncomfortably as my bum started to get numb (the guy with the foresight to bring a folding chair was receiving envious looks from all around). Oh and discretely listening in to the British/American girls in front of me talk about their dating tales, the woes of meeting ‘really cute guys’ while having a boyfriend, when the right time is to have a baby and where they wanted to go with their careers. I have to say this gossip kept me going when I was getting really bored. Then finally, after four hours, I was at the front of the queue.
So was the Rain Room worth the queue? Definitely so, I’d say.
The first thing that hits you is the noise, it’s very loud like being caught in a torrential downpour of blockbuster movie proportions. And it’s dark, although there is a solitary light in the room that shines like a distant sun but it’s light is powerful and blinding; yet the room remains dark.
The rain itself comes down heavily and as you start to walk towards it stops. You move left and the rain moves, you right and it does the same; it does actually feel like you are controlling it. There was something quite peaceful and calming about being out in a heavy downpour without getting wet and trusting that the rain would stop when you walked towards it.
You are told to walk slowly around the installation, although this didn’t stop an adorable little girl from running around in amazement while her Dad was chasing after her. Neither of them had much more than the odd drop on them. It was a really sweet site to see.
I left, after around 15 mins inside, feel strangely cleansed, pleased that I had queued and a little bit smug when I walked back past the rows of people shuffling uncomfortably as their bottoms started to become numb from sitting for hours.
The Rain Room finishes on Sunday 3rd March – if you have the chance go and see it! Or maybe you’ve already been? If so, let me know what you thought of it?