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The High Life

You are now free to conga around the cabin

Author Hannah Stuart-Leach Illustration Luci Gutiérrez


LONDON – “Why, welcome ma’am!” says a beaming flight attendant with a silky American accent, her navy hat perched atop a neat platinum bun. In a figure-hugging dress with big white buttons, she attracts appreciative glances from men waiting in line.

Past the check-in desk, in an alluring club lounge, passengers knock back sangria and mojitos served by a dashing bartender. This, everyone agrees, is the way to go—except no one is actually going anywhere.

The setting is a repurposed crypt in London’s West End, one of the venues for Mile High, a supper club that evokes pop-up theater more than fold-out table trays. The club amounts to a riff on the golden age of air travel, but the plush surroundings suggest a flight of the imagination rather than reality. And that’s before you get to the food.

Mile High’s menus are tailored toward a number of revolving destinations: char-grilled elk for Gothenburg, roast lamb for Beirut, pasta alla Norma for Sicily, and so on. Recently, the event popped up on New York’s Lower East Side, with London as the destination (braised pork cheeks). Tonight, the four-course meal will feature dishes like hake a la plancha with chorizo aioli.

Destination: Andalusia.

As the evening wears on, the illusion of flight gradually gives way to what co-organizer Anna Templeton euphemistically calls “an old-school night out.” A pilot with designer stubble leads a conga line around the tables. An Irish woman theatrically requests potatoes with her jamón Ibérico. Another woman attempts to flamenco-dance on her chair.

The high spirits, says Templeton, are due to the fact that guests are being served up “a bit of the unexpected,” though the constant flow of bubbly probably plays a part. “Hey! We’re going to Ibiza!” sing the conga-dancing passengers, even though they are not.

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