Party People

Words by: Sophie Tweedale

Charlie Astor and George Whitefield of Sharky & George are masters of the jaw-dropping party and royal favourites. They give us the inside track on planning the perfect bash.

What makes a mind-blowing street party and, err, how do we do it?

  • Clear the cars from your street the day before, so that everyone can lark around in the closed-off empty street on the morning during set-up.
  • A great committee of not too many people, six max, who are all really up for it and organised!
  • Bunting! You cannot have enough. Put it up along the length of the street and only do the bits across the street once the end of the road is closed off – lorries and bunting do not mix well.
  • Find amazing local independent food and drink suppliers to set up stands and dish out their wares.
  • Ice-cream van. Enough said.
  • A live band. We like the amazing World Heart Beat, which is a fantastic local academy for young musicians producing spectacular jazz.
  • Opt for a suggested donation on entry of £2/£3 per child/adult. This way, things like face-painting, inflatables, balloon-modelling, arts and crafts, and aerial acrobatics can be included – you can even make some money for charity as well.
  • Tables and chairs for everyone.
  • Lots of Sharky & George games.

Ok, so you’re both experts, right?

For the past three years, I [George] have organised the Cicada Road Street Party in SW18 with a committee of amazing neighbours. Last year, we had 850 people at it and it was awesome!

Before moving to a London terraced house, I lived with my wife on a houseboat, under Battersea Power Station, which is a very sociable lifestyle. Suddenly we were living within feet of our neighbours without even knowing their names. I thought that the solution would be to organise a whopper street party that was open to all, with lots of fun and games for children. Highlights have been water fights, a massive tug-of-war, Brompton bicycle slow races in fancy dress, an inflatable helter skelter, Flying Fantastic aerial acrobatics, science experiments and a giant inflatable assault course. We raise money for Duchenne UK and Little Village. This year, we’re having it on Saturday 8th September, and cannot wait for the best yet. This is an annual event with the whole community getting involved.

Bestow upon us your three golden party-planner tips?

  1. Organise twice as many activities as you think you’ll need. You never want one game to be drawn out for too long – you need to keep the energy and fun levels high.
  2. Whether inside or out, pick a location that has plenty of room for energetic activities. We love outside parks or hotels with multiple rooms to keep the organised chaotic fun flowing.
  3. Party bags are always popular; never overlook them! We would recommend not getting lots of small plastic things that won’t last until the children get home, but get one really cool thing that will last a long time.

The guaranteed party starter?

It’s a close one between Sharky’s Footsteps and Fishy Fishy Fishy! Sharky’s Footsteps is our fun take on Grandmother’s Footsteps and Fishy, Fishy, Fishy is an adapted Sharky & George twist on British Bulldogs! The best one for all the family is a tug-of-war, though. The children do the first rounds and if it goes to one-all, the parents take part in the final. It always gets very competitive and you see the inner child emerging from the adults!

Your all-time super-fave party?

Putting on a mega party for 850 children on the Buckingham Palace lawn. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry were honouring the memory of Armed Forces men and women by hosting a Buckingham Palace party for their children. Highlights were playing Sharky’s Footsteps with over 1,000 children and their parents, and then firing water bombs with Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge into the crowd from the steps of the palace.

The best food to keep them partying?

On some of our survival parties we do campfire cooking with all the children getting fully stuck in. No burger tastes better than when you have made it yourself and cooked it on a fire you have built, normally flavoured with a bit of local mud! Pudding is then baked banana with marshmallows and chocolate, and topped with squirty cream. Yum! We don’t tend to have time to collect rainwater, like Bear Grylls, so Ribena normally has to suffice. Other blackcurrant drinks are available, but never quite as good as the original.

The music that never fails?

Happy by Pharrell Williams is always a winner.

What’s hot on the event horizon?

Unicorns and slime are massive themes at the moment, not normally combined, though! We did a party recently where we built two unicorn suits out of balloons, which was pretty much the best thing I have ever seen.

We’re totally flagging by 3pm, how on earth do we keep going?

Get a good night’s sleep before and channel your inner child.

Finally, are Sharky & George booked for a certain party somewhere in Windsor this month?

And, of course, we have to say “no comment”!