Writhing, Thriving, Jiving, Er, Drive-in
Posted on Sunday July 4, 2010, 16:22 by Kat Brown in Empire States
Ever since John Travola introduced “stranded” and “branded” into my vocabulary after unsuccessfully trying to grope Olivia Newton-John, I’ve wanted to go to a drive-in cinema.Unfortunately, I grew up in the picturesque, deeply dull, countryside where there are plentiful places that could hold a drive-in cinema, but as I didn’t pass my driving test until I’d left home, my mum would have had to drive me there. This is not conducive to romantic trips, or hi-jinks of any kind.
Drive-in cinemas haven’t featured much in Britain over the years, which, given the tenuous state of our car seats (un-sofa like, buckety) and our weather (poor) isn’t terribly surprising. Popular in Australia, Canada and the States – yes. There’s even a couple in India. Film4 took a touring version around Britain a few years ago and last winter, Pinewood Studios opened its doors for two months of weekend features. A mobile drive-in is supposedly doing the rounds of Nottingham car parks but its events board looks worryingly empty.
But now the drive-in gets its periodic British renaissance. Last Thursday, I went to the Starlite Urban Drive-In in London’s Brick Lane and wow - Grease had it right, drive-ins are amazing. What Grease didn't have was lots of flashy neon signs, kitschy rollerskating waitresses, lots of cocktails and popcorn. I hadn’t quite realised how much fun it could be just sitting in a car without having to actually drive anywhere or wait for an AA rescue. A fleet of reliable-but-a-bit-dull Volvos were provided for us, as, with practically nobody in London owning a car, the alternative would be drive-in bicycles, Streetcar rentals and Oyster cards.
Empire’s Anna Smith and friends were piled in the back seat of the Volvo next to me, merrily waving drinks and honking horns. Purely on the basis of having a horn to honk and zero risk of actually moving anywhere, my non-driving boyfriend decided that driving was “amazing and easy” and that I should let him do all the driving from now on.
London sold out very quickly but keep an eye on the Starlite website [http://www.starliteurbandrivein.co.uk] because the whole shebang, cars included, is touring the UK in September with plans for a European jaunt next year.
In the meantime, I would really, really like to go to another drive-in, so please detail your favourite outdoor film spots and (preferably active) drive-ins and look forward to a gang of unkempt Empire writers rocking up on your doorstep and asking for directions…