THE HOYOS FILE: From the Globe to Limegrove
There seems to have been a reason why Barbados’ first cinemas – Plaza, Empire, Olympic, Roxy, Globe – were all located in “Town”. Cars were scarce, so most people went to see a movie after work before catching the bus home. I remember my mother doing this a lot because she loved big movies like Ben-Hur, while my father did not like movies at all.
As kids, we would mostly go on Saturdays. For that era, then, the cinemas were correctly located in the place where a mostly non-driving consumer could walk over after work and get a few hours of Hollywood escapism to lift his or her spirits before returning to the dreariness of the real world.
As cars became the dominant feature of modern life, cinemas began to break their bondage to The City, first with the two drive-ins becoming the places to take the date (and a few years later, the kids) and with the Vista Cinema reigning supreme at Worthing for years.
Meanwhile, over the years the City screens went off one by one, leaving only the Globe’s until recently. The Vista, after nearly 40 years of service – I remember seeing The Sound Of Music there in the early 1960s – closed in the late 1990s, around the same time as the opening of Olympus Cinemas at Sheraton Centre, the first multiplex cinema operation in Barbados. Apparently they felt they could not compete. Shame.
For me, the closing of the Globe Cinema after over half a century of service and the opening of the new Limegrove Cinemas on the West Coast provide (ahem) a dramatic example of the significant shift in how we consume movies today. That they occurred within a few weeks of each other may be sheer coincidence, but does strike me as highly symbolic.
The main Limegrove Cinema is really beautiful inside, with a high ceiling decorated with a large green inverted tray that gives the room a lift.
The screen is huge and the sound system excellent, and the service is innovative. The seats are wide and deep, so if the movie gets boring, there will be no miles to go before you sleep. Each seat has its own mini-table attached, on which there are two buttons, one to adjust the air-conditioning, the other to call for service.
You get a little menu card with checkboxes and a pencil when you come in, so you can pre-check your order.
So instead of lining up at the concession counter, you just press a button from your seat and someone comes to take your order for something to drink or eat.
Outside there is a lot of space on a beautiful verandah where you can, well, lime. You can also order food out there from the cinema’s kitchen even if you are not going to see a movie.
The cost of admission varies and is most expensive on weekends. You can also reserve your seats online and pay when you get there, I’m told. More innovation.
And if all of that is not enough, there is the whole of the wonderland known as Limegrove for you to explore before or after your movie. I will comment on that amazing place another time, but trust me, if you haven’t gone yet, please go. Limegrove will become part of your life and all Bajans are welcome there – even if, like me, they can only window-shop most of the time.
My rather scattershot description of the Limegrove cinema was not intended as PR – in fact, I found the food and drinks to be overpriced – but to show what movie exhibitors have to do nowadays to get customers, in a world where you can often get a pirated version of the movie on a poor quality DVD for five bucks (I especially like the “ambience” of the little human bodies moving around at the bottom of the screen), or download recent movies from iTunes for twenty.
But to get us to experience the movies as they really should be, they now have to be packaged as part of a lifestyle experience, like going to a sports bar to watch football when you can do the same at home if you have the satellite feed.
You see, we do have to escape from our electronic caves from time to time, mankind being a gregarious species and all. Yes, people under 20, there are times when even the electronic “social network” needs to be replaced by a flesh-and-bone one.
I know it seems unthinkable.
Unfortunately, the Globe Cinema, located on a busy roundabout in an increasingly shabby part of the metropolis, found itself on a piece of real estate which had become far removed from Barbados’ changing “lifestyle” locales – the dense shopping clusters where people like to multi-task their work, chores and leisure commitments. Today, going to a standalone facility for almost anything is becoming virtually unthinkable.
Which is why, by the way, I find it delightfully arcane, the “lengths” I have to go to get a pair of pants hemmed. It involves finding someone who actually still does it and then visiting the person’s shop, which is definitely not located in a popular shopping district or mall.
In our fast-paced culture we can get our fries “upsized” in a second, but to get our trouser lengths “downsized”, well, that takes days and has become an adventure all its own.
Meanwhile, Globe Cinema, thank you for your service, sorry it had to end; and Limegrove Cinema, thanks for upsizing our movie-going experience, but please downsize your prices.