Hands up if you get nostalgic at the thought of watching movies in a drive-in cinema. Yup… just as I thought. I also have both my hands raised. I had gone to the airport a couple of weeks ago to pick a friend up and on the way on Mombasa Road I passed by Belle Vue Drive In Cinema and that made me smile because it brought back a flood of memories.
Every Sunday used to be the day when we’d all look forward to going to watch an Indian movie with the whole family. We’d all have a late brunch and then Mum would start cooking, usually chicken biriyani, to take along with us to the cinema. The car would be packed up and my siblings and I would chatter excitedly on the journey from Westlands to South C.
We usually used to leave home by about 5pm and sometimes encounter huge queues right up to Mombasa Road. Slowly we’d inch forward as each car got checked by an attendant who spoke to the guy in the glassed off cubicle to let him know how many occupants were in the car; adults and children head-counted separately. We’d be given our tickets and Dad would drive in to our usual parking spot and us kids would groan and squeal loudly if someone had gotten in earlier and taken our favourite spot.
Parking the car was a huge issue. We had to get the angle just right on those hilly spots, make sure that the speaker that was to be hung in the car worked properly and that the occupants in the next cars were not rowdy young people who were there for the sole purpose of making Belle Vue a dating ground. Usually because we went with Dad’s brother and his family this was never a problem with us.
Once parked we would spill out of the cars, the Mums would go for a walk to see if there were other aunties who had also come for the show with us kids in tow, the Dads would go off to the canteen to stock up on the sodas and I used to love sneaking off with my Dad because he’d buy us chocolates and also there was this strange novelty mirror inside the canteen and we’d love to stand in front of it and make faces and giggle at the contorted figures it would reflect. Then back in the cars with our goodies, I used to love to count the coloured lights on top of the screen. I think there were seventy-something lights on top there.
The food would be eaten at the Interval and usually after the short break and dinner, my siblings and I would fall asleep in the car. We’d wake up when we’d hear the car start up and we’d see lines of other vehicles trying to make a beeline for the exit because it would be almost 11pm by the time we started exiting and the next day would be a working or school day so getting home in time to sleep was suddenly very important!
I’m not sure if the two known drive in cinemas operate anymore. Actually I do know that Belle Vue is actually a church now days but I’m not sure about Fox Drive In. I had heard it’s closed down but some say they still have movies showing every now and then.
Reminiscing about this fabulous trip down memory lane has brought back wonderful moments to mind. I’d love to hear from you have any memories of Drive In cinemas.