First Time

I thought I would write my first article on the website around my “first experience at the cinema”. During lockdown a lot of people are struggling and myself find it difficult at times with the whole Groundhog Day experience. So I would thought I would branch out and try something creative. I used to work on websites almost 10 years ago so thought i would combine my love and passion of cinema and use the website as an outlet. So here it goes, I hope people get something from this and take a trip down memory lane.

I can still remember my first trip to cinema, with my parents, I had just turned 6 and at the time, this was a huge deal! I had always looked up at the cinema in the city centre in awe. On Saturday morning there was always a huge queue starting from the steps of the of building, going all the way around the corner and even sometimes leading down the street to the open market. You could always gauge the size of the movie release by the size of the movie queue.

It was at the old ABC cinema in Sunderland, didn’t look like much on the outside, but felt massive on the inside! Almost like the Tardis in Doctor Who. I remember waiting for the first time, looking around at all the other kids and adults patiently waiting for the doors to open. I felt like Charlie from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, waiting for the large decorated gates to open. When the doors opened, out walked a man holding a clicker to count the number of people he could allow in. I remember him smiling down at me as I passed with my Mam and Dad and how they would remind me to say thank you, manners were always important in my upbringing. I'm so happy that was ingrained in me back then.

The excitement building inside me as I walked through the open doors, the entrance felt as though it was "posh" and filled with importance, but to a northern 6 year old most things seemed posh. It was decorated wall to wall in dark burgundy carpets and wallpaper. Seeing the movie posters in the foyer and wondering what film to see next, imagining what the films would be like built my excitement to bursting point. Then the smell - a sweet sugary smell that also felt warm and welcoming. There was a little area close to the ticket booth where there was a glass cabinet, a popping sound was coming from it. I was amazed to see how the popcorn was made, as before that trip I had only saw popcorn when it came in a packet. I then remember being led to my seat with a lady in a red vest and she carried a flash light. I always thought she looked really important and honestly was a little scared of her, like you might've been scared of your head teacher. I was even obsessed with the seats and how they would automatically fold away when you stood up, as if by magic. I would often get told off in the future, when i used to play with the seats, pulling them down and watching them fire back making a loud clunking sound. That always seemed to do the trick to annoy my parents, which I found hilarious! The big screen was hidden by a red velvet curtain, which was the biggest thing I had ever seen when I was a kid, like a like a big top tent at a circus. I know these days we are spoilt with large screens, from IMAX to huge multi screen cinemas. The old ABC only had 2 screens the big screen and a smaller one. The smaller one was used for the lesser known film releases or films that were about to leave the cinema. Remember that long, excruciating, wait for video release?

All of a sudden that large curtain would start to open and the lights go down. I used to think this was magic, I had never seen anything like this before in person, I had only seen it on TV. It totally blew my mind and I was hooked from that moment. The whole experience seduced me, this was going to be my drug of choice going forward! Even today, during a pandemic, the fact we can't go to a cinema is something I have found really difficult. So much so, that I have tried to recreate this at home with a projector and a large sheet. Not quite the same, but it fulfils the addiction.

The adverts and trailers came on and it was mind-blowing, I was on the edge of my seat to the point I almost fell off. It was only my dad pulling me back that stopped me. With us being from the North East a few local shops were in the adverts that you didn’t see on the TV. I still remember the Ibbitsons Butchers advert as the closing shot, outside the market had a photo of someone that looked a lot like my Grandad. It probably wasn’t him, but my Dad always played along telling me it was. Still, to this day, I have a strange desire to get to the cinema to watch the trailers, to be honest sometimes I enjoy them more than the movie.

The film would then start, the big classification would appear before the movie, letting you know what the film would contain. The Land Before Time was the film I was about to watch. A cartoon about a group of young dinosaur friends that, due to changes in the world, had to move to find new land or die and go extinct. It's a coming of age tale about loss and finding yourself in a land that time forgot. I still have fond memories of this film, even though parts of it gave me nightmares at the time. The film had a protagonist, a vicious T-Rex called Sharptooth who chased the young group, led by Littlefoot, through the story. There was also a disturbing death scene that involved Littlefoot's mother being killed by Sharptooth. I haven't watched the film in a long time, so will have to revisit it soon to give a more in-depth review.

This would be the first of many trips to that old Cinema, sometimes with my parents, sometimes with friends and even sometimes on my own. Each trip brought a different memory or a different experience but each time my love and obsession for movies and the cinema experience grew and grew. Let's just hope that once this crazy time is over we can all go back and enjoy the cinema again, and for a lot of young people have their first trip to the cinema.

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