Saturday, April 13, 2013

Great Summer Date: The Drive-in Movie !!!

Great Summer Date: The Drive-in Movie  - parking - gas station
You might want to think about borrowing a car that has bench seating in the front if yours has bucket seats, for better snuggling.

The drive-in movie theater is one of most widely recognized symbols of American culture. It’s right up there with hamburgers, baseball and cowboys. From the very first show on June 6, 1933 in Camden, New Jersey, Americans were captivated by the idea of a cinematic experience under the stars in the comfort of their own car. And it still makes an unforgettable summer date night!

Throughout the hay day of the 1950’s through the 1970’s, people of all ages would go to be seen, to take the family for a night out or to kiss in the back seat. Driving your car into a semi-circle of patrons all pointed at a huge outdoor screen was a bonding experience and just a whole lot of fun. At first the sound was broadcast from speakers near the outdoor screen itself, then technology moved toward individual car speakers the size of sideview mirrors that were hung inside the car’s window. But these often caused damage, especially if you tried to drive away with one still attached. Eventually it was discovered that a radio frequency could be picked up inside the car that would allow the car stereo to take over the job. But even now when you pull up to your spot at a drive-in, the old speaker poles are still there as a reminder of the way things were. 

The1980’s and 90’s almost saw the complete obliteration of the drive-in with the introductions of VCRs and cable television. Why would you bother going to an outdoor cinema to ‘be alone’ when you could just stay home in your living room? But every innovation becomes old hat, and now cinema of any kind has become much more about a ‘night out’ than just seeing the latest movies. Not surprisingly, this new attitude has brought a resurgence of the drive-in movie in our new century. 

In the age of the Internet, the drive-in movie has a brand-new meaning that ties us to the nostalgia for more innocent times, and it’s gaining in popularity. I can think of one reason for this: It still makes for an awesome date! 

Snuggled up close in the comfort of your own car you can talk all you want and unwrap loud candy bar paper without recrimination, yet you still get the thrill of seeing a movie with an audience. The excitement of taking a ‘road trip’ out to the country or across town to the nearest outdoor screen makes the night special from the start, and the nostalgic Americana experience will take your ‘date night’ out of the ordinary and into the realm of the memorable. 

Check out or to find an outdoor screen in your town and then plan your trip. These websites are run by dedicated drive-in movie fans who have scouted out all the operating theaters available and offer lots of tips for the un-initiated such as:

1.    Many theaters let you sit outside your car, so bring lawn chairs, blankets and a portable radio (to tune into the movie’s frequency) if you’d like to be literally under the stars.

2.    Avoid letting your headlights shine during the show as they can shine on the screen and ruin the picture. Use parking lights and drive very slowly when you have to or, if you have daytime running lights, you may need to use your parking brake to keep them off.

3.    Start your car every once in a while during the show to avoid a dead battery from keeping the ignition in the ‘accessories’ position. If you do experience a dead battery, just let the staff know. They are accustomed to this problem and will know how to help.

You might want to think about borrowing a car that has bench seating in the front if yours has bucket seats, for better snuggling (or potential snuggling). Or, you can get into the back seat and slide down low to watch. It makes for a cozy environment either way where you have the best of both worlds – a night under the stars, yet privacy to smooch and talk.

If you’re old enough to remember going to the drive-in movie theater on dates, then you’ll have blast re-living that experience and sharing memories with your current partner . And if this is all new to you – give it a try! The drive-in movie date is one of those special summer nights out that neither of you will forget quickly. The romantic nostalgia makes it feel like a brand new adventure.

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