Around the time of the Precambrian Era, when I was a teenager, the pinnacle of romantic gestures was to take your crush to the movies. Actually, this isn’t a tradition exclusive to my generation but rather a time-honoured step within the grand dance that is courtship. In the 50’s and 60’s, the drive-in was notorious for romantic going-ons, while opulent movie theatres have offered courting couples a respectable way to get to know each other for decades. Today, that tradition is proudly continued but not necessarily at the monstrously sized cinemas in the monstrously sized malls that dot the Cape.
I’m talking about the Galileo Open Air Cinema, which is – hands down – the most approachably romantic way to spend an evening, even if you are watching something mindless like Dawn of the Dead. Just think about it: swathed in blankets whilst sprawled out on a lush lawn somewhere like a beautiful wine estate in Stellenbosch, Kirstenbosch Gardens, or at the V&A Waterfront’s “Battery Park”; a glass of wine or a cold beer in hand, popcorn in the other, an enormous screen beaming out a classic film or the latest blockbuster, and a canopy of stars overhead. Does it get any better than that?
I should know, I’ve been to one of the Galileo’s screenings before (Pride & Prejudice at Knorhoek Wine Estate) but since good science is repetition, it was imperative that I attend the grand opening of Season 7 to remind myself how very exceptional and romantic this experience is. On the menu for the night was the risqué Dirty Dancing, featuring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, and the venue, the magically lush and spectacularly verdant Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Setting the scene
To transform an open space into the latest and greatest movie theatre requires nothing more than an inflatable screen onto which the movie is projected and a decent sound system. The tickets are priced similarly to regular movie theatres and provide the option to rent blankets and backrests, which can mean the difference between a smarting derrière and a comfortable experience.
Upon arrival, we collected our backrests and blankets and settled onto the lawn in front of the enormous screen. Smart tip: most people set themselves up in the middle but if you’d like an easier exit strategy to use the loo or stock up on food and beverages during the movie, the peripheries of the crowd are the best.
Several vendors also rig up stands around the natural open air theatre to provide a decent variety of food and beverage options, from pizza, wraps, and gourmet samosas to fresh, hot coffee and the ubiquitous popcorn and sweetie stands. Moviegoers are welcome to bring their own picnic baskets, which is recommendable if you have strict or picky dietary requirements. After all, this is an open-air cinema and not your local fine dining establishment. Also, if you happen to be an enormous fan of wine and are attending a screening at a non-wine estate venue, you should take a bottle with you.
Minimal environmental impact
The team behind the Galileo Open Air Cinema prides itself on having as minimal a footprint as possible, which is what makes screening in places such as wine estates and botanical gardens feasible in the first place. After the show, the chairs and blankets are safely returned to the cinema staff, while all trash is disposed of in the well-marked recycling bins provided. And so, save for a few flattened blades of grass and a disgruntled neighbourhood owl, it’s as though a crowd of hundreds was never there.
There’s something socially satisfying about watching a movie with a crowd of people – it makes the funny scenes funnier and it heightens the anxiety of the thrill. It doesn’t matter that the movie isn’t screened in uber high definition or that you can’t feel the vibration of the base in your spine, as is the case with modern movie cinemas. The Galileo Open Air Cinema is all about the enchantment of watching a movie under the stars with people who are like-minded enough to want to watch the same movie together; it’s about the romance of snuggling under a blanket together and hearing the soft warbling call of nearby night birds during lulls in the sound.
I was, am, and always will be a fan of the open-air cinema concept and the team behind the Galileo pull it off seamlessly with maximum respect for the art of cinema and minimal impact on the environment. If you are yet to experience this staple of Cape Town summer, make the seventh season of the Galileo Open Air Cinema season YOUR season!
Season running dates: 17th October 2018 to 21st April 2019
Doors open from 6pm on weekdays, 5pm on Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays. Movies start after sunset.
Ticket prices range from R89 to R175 p/p depending on the ticket type
To view the movie schedule and to book your tickets, visit www.thegalileo.co.za
Contact: 071 471 8728 | email@example.com