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Abbotsford reacts to Towne Cinema theatre shut-down

DH Vancouver Staff Jan 22, 2015 10:36 am

“Just pull around the corner, mom!” and other memories from Towne Cinema’s 40-year span.

Having grown up in Abbotsford myself, I can say from experience that a night at Towne Cinema Centre was quite the ordeal.

As the date-night mecca for Abbotsford’s teen population, Towne Cinema was the place where our parents still had to drop us off because it was too far to walk, where waiting for friends to show up was spent analyzing the encased posters outside, and once inside, the musky smell meant you had made it. Was that real velvet rope, does anyone know? The carpeted floors were as thick and tacky as velour tracksuits and must have been horrendous to vacuum.

But we loved it; it was our padded jungle, our ticket to a good time and at least two whole hours of freedom with allowance money to blow.

On the far back wall was the pretzel stand, where a salted treat meant going home happily bloated and broke. There was always cotton candy hanging on display at the popcorn stand, pink or blue and always a few dollars out of reach. Real butter was extra but fake butter was accessible from the push of a button at an exiled stand near the bathrooms.

This is where I fell in love with popcorn seasoning; dill pickle, salt and vinegar, ketchup. It is where I put two straws in the pop, one for me and one for a friend, and it was in this theatre that I ran away from a kiss; he leaned in, I pretended I had to go to the bathroom, and left. His breath smelled like sour patch kids, and I realized that I was simply too young for love. Thank you, Towne Cinema.

It was at this theatre that, although frowned upon, early friends would save an entire row for their late friends by removing every article of clothing possible to drape over seats. This is the theatre that screened ET and the first Star Trek movie, where the seats became slightly uncomfortable near the end of the movie, so you were half-watching while shifting around to get the circulation flowing.

This is where sitting in the back row was rebellious, where sneaking into another movie was a thrill, where breakups went down before curfew and sweaty hands connected in dark corners.

Abbotsford residents weigh in on the theatre’s demise and some of their own memories over the years:

“First place I ever saw a movie in a theatre. I was four (1988ish), and a family friend took me to see Lady and the Tramp. There there’s the midnight screenings of Star Wars prequel, where we lined up with a stereo backpack and entered the building to the Imperial March. So many memories.” – Jay M.

“Memories from a bygone era of entertainment with family and friends…hard to compete with the superior Cineplex.” – Dietrich B.

“My partner and I went there once or twice since we moved here but it looked like it was run down and not many people cared about it….Only one bus serves it in evenings and the area is not all that great once it gets dark out…. Plus some of the staff I have seen working there seemed like they were being forced to work there, not much enthusiasm on their parts at times.” – Cals G.

“It’s funny how people say they loved it so much and used to go there. Well if people kept going they might not have had to make this decision. Myself I went a couple times always found it to be dirty n not looked after.” – Kevin A.

“Always sad to see places close. But I was surprised to see it survive as long as it had. The experience here hasn’t been close to what other theaters have provided for a while…. Now you have VIP over at high street. They should have upgraded. Those that don’t adapt won’t survive. It’s just the reality.” -Clay W.

“It’d be great if they turned it into a church, overpriced condo housing, or a giant spa/gym.” – Adam R.

“This is just plain sad….sorry to hear. the bigger people push around the smaller people….” – Beth M.

“This is a real shame. I have been going to this theatre for years. Took my children and then my grandchildren. Now my husband and I often drive out for a Tuesday matinee! It’s close, parking is easy, a lovely building, great movies, friendly staff…We will truly miss you…you were simply the best!” – Annette M.

The theatre will play its final show on Saturday, February 7.

DH Vancouver Staff
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