Hooray! The drive-in is making a comeback in Joburg

15 February 2017 - 11:30 By Ufrieda Ho

The jury's still out on wearing onesies in public, but one place you'll get away with it is at the launch of a pop-up drive-in that's coming to a stretch of Jozi lawn near you.

Expect vintage entertainment when the first pop-up drive-in launches in Observatory this month — with more to come all across Joburg.
Expect vintage entertainment when the first pop-up drive-in launches in Observatory this month — with more to come all across Joburg.
Image: Getty Images

Drive-ins are, after all, about enjoying home comforts in a public place, and for the woman behind Drive.in.co, Leone Amon, "it's about putting up your feet and using city spaces creatively. Joburg is ripe for outdoor cinema."

Amon, who is an events organiser, struck on the idea of a mobile drive-in a few seasons ago. She had lived in Ireland for 14 years before settling in Joburg in 2012.

"I also always thought Joburg winters were perfect weather for drive-ins because it doesn't rain."

She's launching her inaugural mobile drive-in at the Sylvia's Market grounds (at the top of Sylvia's Pass) in Observatory on February 25. Two 6mx4m screens will be erected on the night; 200 cars can be accommodated and the event starts at 6pm.

The launch event will evoke the heyday of drive-ins, so expect the Drive.in.co team to be dressed in 1950s kit to get movie-goers into the mood for vintage entertainment. There'll be snacks on sale and a coffee station, but people are welcome to pack a picnic basket and park off under the stars.

"We'll be showing old movies, because the licensing is really expensive. But the idea is that this is about the experience rather than the movie," says Amon.

Drive-ins are an experience that's probably alien to anyone under the age of 25 living in Joburg. When the Top Star Drive-In that operated on a mine dump parallel to the M2 was finally mothballed in 2008, it signalled the end of an era. No more teenage groping in back seats, the end of raging with radio dials to tune into the right frequency for audio and the end of munching on junk food while staring at a big screen without someone giving you the 180 head-turn and death stare.

Drive-ins became casualties of tech and on-demand downloads. But nostalgia has a Lazarus effect that can make throwbacks trendy again. Amon believes it, judging by the interest and response she's received.

"It's the perfect opportunity for families to get their kids off their phones and to spend some time together experiencing something different," she says.

Her drive-in nights will feature a double bill with the first film always being child-friendly. Movie selection (though limited) is open for votes, so the crowd-pleasers will be shown. After the launch on February 25, the next event will be held on Cedar Road, Fourways, on March 25.

• For details and ticketing info check out Drive.in.co on Facebook.

• This article was originally published in The Times.