Madrid: Open Air, the coolest summer cinema
Open Air Madrid
The Open Air show has been in a number of cities around the globe, and came to Madrid as part of the "Summer in The Village" program, a yearly event spanning the summer months, where city dwellers can enjoy concerts, exhibitions, sport events, activities for kids, all at reasonable prices if not free, and most under the sun or stars, which is the whole point of having a summer program.
I still get a rush when I think of my Open Air experience. Wow and double wow. This isn't just an uncouth middle aged woman who's never seen technology displayed at full swing, this is a traveler in high circles who's seen quite a few of the novel and delightful wonders of the XXI Century. AHEM. To make a long story short: I was bowed!
The screen, surround sound and light systems
The screen is folded until the show begins, as you can see in the photo above. Unfolding it is part of the show, and don't mind me if I say it's one of the most fascinating parts of it.
Unfolded, the screen is about 300 square meters, that's almost 1000 square feet, as big as a tennis court or, if you'd rather compare with other cinema screens, this one is 3 times bigger than your usual theater screen.
The screen unfolding
When the show is ready to begin, a voiceover warns everyone to sit back and enjoy, the monstrous Dolby 5.1 surround system, qualified for rock concerts, booms like the world is ending and a series of lights and lasers start dancing on time with the music.
Unfolding the screen takes about 90 seconds, and it doesn't reach a full vertical position, it's left slightly tilted towards the ground, to facilitate viewing. Smart, eh?
Open Air, as its name indicates, it's always an under the stars affair, so it will be installed on parks, city squares, football stadiums or the likes. Madrid found a fabulous location for the show, an open air auditorium in Tierno Galvan park, a green complex where Madrid's IMAX theater and Planetarium are also located.
As you can see in the satellite image, the auditorium is reminiscent of a Roman anfitheater, I'd seen this location on news reports a number of times, but I'd never been to it before, what do you know. In general, it hosts music shows, rock or classic, and spectators sit on the ground, with a comfortable space between rows where the grass grows.
For the Open Air show, however, people won't sit on the floor, but on deck chairs, voila!
After clearing the access passage, one comes face to face with approximately 1000 deck chairs lined up in front of the screen and it's, oh, I don't know, charming to boot! So once the movie starts one literally lays back to enjoy the show!
If all the technical setup and hammock-like comfort factor still didn't sell it to you, I'm not done yet and there is further enticement to drag you to the next Open Air event in Madrid, or elsewhere.
The movie and the high tech display is just part one of this fantastic summer event, part two is the bars and restaurants and special DJ shows that go on till the wee hours. When the movie ends, the space remains open as a huge disco slash pub slash lounge area which you can enjoy till you drop (in your deck chair!), or ortherwise until you're kicked out at 3 am.
There are hot dog stands, popcorn stands (evidently, my dear Watson, popcorn couldn't be missing in the movies!), ice cream stands, a sushi and salad bar, some hot food areas too, with the ever present Spanish omelet, croquettes, and some other typical Spanish finger food.
The drink selection ranges from water and sodas to beer and other stronger beverages, if that's your cup of tea once the night has fallen. There was a tropical drinks stand, serving margaritas, daiquiris, mohitos, caipirinhas, piña coladas. I particularly liked the Orange lounge, which reminded me of a chic beach joint.
And, because this is all open air, you can either sit around the tables strategically placed on the little hills on the sides of the screen (see them on the left of the popcorn stand), or you can take everything to your deck chair and have it there.
There were some cute usherettes, too!
Now will you take a gander and these girls, all decked out in their usherette uniforms! Is it, or is it not, the coolest, freshest, dandiest uniform ever?
Pssst... pssst... Isn't she forgetting something?
Yes she is! A kind of relevant aspect, too. You're probably wondering what plays on Open Air, aren't you. Well, this is no regular summer cinema affair playing last year's hits or B&W classics or reruns of "I Love Lucy". Nothing against those, don't misunderstand me, but Open Air is in a class of its own when it comes to summer cinema. From the 12 nights it was in Madrid, there were 5 pre-releases and the rest were current hits from 2010 season. If nothing else worked as motivation, I hope this will!