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Saturday, July 25, 2009

New York Times Article

Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In was recently in the New York Times.

It definitely seemed a bit weird that we appeared in the automobiles section, weird enough that it demanded a response:

As a member of the Guerilla Drive-In collective in Santa Cruz, I can say that these types of renegade movie theaters are increasingly popular. Currently, we have over 1,100 people on our email list and regularly screen films for audiences of 50 to 100 people.

It is true that the traditional, commercial drive-in still exists (as many posters have pointed out), but free, do-it-yourself drive-ins, like the one in Santa Cruz, are popping up all over the country, and these guerilla theaters are challenging the fundamentals of the commercial drive-in business.

Our screenings have always been explicitly car-free. We have always shown the movies in fields or parks where cars are not able to enter. The result is an event that feels very much like a night-time picnic. People bring blankets that they spread on the ground. They usually bring snacks and drinks (sometimes with extra to share). Some people even come early and loll around in the grass, chatting with their neighbors.

At our screenings, we build in time for neighborly interactions, and challenge people to get up and meet other folks who are attending. Amazingly, the result is almost always positive. Without being confined to a car, people feel free to get up and wander around, make connections with others, build community. It is like being at the beach and inviting people to leave the insularity of their blanket behind and get to know the others around them.

In fact, Guerilla Drive-In is one of the few places in Santa Cruz where people can meet and mingle with others outside the realm of consumerism. In our society, most people who want to meet others find themselves at a bar. The result is that socializing becomes synonymous with drinking, and meeting someone becomes synonymous with buying them a drink. At Guerilla Drive-In, people meet each other by passing on a bag of popcorn that they made at home or by sharing freshly baked cookies.

People want these kinds of authentic connections. They want to get out of their cubicles, get out of their cars, they want to lie under the stars and share a laugh or a cry with others. That is the reason the guerilla drive-in movement will continue to spread.

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