Summer at the Drive-In

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 | Things We Love, Uncategorized

Atl132 It’s true, car culture and consumer tastes have come a long way since the heyday of the drive-in theater. Between higher gas prices and breakthroughs in surround sound and 3D technology, this patently American pastime has taken a backseat to more modern modes of entertainment. But for those looking for a trip down memory lane, few things capture the essence of raw Americana like an open-air double feature.

Recently, I caught one such double feature with a handful of friends. Of the less than 400 outdoor screens open nationwide, Atlanta’s Starlight Drive-In still shows back-to-back new releases seven days a week. For those picturing rows of family sedans insulated from everything except screen and window speaker, think again. Today’s drive-in takes a page from another iconic pastime, the tailgate, complete with portable grills and coolers packed to the brim. By the time we backed into our space—SUVs have built-in theater seats—the regulars were already flipping burgers and making drinks. We were so busy mixing and mingling that we didn’t even turn on the radio until halfway through the opening credits.

Sure, the picture wasn’t razor sharp and the sound didn’t rattle our seats, but the experience was well worth the price of admission (which, at seven bucks per person, was a steal). And after all, isn’t that what summer is all about? Sharing experiences with friends and loved ones—whether it’s under the sun or after the lights go out.