Alternative headline for this post, “Spier just dropped the watermelon”. But let’s start from the beginning.
- Or you can scroll through to the end of this post for 3 updates that were added through the week.
I grew up in a time when drive-ins were slowly being phased out, but was already an overgrown field in my rundown plattelandse hometown. So this experience was high on my (sadly limited childhood) bucketlist.
Spier Wine Farm preys on this kind on nostalgia. Tickets for their drive-in screenings sell out weeks in advance. By hook and crook we got a ticket (it’s sold by car) to the Dirty Dancing screening on 27 February.
The organisation was bumpy from the beginning, the cars pilled up as only one person ticked off names from a list and explained how the evening worked. We weren’t on the list but were ‘allowed in’ because we had the ticket on us. Very decent of them. The ‘movie usher’ and security at the field were much friendlier. Spier claimed to arrange the cars according to size. You know, like a raised 4×4 in the row in front of a Mini Cooper.
Retro date night – despite of the general negative tone of this post we had a lot of fun
Due to power failure/technical difficulties the film started about 15 minutes late. We were kept in the loop by the lady apologising over the radio and asking questions that couldn’t be answered by a hoot of a car horn.
Once the movie started rolling it was wonderful. As the sound comes from your car’s radio once tuned in a local frequency, it’s clear and as loud as you need it to be. It feels like you’re in a bubble. I didn’t hear a single person from the cars near us, there was just the occational flash of a selfie.
Then about three quarters into the movie the DVD skipped over a whole section. It happened so quick that those kissing in the backseat wouldn’t have noticed how one second Baby and Johnny were cuddling in a post coidal glow and the next she was at breakfast with the folks. Yet this was a forgivable fuck up compared to what happened next.
One fool proof way to have a good time is to bring your own props
Just after the movie’s famous line (Nobody puts Baby in the corner!) the DVD started acting up again messing up the pivotal dance scene. The bubble burst, I could hear my neighbours clearly, loud boos and car horns were hurled across the field. In between empty apologies the scene was restored and the last few minutes played in the spirit it was made, in spite of management.
Radio lady blamed the glitches on the fact that they had to wait for dark therefore they couldn’t run a test (or some bs like that, no version of which makes sense). Is it not possible to do a dry run the night before, when it was also dark? But mostly, haven’t they done tons of movie nights which uses the same technology and general setup? You have a cashcow on your hands Spier, invest in equipment that works and people who know what they’re doing.
I’m filing this experience under a fun night with my Baby that I won’t recommend to anyone with high irritation levels and have a need to get value for their money. Rather support the professionals at the Galileo Theatre or watch a shaky bootleg on your tablet.
Note: Now and then I write random rants that I delete, why should I add more negativity to the internet? This post was doomed to that fate until I got this response from Spier’s Twitter account:
So instead of writing another account of the evening’s events that they won’t read, I thought I’ll just post it here where my mother stays up to date with my life.
UPDATE 1: The following Facebook post was in response to another complaint on Spier’s facebook group.
Short & Sweet Cape Town: Hi Raighan, we are responsible for your experience last night. Short&Sweet pioneered the pop – up drive in and we host the drive-in at Spier. Last night we experienced a technical fault – which I’m sure u can imagine was my worst nightmare. I want nothing more than everything to run smoothly from beginning to end, but that doesn’t always happen, and we need to roll with it. We had a good copy of the film, but it was a Dvd format, which is the worst format to screen from- but our options are limited legally. Please note SPIER are not responsible for the technical fault or the non-stop talking MC (me) – Short&Sweet take full responsibility – we are not an audio and visual company, we are a movement that aims to bring the magic of film to everyone by taking film out of the theatre and into the city bringing it to the people. I host free screenings at schools using the short film medium to educate, inspire and empower the youth – we also host pop-up cinema as fundraisers for schools across the country. The mission is to get cinema everywhere – screens = access to information for everyone! With regards to the price, I have struggled with customers saying R250 is too expensive for a ticket – It is not R250 per ticket – it is R250 per car. This makes it R62.50 per person with 4 people in a car, which is less than the cinema, but it includes all of the other magic. The pop-up cinema set up is a big job – my team of 7 work 12-14 hour shifts when we host the drive-in – The screen is extremely heavy and when the wind blows it is almost impossible to lift it onto the stage. But they rock it every time. That said I sincerely apologize that the magic I had hoped you would experience was not realized. I can only hope that this message helps you see who we are and that your support is playing a role in the bigger plan we are working on. Much love xjulia
UPDATE 2: Spier has since taken ownership of this situation. I am open to being wrong about an establishment that makes wine (happy even) (early days) (this is the last bracket in this paragraph). They sent the following email to everyone who attended the event:
Spier takes ownership of the Dirty Dancing drive-in f*up
FINAL UPDATE: I have changed the headline of this post [Nobody (except Spier) puts Baby in the corner] which was a true reflection of our experience at the drive- in on Saturday, to something that sums up the experience since then. Spier stepped up. Customer service isn’t dead.