Tuesday, 23 May 2017



Vlaykova: Sofia’s Old School Cinema



Alternative Cultural Guide to Sofia*   
Sofia’s Vlaykova Cinema is one of the four surviving movie theatres in the city, after the invasion of the mall multiplexes. It is also the only movie theatre whose screening programme doesn’t conform to those of the other three independent halls – the Cinema House, Lumiere and Odeon.

The cinema was named after the wife of Todor T. Vlaykov, who donated the house to serve as a community centre 70 years ago. The actual community centre, however, was named after Anton Strashimirov, who used to love visiting the place. The main change nowadays is that the snack place has turned into a standing bar and in order to buy a ticket you have to press a bell that summons the cashier, who is usually busy with one of the side activities that support the cinema (such as the sale of beer, for example).

The community centre has a good guitar and drums school. It, as well as its antiquated equipment, is owed to the Water Spirit – the front man of the colourful band by the same name, consisting of middle-aged men with huge beards, who often interrupt the beer fests with out-of-tune rock and blues covers. So, it was only expected that the Vlaykova Cinema in the last 20 years became the natural scene for the concerts and mini-festivals of the Bulgarian New Wave, punk and alternative bands, many of which – including Kaka Syara, Hedstol, KPD-0 and many others, played there. Recently, Vlaykova was supposed to house the Mini Sound Fest for experimental music, organized by the Dauhaus in October, but the horrible equipment made that impossible in the end.



In the Vlaykova Cinema, everything happens with its own, particular kind of rhythm, in front of a select few. The bar has its regulars, who usually stand around the pool table that now takes most of the space, as well as its fans who know where to go for a beer and a breath of fresh air. The peeling, mountain-house like interior is calm and the staff always lets you take some of the stored chairs and tables out and place them under the trees of the main street in front.

Address: Ivan Asen II 11 Street

Editor’s Note: A group of young enthusiasts has launched an initiative to make the foyer of the Vlaykova Cinema into an alternative space for a variety of creative music and art projects. The new, remodelled space launches with a party themed “ZOOFIA” on May 15.



* This story is part of the Alternative Cultural Guide to Sofia. The guide was created by students from Sofia University St Kliment Ohridski. Initiated by associate professor Alexander Kiossev, it was supported by the Sofia University’s Academic Research Fund. The texts, published in Bulgarian by the student magazine Piron, were edited by Lyuboslava Ruseva, and translated into English by BalkanTravellers.com.

 

 

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