The Alamo Drafthouse in Austin is one of those things that you brag about to people who don't live in your town. Most towns have things like this and the larger the town, the more things you have. There's a saturation point at which the novelties become common place and "when everyone is super, no one is." I believe that's happening to The Alamo.
When I first moved to Austin about 13 year ago (yes this is going to be one of those) the Drafthouse was still a weird little one screen theater in downtown Austin. It was one of the only places you could see The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The Colorado St. theater eventually closed, but by then a new 4 screen Alamo popped up a little farther north. Then another farther north, then another a bit south of downtown. The downtown Ritz reopened in a new location. This is all to say I've been a patron of the theater for nearly as long as they've been around.
The brand itself has been sold and now there are theaters in Houston, San Antonio and a town in Virginia. There's also talk of a new theater in Denver. The Alamo is big and it's due in large part to its dinner format and its propensity to run cult movies. Other theaters have food and club houses, but the Alamo has events. They change their menu to run specials to match the events. They run TV shows, festival marathons and outdoor Rolling Roadshows. It's a very cool theater.
The problem is, like everything good, it gets big and noticed. And I'm sure, like all things that get big and noticed, there are old farts like me lining up to complain about it.
I've had very few problems with Alamo over the years. We've always been able to get tickets, the food is always tasty and the events they run are entertaining. We first saw the Intergalactic Nemesis at the Alamo. We've gone to New Year's Eve parties, seen 80's films, watched an MST3K type group rip on some classics and of course seen our fair share of summer blockbusters. It's a place I tell my friends about and they are jealous it exists only (well, primarily) in Texas. The Alamo was voted the #2 best movie theater in the US and one of its preview bumpers about not texting made it to Anderson Cooper's show.
The Drafthouse started running a test last year with reserved seating and here is where I have a problem with it. I'm not a communist or socialist, but even if I were there are some things I don't believe in. One of those is that I don't believe money should get you special privileges. Now, this is a slippery slope because that sentence taken in another context could show me in an hypocritical light. My job earns me a paycheck which buys food and rent. My employer provides health insurance which comes out of my salary. By those minor things alone, I'm wealthy when compared to the rest of the world. However, I'm not specially seeking this out because I know it'll give me an advantage. I'm not allowing my check to be deducted so I can get into a hospital before someone. I'm not buying food from a grocery store so I can get to it before someone who has less or no money. I realize the argument at its base is not valid and I'm willing to concede that.
That said, I don't believe in paying extra for assigned seating. I don't like it on planes or movie theaters. I believe it promotes a class system if you can produce more cash and get bonuses because of it. If you and I are both traveling from Dallas to Chicago and you have extra 100's in your couch and I've had to save for six months, why is it okay for you to travel in luxury? Because you have more cash? If I worked and saved and was thrifty and diligent and made good choices and you received an inheritance or were the offspring of a mogul, who is the more deserving of a good seat on a plane?
These are philosophical questions that come up when I get all hot and bothered about assigned movie tickets, and here's why. We go to the movies regularly, but not a lot. We usually go in the evening, to the same theater and we buy food. We get there early, we don't often save seats. We tip well. We encourage people to go to the theater when they're in town. When things go wrong, we give the theater and its owners and operators a lot of slack. We're good patrons. But now it doesn't matter, because if you pay just a little extra, you can show up late and get good seats.
Now, that's not exactly true. You still have to be there 30 minutes early, but now a ticket prices of $12 instead of $10 will mean you get priority seating, aka first class. You don't get an assigned seat, but you get your pick of seat before general admission. It's like a concert or certain airlines. The more you pay, the better your seat. It doesn't matter if you're the biggest fan, or got there the earliest. If you don't pay more money, you don't get to be in a premier position.
And yes, I think all concerts should be one price, general admission. I think all airline tickets should be the same price, first come first served. I like the idea that effort and attentiveness and desire gets you the results you want, not just a few more digits in your salary. I think if you want it and get to it first, it's yours. If you wait and are lazy about it, money shouldn't save you. First class plane tickets should be abolished and last minute plane tickets should cost more. Early birds need rewards and having premium seating anywhere should be completely abolished. There was a local farm league hockey team in Austin for a while and you could get tickets for $8. You sat anywhere you wanted. If you got there early, you could sit near the glass. If you go there late, you couldn't.
I'm all for earning your keep and making a name for yourself and striking it rich and getting what you deserve. But being able to buy a nice house, a college education for your kids or a new car isn't the same as buying your way to the front of the line. We shouldn't penalize those who plan ahead by allowing those who pay more to move ahead.
I welcome your differing and blistering responses.
at 4:57 PM
LMA tried out for a bunch of instruments last weekend. Middle school is coming up and she's chosen band as a primary focus of her elective activity. It was that or art, theater arts or choir. She wanted to do all four, but was convinced that learning an instrument would be beneficial later in life.
If you look at all the videos on that channel, it's all (most) of her try outs. I believe she's settled on the oboe (not videoed) and then will take percussion in private training. She did very well at all her events, got high marks and the teachers were fighting over her at a couple points. LMA is naturally bright and will likely pick this up no problem. We're very proud of her.
Yes it's a lot of random squeaking in the background. That will eventually turn into virtuoso performances at the London Philharmonic.
at 8:13 AM