Ode to The Rio Theatre

I moved to the edge of Burnaby from the West End of Vancouver about 4 months ago. Last night, while a fellow former English Bay living friend was reminiscing and fantasizing about returning, I lamented how I missed the West End today. But it was a neighborhood full of redevelopment permits and luxury condo plans that would forever change the flavour of the community. Today, I miss it; tomorrow, I will miss what we had. It will become a memory of a chapter of my life that I will talk about fondly.

Then this morning, I learned about The Rio Theatre being on the sale and chop block.

Oh, but any new development will need to have a Theatre too.

The Rio isn’t just ‘a Theatre’. It is a symbol of character and diversity in a city that seems to not value its’ preservation while approving all of these redevelopment plans. Every time I’ve gone to this venue, it has been for a completely unique experience: a Greenpeace documentary, a comedy show, puppeteer DJs, human DJs, costumed 80s movie viewing, the Academy Awards. In a city crying for arts venues, this one provides. They successfully crowd-funded repairing their sign. They rallied and changed liquor laws for all theatres in BC.

I want to take my son here, one day. I want him to squoosh on the red seats, jam buttered popcorn into a grilled cheese, and answer a trivia question then run on stage to collect his prize. I want him to be able to see my childhood cult classic films on the big screen. I want him to see a non-cookie clutter version of my city, that was built when design and taste was different; when lightbulbs lit a sign; when everything wasn’t plasma screened and glass-plated and owned by the same corporate conglomerate.

I wish the folks at the Rio all the best in their fight. Check them out on Twitter, sign the petition and follow what’s next.

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