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he  East   London   neighbourhood   of   Dalston’s   recent   surge   in   popularity   could   easily   be   mistaken   for   a   trendy   hipster   takeover   in   the   same   vein   as  Williamsburg  in  New  York.  Organic  cafes?  Check.   An   abundance   of   converted   loft   spaces?   Check.   A   healthy  population  of  fashion  designers  and  other   creative  types?  A  wealth  of  hip  young  designers  such  as   Christopher  K ane  a nd  G areth  P ugh  h ave  c hosen   to   hang   their   hats   here,   cementing   Dalston’s   reputation  as  a  hub  of  originality.  While  its  cool  factor   may  be  well  established,  Dalston’s  importance  within   the  foundations  of  cinema  history  and  as  the  home  of   the  Rio  Cinema  is  less  known.   In  1909,  local  shop  owner  Clara  Ludski  had  the  bold   insight   to   acknowledge   the   power   of   the   growing   moving   pictures   industry.   Transforming   her   humble   auctioneer’s   shop   into   an   electric   picture   house,   the   b u z z   s u r r o u n d i n g   t h e   c o n v e r s i o n   p r o v e d   s o   successful   that   the   neighbouring   buildings   were   acquired   in   order   to   transform   the   property   into   the   architecturally  decadent  Kingsland  Empire  in  1915.   Renovated   in   1937   and   renamed   The   Classic,   the   cinema  house  epitomised  the  evocative  employment   of   art   deco   style   by   cinema   architects   during   the  period.  However  striking  its  dÊcor,  the  cinema’s   greatest  success  over  the  decades  has  been  the   relationship  it  has  cultivated  and  maintained  with  the   surrounding  neighbourhood.  Whether  it  was  cartoons,   KRUURU¿OPVVWULSVKRZVRUPDUWLDODUWVPRYLHVWKH cinema  was  able  to  weather  the  birth  of  television  by   remaining  flexible  and  by  collaborating  with  its   patrons  to  accommodate  their  changing  tastes.   It   was   with   this   ethos   in   1977   that   the   Rio   Cinema   Working  Party  planned  to  develop  the  Rio,  as  it  had   finally  come  to  be  called,  into  a  fully  fledged   community  arts  centre,  expanding  its  cinematic   endeavours  to  include  video  art  and  photography.  

Dalston Rio Cinema by M. Wray

Art Deco landmark lends its historical elegance to this trendy London neighborhood The  Rio’s  location  some  four  miles  east  of  London’s   FHQWUHSURYHGEHQHÂżFLDOIRUWKHH[SDQVLRQRIWKRVH artistic  scenes  that  were  under-­represented  or  ignored   at  that  time  by  the  more  established  creative   community   found   in   Soho.Awarded   an   English   Heritage  Grade  II  listing  after  a  major  refurbishment   in   1999,   the   Rio’s   present   day   incarnation   has   the   added  advantage  of  a  redesigned  cafĂŠ,  stocking  a   wide  assortment  of  food  and  beverages,  ranging  from   Monmouth  Coffee  to  samosas,  and  heightened   acoustics   compliments   of   Dolby   Digital   surround   sound.   While  most  of  Dalston’s  twentieth-­century  art  houses   have  now  shuttered,  the  Rio  continues  to  flex  its   muscles  under  the  loving  care  of  a  board  comprised  of   elected  locals.  The  cinema  focuses  its  program  on  one   PDLQÂżOPDZHHNUDQJLQJIURPDUWV\LQGLHVWREORFN-­ busters   with   a   conscience.  This   arrangement   allows   for  ample  space  within  its  diary  for  niche  interests  to   be   explored:   “classic   matineesâ€?   are   shown   monthly   RQWKHÂżUVWRUVHFRQG:HGQHVGD\FXOWIDYRXULWHVDUH VKRZQIUHTXHQWO\DWPLGQLJKWDQG'ÂżOPVDUHVKRZQ at  no  extra  charge.   1XPHURXV ÂżOP IHVWLYDOV DQG VSHFLDO HYHQWV VXFK DV WKHDQQXDO7XUNLVKDQG.XUGLVKÂżOPIHVWLYDOVFDQEH found  on  the  Rio’s  schedule,  as  well  as  Q&As  with   local  talents  turned  big  league,  and  evenings  curated   by  local  curatorial  team  ‘At  Home  with  the  Ludskis’.   It  seems  that  the  original  owners  had  it  right  all  along,   and  the  Rio  is  still  as  classic  as  classics  come.  §

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