Monday, 21 November 2011
Ritzy Cinema - Brixton SW2
I have been feeling a lot of Brixton love recently and realised that I had not written about one of the things I love most in Brixton, the Ritzy Cinema. The Ritzy has been there on the corner of Coldharbour Lane and Brixton High Street since 1911 (at which time it was called The Electric Pavilion and showed silent films), but was reinvented as an art house cinema, after a brief closure, back in the late 1970's. I love the fact that the Ritzy has watched the evolution of Brixton - when it was built Brixton was still a relatively prosperous middle-class suburb, probably still proud of the fact that Electric Avenue (close to the Ritzy) was the first street in London to be lit by electricity 30 years before. The Ritzy managed to survive both the heavy bombing during the blitz and the all-engulfing riots of 1981. It has witnessed the transformation of Brixton, due to the post WW2 immigration from the West Indies, into one of the most vibrant and interesting areas of London (to see what I mean, take a walk down the afore-mentioned Electric Avenue and through Brixton Market and into Brixton Village Market one weekend - then finish up with a burger at Honest Burgers and maybe a movie at the Ritzy). The Ritzy was cool before Brixton became cool, it pre-dates the clubs, the bars, the restaurants, the funky market stalls and it remains as always, one of the centrepieces of Brixton. Since they scrubbed up Windrush Square, this little precinct looks great - in particular the vista from the Ritzy, past the square, St Matthew's church looming in the background, finishing up at the imposing Town Hall. My introduction to the Ritzy came as a result of living in Streatham Hill when I first arrived in London in 1999. I have always loved art house cinemas and during that crazy 6 months, when I was often feeling a little fragile after dancing the night away at Escape from Samsara at The Fridge club across the road (some of you will be nodding and saying "oh yeah" right now), a movie at the Ritzy was a real treat. I have tried to get back there at least a couple of times a year and each time I do, I am struck by how great it is and encouraged that something as cool as this survives and (hopefully) thrives. There is so much to see and do in Brixton - if you are a dyed-in-the-wool North Londoner I can recommend a trip and when you do, make sure the Ritzy is on your itinerary.