Cape Town's oldest cinema turns 70: What it looked like in 1949

2019-05-23 19:00 - Thinus Ferreira (additional copy by Marisa Crous)
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You're not a real Capetonian until you've watched a film at The Labia Theatre. Glass of wine in hand. 

The oldest independent, art-repertory movie cinema in South Africa has turned 70 years old. After its surprisingly successful 2014 Thundafund crowdfunding campaign to raise money for critical upgrades, it's now better and busier than ever. 

READ: The most beautiful streets of SA 

Operating since May 1949 as a movie theatre at 68 Orange Street in Gardens, the building that was opened by the Italian embassy as its ballroom and Countess Labia, a South African woman, as a ballroom for the staging of live performances in the late 1930s, has seen its exterior façade stay pretty much the same over decades although the ballroom was later converted into a theatre. 

Here it is, then and now:

1949

2019

Loyal moviegoers, tourists and international visitors continue to support the Labia Theatre run by Ludi and Ann Kraus who took it over in 1989 and is a national heritage building with 4 cinema screens – a 176 seater, a 95 seater, a 67 seater and an intimate 66 seater. 

The cinema that has maintained many of its old-world authentic features like the ticket booth and the sweets counter has a coffee bar with home-made delicacies, a chocolate bar serving sweets, chocolates and popcorn, an outside terrace and bar, along with some staff who’ve been there for decades. 

It truly is one of Cape Town's most charming spots. Here's to 70 more years - and beyond!

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