Mayan Civilization

I have a memory of going to see Carrie, second run, at the Mayan Theatre in the late ’70s. I think it was a fifty-cent movie night, and I remember sitting there with the salt of the earth in the steep balcony's ripped, broken, red-plush seats that were sticky with gum while Sissy Spacek wreaked her revenge on those mean girls and kids screamed and cigarettes burned. The paint on the splendid deco walls was peeling and the floors were permanently gooey; it was truly the peanut gallery of a bygone time in cinema-going that we'll never see again. Only a few short years later, the Mayan, perched at 110 Broadway in all its broken majesty, faced demolition...to a public uproar that saved its retro hide.

We're so glad that demo never happened, as it did to the Aladdin and other Denver movie palaces. The Mayan, returned to its former movie-palace glory by Landmark Theatres, turns eighty this week, and as the chain's city manager, Dave Kimball, notes, “Landmark has been very good to the Mayan. “Eighty years ago this week it was built, and there have been so many great films here over the years,” he continues. “But it's also been through some rocky times, too, and then it was saved by the community. Many friendships have been formed here, wedding proposals have been made here, and weddings have even been performed. So much has happened in these walls – and you can throw in a few spirits here and there, too.”

To celebrate the theater's history and its new life as a contemporary art-film venue, the public is invited to tonight's Mayan Theatre 80th Anniversary Party, which begins with a pre-party with drink specials at 6 p.m. The main event will be a screening of The Wizard of Oz, but not before a string of dedications and festivities, including a costume contest and live music by jazz/blues vocalist Jesse Garland. Afterward, the party moves across the street to the Hornet, where ticket-holders will be offered deals.

The cost? A quarter, just like in the old days. If you come in costume, it's free. For crying out loud, bring the family. For advance tickets, call 303-744-6799 or visit www.landmarktheatres.com/market/denver/mayantheatre.htm.
Tue., Nov. 30, 6-11 p.m., 2010

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Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd