Monday, February 22, 2010

The Pratuchai Theater - Lampang, Thailand

Psst! Do you want to know a secret? Lampang is a really great off-the-radar city in Thailand's upper north. In terms of urban infrastructure, it is far more sophisticated than both its larger neighbors of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. Walking its bustling streets, with its well maintained shop-houses and quaint markets is like a time warp to Thailand of the 1960's. But despite the retro feel, a youthful liveliness pervades Lampang's night hours. There's even a bit of indigenous hipsterism visible if you look in the right places.

I've never spent more than a day at a time in Lampang, but it's always a good escape from the doldrums of Chiang Mai. Shamefully, there are no longer any downtown escapes from reality in movie theater form there. All of them have been relegated to the annals of nostalgia - like the Pratuchai Theater, depicted below.

In its prime, the Pratuchai was one of Lampang's premiere entertainment spots for the city's youth. Aside from a movie theater, it also had a dance floor and roller skating rink circa the 1980's. Must have been the place to take your date if you lived there.

In the wake of showmanship - and make no mistake, theater ownership is nothing less than showmanship - the owner of the Pratuchai is now the Lampang distributor of Castrol Motor Oil. With his theater passed its cinematic days, he uses the auditorium to store cases of the flammable lubricant. Sounds like an insurance claim just waiting to be collected.

Faded lettering serves as a reminder

Enter if you dare!

The Pratuchai Theater was one of a handful of neighborhood movie theaters which once added life to downtown Lampang. Although the town center is now devoid of cinema options, a Thana Cineplex operates inside the Big C Super Center just off the 4 lane highway on the edge of town. As charmless as charmless can get.

The Pratuchai has been shuttered for 10 years now, but the free standing letters spelling out PRATUCHAI linger on as a reminder of the building's brighter past.

1 comment:

  1. At last,the theater at my hometown. ^^

    Here's a brief Pratuchai's history.

    AFAIK,Pratuchai theater was just almost as old as me (35 yrs).It had been first closed down once during early 80's(VHS syndrome,if I remembered it correctly),then reopened in 1990.On the first few years of its second life could be considered "heydays".Just about the right time to reopen it (economic boom,Hong Kong movies fleet invasion,kind of that)I still remember the day I watched TERMINATOR II here where the crowd overfill the lobby,then plumbing onto the street.Yes, it was such a successful years.

    Time went by,until economic crisis in 1997 wiped out lots of business from existence.Pratuchai could no longer handle it.Then it closed down its door in early 1998 and become just a thing of past,that's it.

    Personally,no need to tell that how much I missed this theater,its golden years,and my Hi-school life. : (