Rio Cinema, London / by Alastair Wiper

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The Rio on Kingsland High Street in Dalston is one of the few remaining "real" cinemas in England. Fiercely independent, its one screen shows a selection of art-house movies and documentaries, as well as a few of the better quality blockbusters. The cinema was conceived as the "Kingsland Palace" in 1909 by Clara Ludski, who, seeing the potential of cinema, employed an architect to turn her auction shop into a movie theatre. The cinema was a huge success, and after changing hands (and names) a few times was fully refurbished in an art deco style as "The Classic" in 1937. The basic design of the cinema today is almost untouched since then.

As television became more popular, the popularity of cinemas went into decline and the Rio changed hands, and names, a few more times, before turning into a porno theatre and strip club called "The Tatler" in the 1970's - albeit one that had a break to show horror movies on Friday nights. Another attempt was made in the 70's to pump life back into the cinema, and it relaunched as the "Rio" in 1976 and was shortly after bought by the council and turned into a community arts center. By the mid 90's the Rio was in dire need of a refurbishment, and this was carried out to restore it to its 1937 glory. The Rio reopened in 1999 and was awarded Grade II listed status by English Heritage.

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