Happy 75th birthday, Roxy

April 8, 2011

When The Roxy first opened to the public on Saturday March 28, 1936, the Bingara Advocate reported that “no event in the history of Bingara had caused more interest or excitement.” The paper provided a vivid description of the opening night horde “storming the streets” and noted that “long before opening time, it was impossible to wind one’s way through the crowd in front of the main entrance.”

This coming weekend will see history repeating itself as The Roxy celebrates its 75th Anniversary with the launch of the  refurbished café and preview of the site of the Roxy Museum that will be integrated into the venue. The Roxy was built by three partners from the island of Kythera, Greece.  Kythera lies on the southern tip of the Peloponnese.

Opening in 1936, The Roxy complex boasted an architecturally striking art deco cinema, café, three independent retail premises and a guest house.  The shared narrative of  The Roxy’s history exemplifies the Greek migration  experience:  one that made an outstanding contribution to the development of Australia.   It is therefore fitting that following the official launch of the café, a Gala Ball be held.

Bringing the glamour of the 1930’s back to Bingara, the Black Tie Gala Ball will be an unforgettable evening of Greek feasting and festivity.

In keeping with Greek tradition, the Gala Ball will be held outdoors.  Maitland St will be closed at Cunningham Street with a stage to be set up in the intersection which will become the dance floor.  Guests will be invited to share a sumptuous Greek feast that includes lamb and goats on spits, as well as the traditional desert baklava.  A troupe of Greek dancers in traditional costume will perform a range of Kytherian dances. 

Guests will be invited to join them in the dancing to be accompanied by Ha Va Le, one of the best Greek bands performing in Australia today.  Ha Va Le has promised to get everyone up on the dance floor with their motto:  Zorba till you drop.  The Greek community has embraced the forthcoming celebrations with well over 100 Kytherians booked to attend the Gala Ball. 

Roxy Manager, Sandy McNaughton, has been overwhelmed by the response of the Greek community. “Many Greeks are travelling from Sydney and Brisbane for the event, and even as from as far as Melbourne” she explained.

With so many travelling long distances, it is only fitting that another Greek tradition be upheld for the event.In true Greek style, plates will be smashed on the street during the dancing.  For those who have never had the experience of smashing plates, this is your big opportunity.

“While we are all looking forward to the launch of the café and the fabulous gala ball, we also have a fabulous line up of screenings over the two days” says Sandy. Paying homage to Hollywood’s Golden Age, a superb selection of screenings will light up the silver screen over the weekend. 

Highlights will include well-known actor John Wood presenting the television episode he filmed featuring The Roxy, as well as the first filmever screened at The Roxy opening in 1936.  Roberta, starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.  

A newsreel from 1936 that presents an overview of the year’s events will be screened entitled “A Year to Remember”, as well as cartoons from the period.  “The screenings will be a step back in time when going to the cinema was an event in itself” says Sandy. 

“Prior to the feature film being shown, newsreels, cartoons and serials were screened, so the weekend will present an opportunity to experience what it would have been like in those times.”“We are looking forward to a truly memorable weekend” says Sandy. 

“The Greeks really love a celebration so we hope that we will do justice to the original founders of  The Roxy and the extraordinary legacy they have left.”

Bookings for the weekend are available at the Bingara Tourist Information Centre tel:  (02) 6724 0066.