Nestled in the heart of the Glenferrie Road shopping precinct and a mere stone’s throw away from the Glenferrie Train Station, an icon of Melbourne’s social and cultural history shines brilliantly, though modestly. This “eccentric maze of spaces”, otherwise known as the Lido Cinemas, welcomes and invites locals and non-locals alike to discover its over 100-year-old rich artistic-and-entertainment-woven tapestry housed in a rather unassuming location. Lido Cinemas is a seamless piece of the surrounding streetscape puzzle, so much so that one could potentially pass it numerous times without registering a pulse of awareness. Make no mistake, however. Once inside, it becomes quickly and overwhelmingly obvious that the Lido is one of a kind, unique in its presentation and ambience, a sparkling jewel in Melbourne’s design and entertainment crown.

The current site originally housed the Glenferrie Theatre, which was founded in 1912, relatively early in the city of Melbourne’s development. Since then, the location has undergone many and varied phases. Upon the Glenferrie Theatre closing its doors, the space has housed a dance hall, a pre-Lido cinema, dance studios, music rooms, a dinner theatre, the eponymous Lido Cabaret and Restaurant, even a mini-golf complex! Unbelievably, upon the cabaret-restaurant calling it quits, this sacred site then sat empty for over a decade. How? Why? Who knows? Some mysteries are not meant to be solved. Flash to 2013, the year that Eddie and Lindy Tamir bought the building and made it their mission to revive this “great dame” and bring her back to the glory of old.

During a painfully delicate renovation, the Tamirs were determined to retain the space’s original design features. These design features include revitalising the foyer’s terrazzo floor and carefully and successfully restoring the decorative plaster ceilings throughout the Lido’s eight indoor cinemas – yes, eight indoor cinemas. These eight indoor cinemas are joined, as well, by a rooftop version, perfect for those warm and balmy summer evenings. Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, Lido on the Roof will host a re-opening gala in early November. The Tamirs’ vision, hard work, unrelenting spirit and attention to detail have resulted in a genuinely magical gift to the public, a gift that has the potential to be passed on from generation to generation.

The Lido, Hawthorn

The Lido, Hawthorn

The Lido, Hawthorn

Not surprisingly, film is the foundation upon which the Lido is built. Its offerings include a healthy serve of art-house creations, first and foremost, as well as classic, contemporary, family and foreign pictures. There is a Lido Movie Club membership available to both the diehard and casual cinephile. The membership includes reduced ticket prices – the pinnacle of which is $8 tickets every Cheap Tuesday - special access to advanced screenings and a discount on Lido At Home, the cinema’s new streaming platform. 2020, for good or bad, has given birth to the idea of “business model pivoting”. Lido At Home is just that, a pivot which has successfully allowed the business to continue trading while the physical experience of attending a film is currently on hold. As well, At Home provides patrons with the opportunity to stay connected by inviting the spirit of Lido into their living rooms. Movie Club membership entitles members to 50% off the monthly film selections and a convenient means to feed their cinematic hunger.

In the event that Lido Cinemas’ focus on all things film, including film festivals – the Children’s International Film Festival, the Jewish International Film Festival and “Babs” Fest, to name but a few – and a public discussion platform entitled Reel Talk, fall short of lighting a person’s wicks of curiosity and motivation, there are available other non-film-related endeavours to keep even the most discerning of cultural palates interested and engaged. The Lido boasts the Jazz Room, an ‘80s Manhattan-esque venue offering live music every Friday and Saturday nights and including an in-house piano and drum kit. If comedy seals your deal, Lido Comedy provides a platform on which local acts can tickle your funny bone. The comedy nights are held in the Jazz Room, as well.

Do yourself a favour and make Lido Cinemas a part of your life. If you are a local, there is no excuse not to. If you are not a local, well, there is still no excuse not to. It is one of those rare places and spaces that is simultaneously nourishing to your body, to your mind and to your spirit. The Lido Cinemas is an institution, well and truly, a place where fond memories flourish and return custom is the norm. The Lido is an experience which bridges Melbourne’s cultural and social past with its equivalent present.

Lifestyle & Design

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