Slice of Life: Lux stood for 1994. That’s when it fell

Liesel Priem (David Harrison/M&G)

Liesel Priem (David Harrison/M&G)

The show would always start at 8pm, but my mom used to collect the ticket money so we would get to the theatre earlier.

In the cafeteria, people would be setting up the ticket box and we would watch everything come together. Everyone wanted a ticket to the Luxurama Theatre.

Inside the foyer, the lights were all on and it looked so beautiful because the walls were covered with mirrors.
Then you walked into the theatre. It was pitch black, but when the lights came on you’d see these velvet curtains hanging, covering the cinema screen. The seats were covered in velvet, too.

We used to stand backstage a lot. We never really enjoyed the show from the front because the crowd was too big. We just watched from the wings.

My dad and my mom loved music, and the musicians became huge to us as we grew up. As a teenager, I’d stand next to that very same person thinking “I listened to you as a kid”. Nuraan Boltman, the saxophonist, was one of those people to me. I loved jazz because of her. Then she came to the Lux to perform in a show by Zayn Adams and Taliep Petersen when I was 16. I was star-struck.

There were performers who demanded to only play for a mixed crowd. At the time, I didn’t know that these political things were going on. The owner of the Lux was arrested for playing banned movies.

What the Lux stood for was 1994 — to bring everyone together. And that was actually when the Luxurama fell, because no one looked after it.

There’s no power to the building anymore. The ceiling is broken and the place is a health risk.

No one took into consideration that this place is going to be destroyed if you don’t look after it. I spent 25 years of my life in there and the place is dead. Now, all I want is for the memories to be restored. — Liesel Priem (38), who is making a documentary about her childhood home, the Luxurama Theatre in Cape Town, as told to Ra’eesa Pather.

Ra'eesa Pather

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