Last night, I went to the National Theatre planning to see the ballet Don Kishoti (Don Quixote), but it was sold out, so I wandered down to the cinema a block off the main boulevard downtown. Part of a small European chain called ABC Kino, the cinema reminded me of those independent houses you used to find in college towns…small, quaint, comfortable…more like a private club with its own single screen. According to the map, there’s a sister ABC a few blocks further north.
Ticket price was the same as anything at the National–3 euros (about $4 US)–and go was at 8:00. About 30 people were sprinkled through a house that easily sat 300; most looked to be university students, all smartly dressed in various shades of black. The film was This Means War, which was ridiculous and embarrassing in its Hollywood depiction of America but still curiously enjoyable for its eye candy and the fact that I was warm and listening to colloquial English. (Subtitles in Shqip–Albanian–ran underneath.)
As with every place I’ve been, there were far too many staff for far too few patrons–a subtle but constant reminder of the high unemployment rate (somewhere over 40%). Yet, whether it’s at the local cafeteria or laundry, there is a sense of dignity…for having a job…and doing it well. Nobility wears a blue collar here.