RKO Proctor's Theatre
The first time I went to Proctor's Theatre, I wasn't fully prepared for how much the day would be a pivotal turning point for me. I had been to other theatre's before, but never really cared for them. They were rather small, dark and muggy. The carpets always seemed to retain a centuries worth of B.O. and my poor vision and lack of coordination almost always meant I would be fumbling around in the dark, dropping my camera 20 times before eventually becoming frustrating and giving up. This time, however, was different.
I'm not really sure how this day came to be, but I was asked if I could pick another girl up from somewhere in Newark to join us. Apparently, she was in visiting from Idaho, which I found fascinating, and needed a ride from the hotel or the airport or something, I can't quite remember. I just remember being this girl not being what I had expected someone from Idaho to look like. Looking back, what the hell did I think she would look like? Was I expecting her to be wearing denim overalls and smoking a corncob pipe? That's all beside the point, as the initial awkwardness wore off and we became fast friends.
The approach to the theatre was also one of those "are you joking?" type moments. Step one, walk down the streets of Newark. Okay, done. Step two, push open this random, unassuming door as hard as you can, but not too hard as to fall into the pit of doom that awaits you on the other side. Uh, okay.. done. We carefully shuffle our way inside, perching like drunk pigeons on the interior ledge of this building that spared us a few mere inches of room to place our feet. We slam the door shut and let out a sigh of relief as we plan our next move.
After making our way through the labyrinth of rubble and garbage, I was pleasantly surprised upon entering the main auditorium. The rear windows allowed beams of light to cut through the darkness and highlighting the stage and surrounding plasterwork. The upper auditorium had full windows, and everything was completely visible, including a series of thin blue drapes with clouds on them that I was particularly fond of.
No adventure is ever complete without a visit to the roof of course, so we made our way up there and poked around for a while, exploring the decrepit catwalks located behind the signs and the extravagant system of ropes and pulleys. I was fortunate enough to be able to make a return visit several years later, however at this point, the popcorn machine was now missing and the cloud drapes had seen better days. I'd say that there are plenty more years to come to revisit this location, but with the way things have been going, I'll hold my tongue.