La Paloma Theatre
471 South Coast Highway 101,
471 South Coast Highway 101,Encinitas, CA 92024
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In the late 1970s, when I was 16-years-old, I went to see the live performance of Elvin Bishop in concert at the La Paloma. “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” was his hit song that had been getting a lot of radio play. We, in fact, were invited to the party upstairs. A fair number of people were at the party, maybe 25 people, and most were standing and mingling. We watched the concert from a room that had a whole wall missing on one side, you might say. I think this was also the projection room. Sitting in that space, the view was of the stage (and from that vantage point, we also looked out, over the audience). When facing the stage, from this upstairs space, to the right was what I was told was an apartment. Partygoers were welcome in this very small apartment as well. It was definitely residential—not a public space at all. I have vague, visual-memory recall that there was only one small bedroom, but since it was so long ago (about 42 years!), I’m not sure if it truly was just a one-bedroom apartment—but that’s how I’m remembering it. There was a short wait (a line of 3 or 4 women) to use the one toilet, private bathroom. We also were able to walk out onto the roof, like it was an outdoor patio. I could tell the building was very old. It was in good condition, with nothing seeming to be particularly run-down. The La Paloma held extraordinary vintage charm! I enjoyed the music and I’d say a fun time was had by all that night. Actually, it’s one of my most favorite memories!
I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Would you like to gather more community support for this historic theater … perhaps keeping it from, one day, being the next one-screen theater to be torn down? To the Website owners: You may want to add button(s) to “click,” which would allow for the description of the theater and the comments, one at a time, to be shared on social media … or perhaps one “click” could simply share the whole page about the La Paloma Theater, description, comments and all. It’s common practice now, of course, for comments from various Websites to be shared on social media; Twitter and Facebook come to mind most readily. Best wishes to you, La Paloma!
The La Paloma theatre ran Mexican movies in the 1950’s and into the 1960’s. This beautiful old historic theatre STILL runs current movies; it’s really a treasure!
Here is a recent photo of the marquee: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cakeight/15316319866
Here’s a cool newspaper clipping showing all the movies playing in the general area back in 1975.
From this site: Valley Drive-In Blogspot
As part of a film studies class taken at El Camino High School in August 1990, I went on a field trip to La Paloma to see a movie (Disney’s “The Jungle Book”) and tour the theater. Some things I remember from the tour: viewing the dressing room that lies behind/beneath the stage, and walking up to the projection booth. The tour guide told our group that when the theater first opened a drunk man fell from the balcony and died, and that his ghost supposedly still haunts the place. Has anyone heard this story before? It may have been fabricated for the amusement of our little group of high school students.
I had a friend who was the “Crypt Keeper” for the theater in the 70’s and lived in the basement. His name is Mark Devries and was an artist at the Oracle Newspaper in the Haight. Where are you Mark? Miss your face. Susan
Here is a photo, circa early 1930s. A Laurel and Hardy film is playing, but the title of the film is not given:
Advertised at 471 First Street in 1979.
I drove by the theater the other day. They were showing “Children of Men”, which is a first run film, I believe. The theater looked to be in good shape.
The La Paloma was well known in the 70’s as a place to watch surf films. Here’s an article that gives a glimpse of the experience:
“First opened in 1928, La Paloma has been showing new and old surfing movies at least since the early ‘70s. The combination of the Spanish-style motif, ruddy drapes and carpet, old-fashioned balcony and the smell of popcorn mixed with coconut suntan oil, the ambience transports you back in time.
“Some radical paganism went on there,” said Scott Bass, a surfer who patronized La Paloma beginning with his teen years.
He recalled the voluptuous pleasure of watching movies while reclining on one of the massive sofas that once graced the side aisles. Various shenanigans â€" glass bottles rolling down the aisle, for instance â€" occurred while surf footage flickered on the screen. Today, the sofas are gone, replaced by proper theater seats.
“It’s one of those buildings that, man, if the walls could talk â€” “ said Bass, online editor for Surfer magazine.
the RHPS they do is the film, with performers as well. The website of the troupe that handles the perfoming side of things can be found at http://www.crazedimaginations.net
they also did a one-off of Monty Python and the Holy Grail last year. it was much cooler than i would have thought, and would gladly go again.
The La Paloma has been open almost continuously since its grand opening in 1928. Mary Pickford rode her bike to the premiere, all the way from Rancho Santa Fe where she lived with Douglas Fairbanks. Fairbanks Ranch south of Rancho is a ritzy, private community of oversized homes filled with oversized egos and bank accounts. The La Paloma closed in 1967 for several years of declining attendance and a conversion to Mexican films two nights a week. Two brothers reopened the theater in the heady days of 1968 and took out the seats and installed “beds” which were sort of two-person chaise lounges with a top that held your drinks and snacks. They finally gave it up and it closed again…only to re-open with regular theater seats. Last night my wife and I saw “Mrs. Henderson Presents” at the La-P, and can report that the sound system has at last been upgraded, so we can actually hear the dialogue. I started going to the La-P in 1955 and continued all through high school. Live acts seen there were Bo Diddley, The Tubes, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mtn. Boys and Dougie McLean from Ireland. It’s one of only two remaining single-screen theaters in San Diego County, a real tragedy as more go under the wrecking ball.
There are quite a few photos of the La Paloma at this site: http://www.cinematour.com/tour/us/1979.html
Here is a picture from the San Diego Historical Society:
Is the RHPS live or the film?
The La Paloma still operates as a movie theater most of the time. They have special live performances once or twice a month, but the rest of the time they show films with an arthouse bent. Here’s their website: