- Arts & Literature
- Science & Technology
By Abbas Panjwani
By Laura Simmons
Art Deco enthusiasts can now say “I do” in a cinema which predates Gone with the Wind.
The Regal on Cowley Road, which had been a popular clubbing destination since 2008, was let to a local church last November.
It has now obtained a licence to carry out weddings.
The Christian Life Centre (CLC) has been holding services there since it acquired the site. It still holds some live gigs, as well as other community events such as dance lessons.
The marriage licence is just a further step in the move of the CLC from their previous premises, also on Cowley Road.
The CLC announced their move on their website: “We believe God has centred us in the heart of Oxford and [we’re] excited to see what he has instore [sic] for us.”
The change of occupants caused uproar among students last year, with many mourning what they called the only “proper” night club in Oxford.
Alex Body, a third-year lawyer, remembers the club fondly: “The vault- ed ceilings and huge dance floor gave it an open feeling which was a pretty welcome relief from the sweaty com- pression of the city centre clubs. Drinks were cheap (especially pitchers) and the clientele were less exclusively Oxford Uni students.
“I personally find it difficult to understand how the Regal could survive such a seminal shift from youthful licence to stolid respectability,” he added.
When asked what she thought it would be like to get married there, second-year music student Anna Kaznowska said: “It would feel very East Oxford and hobo and not cool. It was a pretty grotty club.”
The building hasn’t always been this way. When it was built it was hailed as a sign of the prosperity of East Oxford, and its style was lavish.
Since its construction in the 1930s, the building at 300 Cowley Road has changed role many times. Initially a sumptuously decorated cinema, it started holding “Bingo days” in the 1960s to maintain the wavering cinema audiences.
By 1970, film screenings had com- pletely ceased and the Regal was re- named the Gala Bingo Hall. It remained under that name until 2004, by which time it was for the large part derelict.
It was named a Grade II listed build- ing in 2004 and underwent a complete renovation, opening in 2008 as an entertainment venue which both celebrated its Art Deco origins and catered to all the needs of a modern live music venue.
The Regal gradually turned to the clubbing scene, with the popular Varsity night Warehouse attracting students from Oxford and Brookes alike every Friday.
The CLC was unavailable for comment.