Drive-in dos and don’ts

The master's guide to drive-ins



It was unheard of for a young person to never go to the drive-in 50 years ago, but times have changed. As a result, many millennial Padawans were never properly trained in drive-in mastery. Thankfully, some people grew up with really cool parents, and these are the diamonds in the dust who will guide the newbies.

First of all, just because the movie starts at 9, that doesn’t mean you should show up at 8:55. Experienced drive-in patrons will always arrive early, for a number of reasons. First, you’ll have first pick at a parking spot, which is crucial. Second, this gives you plenty of time to mingle, bond and truly get the most out of your drive-in experience.

Drive-in veterans also demand the use of bug spray. In a state right off Lake Michigan, along with numerous large bodies of water sprinkled throughout the state, humidity breeds mosquitos. Mosquitos carry the West Nile virus. Mosquitos give you the West Nile virus. Then you get sick and die in a fiery pit of despair.

Laura Johnson, a Purdue University student, said, “Don’t take your shoes off unless you want mosquitoes to murder the bottoms of your feet.”

A topic of debate amongst drive-in regulars is the ethics behind bringing your own food and drink. Both sides have compelling arguments. Of course, concessions may be overpriced compared to a gas station or your homemade snacks, and frugality is a virtue. However, concession sales are the primary source of income for these businesses.

At least buy a Coke from the retro/trashy food stand because that’s how they make their profits,” said Jessica Levandoski, director of Bloomington’s Middle Coast Film Festival.

It’s also essential to keep in mind the unpredictability of Indiana weather. When a night in May could either be 50 degrees or 80 degrees, check that forecast — and know most drive-ins will screen rain or shine. Bring a blanket, bring a hoodie and be prepared for the occasional Indiana summer tornado.

Drive-ins have always been a hot spot for dates. “It’s more private, you know, with the neckin’ and all that stuff,” said Shlena Hattabaugh, the assistant manager of Wabash’s 13-24 Drive-In.

But, be forewarned, privacy can only go so far. Kamila Czebotar, a student at Indiana University, said, “Don’t make out with your date. It’s awkward for the people parked around you, and you pay money to go see the movie, not to mack with your date. Unless you’re into that, then .... I guess, go for it.”

Finally, some serious thought needs to go into the vehicle of choice. Drive-in masters strongly encourage a large vehicle with a reliable battery. During double features, be sure to start your car between films to recharge the battery. Brianna Susnak, a student at Indiana University, said, “Don’t leave your lights or AC running the whole time, because then your car dies and the staff isn’t happy when you ask them to jump it.”


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