Allocated seating: Anxiety at the Cinema

The Vue cinema has changed it’s policy on seating recently, in that they now give you a seat number to sit down in. I kinda get why they’re doing it, it’s something to do with people buying tickets online, but I miss the free and easy “sit wherever you want” system.


When I saw World War Z, at the Odeon, the place was packed and I was with a fairly big group, so having reserved seats was cool because it meant we could all sit together. But when I saw Pacific Rim earlier in the week it was a mid-afternoon showing and there were about a dozen people in a screen that can sit about 80 people. So allocated season wasn’t really needed.

With half the audience crammed into two rows it just felt pretty dumb, especially as the seats a few rows forward cost the same to sit in. But, and maybe this is just me, I feel I should sit in my spot, or as close as possible (more on that later) because the chances are if I sit somewhere else it’ll be in a seat someone else has and I’ll look like a mug when I have to move. Also, it says on my ticket, and I kind of think if you have an assigned seat you should use it.

The other problem is that the staff at the Vue, who are pretty decent, failed to use any common sense. I walked into the cinema and there were about 8 people already in there, kinda spaced out a little but mainly concentrated up towards the back of the room, because those are the best seats.

I made my way to my seat and counted in to number 6. There was a dude in number 7. Now, if he wasn’t in his proper seat it’s not the Vue’s fault but if he was, then this was a major faux pas on their part.

We’d bought our tickets separately for what was a fairly empty showing. Why the hell put us sitting right next to each other.

I hate sitting next to strangers. You feel awkward, you can’t slob out as much or adopt the Conan pose that I quite like in the cinema, arms on the rests, legs apart, shifting to lean on my hand occasionally.

The Conan pose- Scantily clad harem members not included

The Conan pose- Scantily clad harem members not included

Also, you run the risk of sitting next to a cruncher, annoying laugher or worse, texter. Seriously, in Page’s Britain anyone who texts after the trailers have started will have their thumbs broken.

So, I had a dilemma, my seat was clearly number 6, but I didn’t want to sit there. Well, I thought to myself- I am not a number, I am a free man. And so I sat down in number 4. This gave me space on either side and should have meant I was more relaxed, but it just meant that every time another customer came in I’d sit there panic striken that they were the rightful owner of seat 4, and I’d have to sheepishly move up to number 6 and fret that Mr 7 would spend the whole film worrying if he smelt or looked like a serial killer or something. I couldn’t just say “sorry, I don’t like sitting next to strangers” could I?

Luckily, nobody else was in our row although there was one latecomer who strolled in after the lights had dimmed. Now, working out your seat is fairly simple, the front row is A and you just follow the alphabet up the stairs. Also, just have a look at the first free number and you can get an idea of how the seats are set out.

So, after a few seconds dithering Johnny Come Lately cut across the front and went up the far stairs. He was still scanning the row lettering and I wondered if he had any clue what he was doing.

He did not.

He walked right up to the back row, one behind me and looked at a seat number. Then he proceeded to cross the row, making the people already seated move. There were two couples in the back row, with a single seat operating as a neutral zone behind them (how come they get a buffer zone?). For a brief, terrible second I thought he was going to be sandwiched by the couples, which would be extremely awkward for the dude, but no he passed the second couple too and then sat almost right behind me.

Three seats in from the aisle. Moron.

This is another problem with the allocated seating, like me you’re going to feel obliged to follow it and if you’re a muppet like this guy was, you’re going to make a nuisance of himself. In pre-assigned days he’d have strolled in late and grabbed the first empty seat that took his fancy.

So, yeah, Vue, sort it out.

Before I sign off on what may have been a boring post for you, readers. Let me finish by discussing another of the customers in the cinema on Tuesday.

It has been boiling recently, Swansea, like most of the UK is currently experiencing a heatwave and it’s been stiflingly hot. Being hot and sweaty means frequent readjusting of clothing- loosening collars, extracting wedgies etc. This dude walked in wearing jeans and a polo shirt and on getting to his seat, right in front of Mr 7 proceeded to get comfortable.

Still standing he pulled his shirt off his sweaty back, fair enough, but instead of just giving it a flap he sort of lifted it, exposing his back and the side of his stomach to the other patrons.

Now, this was a minor inconvenience, but clearly there was some underwear bunching. I mean, we’ve all been there and I’ve slipped into the toilet cubicle to solve my discomfort within the last few days, but this dude obviously had a bad wedgie going on, or some kind of itch, and needed to fix this underwear problem.

If it had been a waistline thing, fair enough, but this was clearly deeper down. And so the guy, still standing before most of the audience, reached down the back of his jeans for a scratch. And not just a quick little stopping the itch scratch, but a good long scratch, the sort you’d usually only perform when home alone.

But the worst part of it was that it was quite a way down his ass and he went into his pants BEYOND THE WRIST! Dude! That just ain’t right.

Of course, the rest of the audience watched this with disgusted amusement and there was the unmistakable sound of people trying to control their sniggering. Myself and number 7 were both trying to hold it in and avoided making any kind of eye contact knowing this would lead to an explosive case of the giggles.

What the hell is wrong with people? This isn’t fussy etiquette stuff, this is basic manners- don’t scratch your arse right in front of strangers, you disgusting little man!

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


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