Secret Locations

They finally let me inside Madrid’s last porn cinema

4 December 2017

Curiosity often gets the better of me, but I like to think I’m prepared for what lurks behind the curtain. In 2015, however, I was forbidden to look. The moustached man inside the tiny ticket window told me:

Sorry love, this isn’t for you.”

As I tried my best to negotiate my way in, a few older gentlemen glided past me hollering casual greetings like longtime regulars.

“I won’t give up,” I thought to myself. “I’ll come back another time when there’s a different person at the ticket window.” So I took this photo and left, more determined than ever to get inside.

Cine X

Cine X

About a month later, Cine X closed. “Bugger,” I thought… I should have tried harder, or at least sent the other half. But then fast-forward two and a half years and this stunning building has been brought back to life as Sala Equis: a hipster cinema with overpriced drinks and a poorly thought out ‘mixed’ bathroom.

But, I finally got to see inside Madrid’s last porn cinema – and even better, they’ve barely changed a thing since the day it closed…

The mezzanine bar with its original tiled floor

The mezzanine bar with its original tiled floor

Inside the mezzanine bar

Inside the mezzanine bar

A cosy corner opposite the bar

A cosy corner opposite the bar

A very cosy nook, and that floor...

Another very cosy nook, and just look at that floor…

Upstairs inside the cinema

Upstairs inside the cinema

The new entrance to Sala Equis

The new entrance to Sala Equis

The new ticket window/bar

The new ticket window/bar

Downstairs in the old larger cinema

Downstairs in the old, larger cinema is now the main bar area

Clues of the building's former owners (pre-porn cinema): a wealthy Arab family

Clues of the building’s rumoured former owners (pre-porn cinema): a wealthy Arab family

The large bar area projecting vintage films

The large bar area projecting vintage films

Beautiful features from the building's era as Sala X

Beautiful features from the building’s golden era as Sala X

The old ticket window, no longer used

The old ticket window, which is no longer used

Cine X has been converted into Sala Equis with total respect for the building’s original art deco features and seedy heritage. Despite the soulless self-service system and severe inequality on the bathroom front (perhaps some things about this place will never change), Sala Equis has put this stunning Madrid institution back on the map.

If you’d like to see what it looked like during its days as a porn cinema, here’s a video from three years ago:

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