Dana Mladin
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The ruins of seaside fun

I’m nostalgic, I admit. Maybe that’s why I suffer when I see that some places, some things, some people are all dust in the wind…

I rediscovered the Black Sea coast thanks to some job related trips. I haven’t been to our seaside, to stay there as a tourist, for decades! Even I can’t believe it when I write this, but that’s the truth: I haven’t been here for decades.

For me, the gondola in Mamaia is a novelty, as well as the area of clubs or the beach invaded by terraces, shops and hotels. Not to mention the resorts already glued together by so many  construction.

In Mamaia left in ruins – because there are plenty of areas like this – where I had the feeling that I was going back in time, something hit me hard.


I could say that I was a part of the life of this Theater too.

Many years ago I knew his smell, I could feel his vibe, I knew his backstage.

I was an editor several times at the Mamaia National Festival of Pop Music, working with the famous producer Titus Munteanu and a super cool team of the Public Television.

Once we moved the “camp” to Mamaia, we used to stay day and night to set up details, to organize, to make plans and timelines.

During the day, famous singers and composers of the time got on the stage of the Summer Theater to rehearse, regardless of whether they participated in the Debut, Creation or Hit Section.

the producer Titus Munteanu, during a rehearsal of a… formidable trio: Daniel Iordachioaie, Adrian Enache and Aurelian Temisan
the composers Cornel Fugaru, Ion Cristinoiu, Marius Teicu and Dan Dimitriu
Titus Munteanu and Angela Similea

In addition to my work as an editor, the 1995 edition of the Festival had me as a host.

The host of a show in which we had all entered with enthusiasm, but shy, and which had turned into a phenomenon: Scoala Vedetelor – The Stars’ School.

We had been preparing since Bucharest for this first direct contact with the public and here we were trying the floor of the stage, its width and length, we were testing the stairs, the speakers, and even the descent into the audience.

I remember spending days rehearsing in the sun. The bet won on TV a few months ago had to be won on stage too, in front of the public.

Success had not gone to our heads, but it had made us responsible, eager to prove that we were good.

As a host, I used to try to build my texts in such a way as to be able to say them freely and I was looking for unique presentation solutions – for one of the moments I climbed like crazy the highest wall of the theater…

I don’t know what was on the mind of each of us about how the show will be, but clearly the expectations were far exceeded!

We heard cheers after each song, we saw spectators dancing, we heard them singing, we received the first frantic applause! On top of that, people laughed at some things I said, although now, when I see the intros again and hear my texts and stuttering, God, I can’t believe it J)).

For us, those from the Stars’ School, this Summer Theater will always be the place where we got our wings!

(We had another cool recital at the Festival, in 1996, when we were already more “riped”.)


I, for one, returned to the stage of this theater also at the Mamaia Pop Music Festival, this time in 2000, together with the host Dan Negru.

I was still young, thin and wearing makeup, so those were my good times hihi.

DanDanaua of theFestival (the hubbub) had that Dopo Festival been called, to bear a name appropriate for both the content and the two hosts…

In the middle of the night, singers, composers, organizers, journalists, directors, fans gathered in the Summer Theater (both on stage and in the audience). Accusations, praises, analyzes, calculations were thrown into the arena. Well, mostly accusations…

The theater came to life through these Dandanale. And we would have stayed until the morning if the scene needn’t been rearranged, and we didn’t have to be fresh the next day, for another contest night.

This music festival in Mamaia has always been the moment of glory of the Theater, of the resort itself. But the stage was always full here, with many summer shows, no matter if they were a mixture of humor and music, shows for children, recitals of folk music or the so-called “şușe” (a doubtable quality show), to which all Romanians used to go when they were on vacation.


I have heard that for some time the Theater had been closed and abandoned.

I don’t know when they closed it, I don’t know why they did it. But the nostalgia of the past pushed me to go to his area now, in the summer of 2021.

I always made my way to the theater through a communist shopping complex. A labyrinth full of life, where you came to get yet another beach dress, a swimming coil, something to eat.

This is what it looked like after the Revolution, as we knew it from our childhood. An area without great pretense, where you would come wearing a bathing suit and slippers and buy one thing or another.

Now, however, the area is A RUIN!

Few things remained standing. Most commercial spaces are abandoned. One or two stores with products seemingly forgotten there by time are waiting for their customers.

On the first floor of the complex, it seems that a family has even moved in, considering the  clothes left out to dry and the gypsy music that ensures the good mood of those living there…

Among the neglected groves and stone swans from the last millennium, I arrive at the Summer Theater, witness to so many “performances” of Romanian artists of all categories.

Suddenly, all my memories invaded…

And, once I got to it, I admit that I felt like a pain in my stomach. Had I not been salty from the swimming in the sea, I’d most certainly become bitter from what I see here.

A ruin! I don’t know how else to call this. A simply abandoned theater, left in ruins, a center of entertainment on the seaside, completely buried.

The architecture of the Theater shows all the decay between the walls that are still left standing. The vegetation has grown among broken stones, the supporting cables no longer exist at all, and the small balconies where the lights were installed are on the verge of collapse.

I go to the entrance. Peeling walls are not even attractive for good quality graffiti.

Santa’s sleigh is here, you know. In case you still want gifts this year, it would be good to get some money and send it to a service.

The iron fence is fenced, which makes it impossible for me to enter.

 “Hello” – I say through the fence, seeing the shadow of a man.


“Hellooo” – I raise my voice a little, to convince myself that I did not see a ghost of the past, but the guard of the location.

It is clear that the man has never been bothered by anyone and I ruin his feng shui… He turns slowly towards me, without approaching, a sign that he will abandon me immediately, no matter what I tell him.

I tell him that I want to take a photo of the theater, for the sake of the past. “I can’t let you – he answers me kindly. You must have the approval of the Local Council”. No shit!

He politely invites me to take pictures of the Theater from the outside. Well, of course, they cannot do anything to me there, because it’s a public domain.

That’s what the facade looks like. On the frontispiece, the writing “The Palace of Festivals Mamaia” is barely distinguishable. “The Dust of Mamaia Festivals” I think would be more appropriate…

The current appearance of the complex arouses my curiosity (and pain) and I begin to explore every side, every nook and cranny.

Between the walls I see the chairs in the audience, over which some old pieces of iron are thrown, once decorative elements.

Barbed wire is placed on the balconies, so that no one can get inside. That’s their concern, although if I look around, I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up with a snake or a rat…

I manage to see a piece of the stage, which upsets me, because it awakens so many memories. Now it lies in misery, full of metal or wooden structures, elements that, in the past, built the glory of this place.

Thistles grew near the pit. And dry grass is everywhere.

God, what a sensation! I get goose bumps!

I am leaving. I am bitter, I admit.

I’m going to the Constanta Casino, because I understand that at least there the restauration work has finally started…

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