I got "into" photography by taking a dark room class about 4+ years ago. I loved the smell of developer, and stop, and fix. I loved the magic of watching my image appear on the paper. I even found the seemingly endless dodging, burning, cropping, etc. appealing. There was a certain sense of awe that "layman" had for those of us who could take a can of exposed film into a closet and emerge with an 11x14 print.
The advent of digital and the electronic darkroom (Photoshop, Paintshop Pro, Gimp, and the like) have made it easier, not to mention more convenient, for anyone with a computer to take and print their own work, albeit with varying degress of quality.
The dark room I used at Showcase
here in Atlanta, has closed. They no longer rent out the space. It is gone. Film seems to now be more in the realm of folks who either can't afford to go digital or are intimidated by the technology, and some hard-core pros.
I just shot a roll of b+w with my Holga over the weekend for sh*ts and giggles. I was going to go to Showcase to develop the film and do a contact sheet. I'm going to have to find another alternative (maybe develop the film at home and scan the negs).
Poor film...glad I made the digital switch!