chapter  5
29 Pages

On the town: pleasure and leisure in the nocturnal city

Studies of people’s routines suggest that, after sleep, more time per day is spent in leisure than any other non-work activity, including housework, caring or body maintenance. Moreover, after housing, spending on leisure is the single biggest financial outgoing for most households. Despite flexibil - ization in working hours, most of this leisure spend occurs at night, away from the routines of the ‘working day’. While one-third of this expenditure is on in-home entertainment, including watching TV and DVDs, surfing the Internet, playing computer games and listening to music, the majority of leisure spend occurs outside the home. Indeed, one of the characteristics of urban life is that the city provides a particularly dense concentration of public amuse - ments, including theatres, restaurants, clubs, pubs, cafés, parks and cinemas, and that these spaces provide the focus for rituals of night-life and leisure. While the popularity of these different spaces of night-life has waxed and waned, with a major shift towards ‘out of town’ leisure noted in the 1980s and 1990s (Watt 1998; Hubbard 2003), the city centre remains the principal focus of urban night-life, in many cases being aggressively marketed as an urban ‘playscape’ and an entertainment ‘hotspot’ as the evening economy has moved centre-stage in discourses of economic growth and revitalization (Chatterton and Hollands 2003).