chapter  9
17 Pages

A Thousand and One Troubles: Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Such claims , taken from a 1981 publicity leaflet, are typical of the way Blackpool Pleasure Beach represents itself, and has always represented itself - as offering the biggest, the best, the only one of its kind, the unique, the latest, the most up-to-the-minute range of thrills, spill s and popular entertainment. It is always one step ahead, always changing - "The Pleasure Beach is never static ' - constantly ' in search of new rides which will appeal to the Blackpool public ', unrivalled even its claims to be unrivalled (Palmer 1981) . Although in its name pleasure struts forth in an unusually brazen way, the Pleasure Beach is neatly deck ed out in the clothes of modernity. Not only in publicity handouts, but in the names, themes, design and layout of the principal ride s and in its architecture, pleasure at the Pleasure Beach is rigorously constructed unde r the signs of modernity, progress, the future, America. Its face is the bold face of the new. Operating on the threshold between the present and the future, the Plea sure Beach harnesses für our pleasure the technologies developed at the outer limits of progress ('Bright colours and geometric shapes reftect the use of glas s fibre and thermoplastics

in construction'); it anticipates the future in making advanced technologies apart of the here and now (its operating monorail is 'the first of its kind in Europe ' ). The past, with qualified exceptions, is as dead as a dodo. In this chapter I want to consider the different types of pleasure that are available at the Pleasure Beach, the ways they are organized and the signs under which they are coded for consumption. Taken together, these constitute a distinct ' regime of pleasure ' which occupies a special place in relation to the rest of Blackpool.