Penrhyn Castle in north Wales. Another monument to the inequalities of an industrialised society.
We were stopping in a large caravan site during a weekend break and it invariably had an entertainment centre. These are like a microcosm of any high street in any large town – fast food outlets, amusement arcades and a sizeable venue for evening entertainment. And like any well managed tourist attraction where you have to pass through the gift shop to get to the attraction, so it is with these entertainment centres that you have to pass through the amusements to get to the hall with the live entertainment.
For me this is like some barbaric initiation rite where I have to run the gauntlet of deafening white noise, gaudy lights and negotiate the obstacles of somnambulist people who, presumably, failed the rite and as a result were doomed to spend eternity there.
On this particular weekend, a band was on that did tributes to sixties bands. They were comical and irreverent but maintained good musicianship. The crowd and myself enjoyed them hugely.
At one point in the show, the band wanted the audience to clap or wave their arms in unison to the music. Now I used to have an attitude of ‘you don’t seem to understand the deal I did at the door; I’m here to be entertained by you, so dance monkey boy and entertain me‘. On this occasion however, I had an insight into what was really happening.
The band were inviting the audience to participate in the fun. The division between entertainer and audience is an artificial one and a definition of television; this was live entertainment – interactive, inclusive. Most of us have forgotten how to participate at a large event. We watch television at home, isolated from everyone else. This live band were reminding us that this was not television, this was more fun, it’s a party to which we are invited.
How sad I reflected, that in our culture we have to wait until we are invited to participate. And so unused are we to participating, that the entertainer has to demonstrate to us, like a teacher instructing a simpleton, what to do in order to have fun.