Opinion: 18-50’s Club Anarchy

Stuart Diggle gives us his thoughts on Blackpool’s annual Punk Festival, Rebellion.

The funniest thing i have heard of for a while took place on the Thursday night of the Rebellion festival outside the rear entrance to the Winter Gardens. A Romanian chap was playing his out of tune guitar very poorly indeed. With a sign saying how far he had come and that he hoped donations would pay for his ticket.

On hearing his racket, one more financially secure punter offered £20 to smash his guitar against a lamp post. The Romanian accepted the offer, as it was probably as much as he would tally over the full four days for his dulcet efforts, hence rendering his visit pointless.

The assailant in question proceeded with destructive act, only to see the body of the instrument then fly through the air and in turn, through Bella Italia’s restaurant window. Unfortunately for this guy, the local constabulary were on duty and he was lead away for his efforts. Did the Romanian get his £20? Still not found out, the eaterie’s insurance policy will no doubt cost the price of entry this time next year.

And so the annual Punk Rock event rolls into a much maligned and forlorn looking Blackpool. For some its money spinning event in the guise of Britains finest pieces of heritage, to others its a great opportunity to mix and match tastes and styles with like minded people. Look a bit deeper than the mohawks and studs and you will find bankers, civil servants and even the odd police man amongst the hippies and squatters.

So we come back to the age old question, what is punk? Its supposed to be Rebellion for most, but for me its just freedom of expression in any format. Either way, the festival brings something sorely missing from Blackpool. Apart from much needed income, the thousands who flock here are basically the new hippies. Never have i met so many friendly people on a daily basis. Happy to be amongst one another perhaps, and maybe because the friendly atmosphere spreads good will as quickly as the aggression we can see on UK streets on a weekly basis.

You would have to ask them, or perhaps simply ask the locals who feel the need to despair at the punk invasion due to their personal lack of interest in the subject matter. If only more locals from the arts based community would embrace such an event. Ok, they may think punk is some dumbed down version of their musical and artistic tastes, but the point is that the event works in Blackpool and brings some much needed refreshment to us on an annual basis.

With positive association, the rest of our town’s creative people can learn from this event and hopefully set something up of similar magnitude within the genre of their choice. A quarterly large scale musical festival like this every year can only be a good thing, surely? The Winter Gardens venue is perhaps not the best acoustically, but it can house 5 or 6 stages and make an indoor event work. Therefore, it does not matter what time of year it is.

Punks Not Dead
Punk’s Not Dead

In summary, with an alcohol fueled and in general an arrest free weekend, you wonder why the town doesn’t push for more positive events similar to this one. A indoor festival in British summertime is surely the way forwards for many reasons. Weekenders and day trippers behaving themselves in Blackpool? They will be dancing and urinating in the streets tonight… and to think some people at the council tried to have this event stopped a few years ago. Thankfully they have seen the light and allowed this most harmless of events to prevail and thrive.

So come on local acumen, get together and set up another arts and music event in with similar format. Punk’s not dead… its just very ill.

Images courtsey of CJGriffiths Photography.

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