The magnificent Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens!
If the social function of art is to imagine a world different to the present one, isn’t there something artistic about the other world imagined at Blackpool Tower and Winter Gardens?
Clement Greenberg made the distinction between art and kitsch and I have no doubt that he would have classified these venues in the latter category. Surely, there is something escapist in any world imagined at a seaside resort. Once it would have been a very modern world. Today it is looking more like a world situated in a past time. And that nostalgia is probably a large part of its attraction.
It is well known that the tower, built between September 1891 and May 1894, was inspired by the (much larger) Eiffel Tower when the Mayor of Blackpool, John Bickerstaffe visited the Great Paris Exhibition in 1889.
It houses the Tower Circus and the Tower Ballroom. Dancing in the ballroom was the purpose of my recent visit.
Here, inside the ballroom, the tower is depicted on a tiled mural, as a prince among towers (all members of the World Federation of Great Towers).
The Winter Gardens is on more or less the same site. It is pictured here with the Tower behind it.
and here with the Tower behind me, as I took the snap
The Winter Gardens houses the Empress Ballroom, and it is even grander than the Tower Ballroom. It is magnificent, whether for competition dancing… or for social dancing…
and the Blackpool Sequence Dance Festival 2011 was an amazing event that included both. Here I could easily imagine a world in which harmony prevails, even during those little arguments and stepping on toes, that all dancing couples must experience from time to time.
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