Sunday, 28 August 2011


© Copyright Luke Edwards and licensed for reuse . See photo album on Flickr.
I went to see Blink in Margate last night, an open air event on the beach full of arty farty razzle dazzle and culminating in a sizzling firework display. It was Pan Optikum's finale of soaraway gymnastic feats where they flew above spinning sparklers, Catherine wheels and bursts of bright plumes of fire which left the best impression on me, which I'll admit was something special. Other elements of the event, such as Wayne McGregor's Random Dance troupe, were located in an odd place which meant I had to mingle around the beach to get a good view, which wasn't easy. As an observer, it was slightly challenging to watch, a bit avant-garde, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

Some people have been rather gushing in their praise, but to me, the mood amongst the crowd as they walked away seemed to be one of shrugged shoulders and general disappointment. Maybe it was too arty for some. Perhaps it was the poor layout which meant people couldn't get a decent view. I personally felt the event itself was OK, complimented by the impressively acrobatic and pyrotechnic-filled final performances by Pan Optikum and the eclectic soundscapes bursting out of the PA by Scanner, but the event didn't 100% flick my switch.

But why? Well, for me, the worst thing about Blink was some of the unsavoury people who went to it. You had a screaming rabble of delinquent kids barging and shoving past you, drunken slobs effing and blinding and, unsurprisingly, pram-pushers wheeling their crying newborn babies demanding you get out of their way by running over your toes.

Worse still, when I took the bus home, some lout who claimed he was “on a curfew” tried to start a fight with me. The bus was full, you see, with the driver telling everyone to wait for the next one. But this bloke insisted on trying to play the Good Samaritan by smuggling somebody else's kids onboard, lifting a buggy and gesturing for me to help lift it, but when I refused by pointing out there was no room on the bus, he started moaning at me for no reason whatsoever. I mean, how petty is that? Starting a fight over a pram? “If I see you again,” he said, “I'm gonna knock you out!”

Sigh. Even people who should be old enough to know better got shirty and shouted to the driver: “We've got kids, we should be on the bus! Tell everyone who hasn't got kids to get off the bus and make way for us!” This indignant sense of entitlement pisses me right off. I'm sure it's that sort of thinking which led to shops getting looted during the London riots. People of Cliftonville, you really should know better. Sort yourselves out. How can Thanet become the great cultural destination we want it to be when events like this get hijacked by loutish, uncivilised buffoons?

Overall, my impression of Blink was that the performance itself – or what little you could see of it – was quite entertaining and well choreographed. I'd like to say well done to all the Blink performers. They did a fantastic job and I did enjoy watching it from where I was standing. I just wish my memory of the event as a whole was more favourable. Perhaps I'd have enjoyed it more if I'd have been the only person in the crowd!

And needless to say, that's the last time I get a bus in Thanet. Never again!


  1. It was for that reason that I avoided the event, despite it being just a few minutes walk from my home. I try to avoid large crowds these days if at all possible...

    The fireworks etc looked good from my window though.

  2. How many people attended? they were boasting up to 10,000
    was it worth the £350,000 cost?

  3. We're not all like that in Cliftonville! Anyway, I agree about that sense of entitlement people have nowadays. It really is nauseating, and something that's permeated through to many sections of society, although most crassly expressed by the type of folks you encountered.

  4. Yeah, I reckon 10,000 people were there. It was very busy. That was the figure I heard speculated before and after the event, so I'd assume it must be right. As for the cost, well, I would've hoped that a £350k event like that would've lasted a bit longer...

  5. Having such fond memories of the performances at the Millenium Dome, and loving Cirque de Soleil, I went along to Blink in such a positive mood. I genuinely really wanted it to be a success.

    We arrived in Margate just before 9pm and thought the Harbour Arm would be a good place to get a great view of the performance. How wrong could we be. We saw the clocktower lit up and there were some illuminated bubbles on a white building which could have been near the arcades. Apart from that we just saw what looked like figures in the very far distance doing forward rolls. In fact it looked very similar to one of my old PE lessons at infants school. The fireworks were good, but I've seen better displays at Broadstairs.

    I am not sure how many people were on the Harbour Arm, but without doubt, everyone was really disappointed and some of the language unrepeatable. Why were we not warned there would be extremely limited viewing? Perhaps some large screens could have been put up so that everyone got to see what was happening apart from a small handful.

    Please say that the £350,000 cost was a misprint. If not, then I for one would like to see the Arts Council disbanded or held accountable for where it spends it's money.

    As said at the beginning, I so wanted the event to work. If you happened to be one of the lucky few then well done, but for the rest of us, it was the biggest flop ever.

  6. We went with 3 children, we decided that due to the amount of people that the Harbour Arm was the safest place to view this. We could barely see but to us this was the safest solution. As for your bus journey home lol I would never expect people to vacate seats for me or my children...if you decide to go out to a performance then nothing gives you the right to a seat home on public transport. Can I just defend the people of Cliftonville, me being one of them. Admittedly there are a lot of drunks here but not all of them come from Cliftonville. As my partner said the street was closed off so why couldnt they put tiered seating up for those that would like to view it safely. As for those rip off merchants that sell the lighted sword sticks etc I cant understand why one of the local shops didnt order a load in and sell them at a profit but not at mage inflated prices like the street vendors.

  7. To Anons 09:54 and 10:25 - In retrospect, I didn't mean to generalise about the people of Cliftonville. I myself used to live there and I turned out OK... I think! I even have friends who still live there, but my point is the bus I was on was going to Cliftonville, and most of the troublemakers - including the guy who started on me - got off there, so what can I say?! It is a bit of a hotspot with regard to anti-social behaviour, that's a fact, but I didn't mean to tar everybody with the same brush. But if you do live in Cliftonville, then I'm sure you know the sort of people I was referring to.

  8. All the arty investment in Margate is pointless if you have to wade through an army of sweaty, shaven-headed, pissheads and their socially bankrupt 'families' and deliberately taunted 'attack dogs' in order to enjoy any of it. Margate has fourth generation delinquents breeding now thanks to the Benefits culture and lack of inward investment for proper Job creation. The normal, hard-working, self-respecting man in the street has been socially marginalised by these pot-addled dullards..... shame on us all for tolerating it...

  9. To Anonymous 11:10

    I was shocked that anyone would take a dog to such an event bearing in mind there were fireworks.

    In all honesty I was expecting the Turner Centre to be used as a backdrop, a bit like when they do those fantastic lighting shows on Buckingham Palace. On the harbour we couldn't even hear any music. My neighbour was by the clocktower and didn't see a thing and neither did my son who was on a beach. For an event that was going to cost £350,000, despite using an army of volunters, surely some thought could have been given to ensure it could be seen by more than a few arty farty types who had inside information on where to stand.

    I just think Blink was a case of the Emperor's Clothes. Someone has been taken seriously for a ride here and a freedom of information request to see where the money went to should be revealing.

  10. I generally have to agree with the negative comments. We stood at the foot of the Turner Contemporary and could see nothing beyond the fireworks, a far cry from the advertising we were told would fill the beach-front.

    I'm not being negative for the sake of it, I really wanted it to be a magnificent event which would do Margate proud, it just wasn't. And the fact that a small number of people got the full effect (apparently the Sundowner area was a good place to be) ignores the fact that the majority of people were not there.

    Dunno, this does nothing to dispel the view that everything done in Margate is shoddy (there was no reason why there could not have been screens or the action projected on the side of the Turner - or whatever). £350,000 is a lot of money per person even if there were 10,000 people in attendance (which I doubt). I don't believe I saw £35 worth of entertainment/art/whatever.

  11. I find it apt that you reference the London riots in your Blink overview, as I feel Margate has been emulating London all year in its overtures towards becoming a cultural hub. Blink was - for me - an almost perfect mimicry of London with both grime (the offending people of the community) and glamour (the event itself, ignoring practicality over performance but ultimately offering an amazing show). I am only grateful that Margate has not yet mastered this mimicry; for although I love London, I don’t think I could bear to see the embarrassing, irritating, nauseating, puerile, ignorant behaviour of some of our locals mature into the full blown violence some parts of London are known for. What’s more, an event of this nature in London would cost considerably more, and still you would have to brush shoulders with questionable company.

    Many of you seem to have had unfortunate experiences, be it interactions with drunken louts or poor vantage points. For my part – I watched the show with my mother and younger sister – I found the view was fine from the beach, even if my sister had to watch the show from atop our shoulders. We came across no swearing, or drunken behaviour during the event - it seems the trouble derived mainly from after the event, in the struggle to get home. But wasn’t this to be expected, really? Anyone remotely social in the past ten years knows the state of public transport during the evening (it’s perfectly fine during the day, I can assure you), and of course some people drink when they go out at night. As for watching from the harbour arm; it was a free event, they had no obligation to notify you of the poor view from the harbour. You could have watched from the road or the beach; yes, you would have had to mix with the community, but you would have gotten a better view, and the atmosphere there (before the event ended) was actually rather exiting.

    Ultimately, it was a free event, and everyone is entitled to go. Yes, we can wish that people would behave better; but at least the night did not end in violence. Perhaps living in London has given me a certain perspective; if it helps me to appreciate Margate – inspiring, struggling, common, magical Margate - then I’m grateful for it.

  12. Sadly this is indicative of the whole country right now, morally and financially bankrupt.

  13. Anonymous 15:11

    Most people were on the Harbour Arm as they believed this would give a direct view of the performance. Believe me, all the crowds on the Harbour Arm were upset and would have been down on the beach if they had known this was the only place to view Blink. My young children would have preferred to stay at home but were promised that the 30 minute walk late at night would be worth it. I feel I let both my kids down with false promises about how spectacular Blink would be when all they ended up seeing was a few fireworks.

  14. Anon 15:11... well said, I'm amazed that anyone went to the harbour arm and expected to see anything or hear anything, especially with a band on at the Lighthouse bar... surely that was a give away? The placing of the stages and props was also a giveaway that where you needed to be to get the most from the experience.

    The comments regarding the cost... well I don't know how much or who paid, if it was arts council then fine, they spend it somewhere and I'd grateful they spent it here. Margate was alive last night and takings in all the shops, restaurants, pubs etc would have been much higher than a normal Saturday night.

    It seems that there is a percentage of people who just aren't happy no matter what, are they the same people who moan that Margate is dying and there is nothing to do?

  15. What I think is the biggest shame, Rob, is that since Blink managed to pull in a large proportion of people who seem quite antithetical to the Turner Contemporary and modern art in general I felt it would've been a perfect opportunity to have a spectacle which won over the cynics. The fact that so many people feel let down is a big shame because it means ill feeling amongst local residents about arty happenings such as this is unfortunately likely to continue. If ever there was a great chance to win over people, it was Blink.

  16. Dear 1 o'clock Rob

    " The placing of the stages and props was also a giveaway that where you needed to be to get the most from the experience."

    We arrived in Margate in the dark and couldn't see any stage or props until the act started. Having been to Margate in daylight and had a flask of coffee on the end of the harbour, we assumed from this point we'd get a good view of Blink. As for music on the harbour, this ended before Blink started.

  17. Spot on 15:11...

  18. Although I'd like to believe that it is possible to "win over" the "anti-TC" crowd I think Blink was never going to do it. Like I said some people in Thanet are never happy Luke, these are the people who just have to complain and whinge about things, the people who moan that they can only use one voucher at McDonalds, or that the centre of town has nothing in it when they've spent the last few years shopping at Westwood Cross.

    Let them get on with it, I'm pretty much up for anything that adds a bit of life to Margate... apart from a Tesco.

  19. I just don't get all the comments about "I couldn't see it" the papers, their website, the flyers - they all referred to margate beach! The Harbour arm and Turner Centre are not the beach, neither is the main road next to the beach.

    Get over yourselves with the constant negativity that you always bring to these events and the constant inability to see beyond how much things cost. Do you think the arts just appears for free? I bet if you enjoy an event you're not bothered how much it costs. just accept that there are people and companies that want to work in Thanet and Margate and receive them into the town.

    Opportunity for local people to get involved and be inspired to be part of things on such a big scale is brilliant. Get over yourselves.

    As for the event I was clever enough to pass the beach during the week and see very clearly that the event was ON THE BEACH so decided to get down with my wife and be in the middle of the beach ready for 8.30, anticipating the big crowds. We saw everything fine and had a great evening.
    Ironically, whilst the beach was busy, there was still room to move generally, and I think you could have got a few more on the beach.

    As for your quite narrow minded comments on pockets of Margate being where unsavoury people all come from, keep that to yourself Luke. I understand you followed up with not meaning to tar people with the same brush, but its comments like that that don't make you any better than that sort of behaviour. how can margate and areas of deprivation rise up and conquor social and economic deprivation when the rest of the town are set against them.

  20. I guess we can't "win over" the "anti-Tesco" crowd.

  21. I am the ANON @ 10.25. We went down to the beach on the day to view the stages etc. We spoke to one of the stage hands who explained what would be happening with dancers mingling with the crowds and stage performances. My children twins of 5 and son age 7 were excited to be staying up late to witness the performance.

    Approaching the event just after 8.45 we found that the beach was already full, as were the surrounding paths. There was no way that we could shoulder carry 3 children between us or safely stand right by the performance. My partner went to see if it was viable to stand on the beach alas he couldnt get past the beach hut. Dont get me wrong, from what we could see, it did look spectacular but in hindsight I wouldnt take young children again.

    We moved here earlier this year and so far have enjoyed every minute of our time here. Margate has character! Yes, it is disappointing to see shops shut down and some parts needing renovating but unless you are living in an affluent area you tend to accept this. Lets face it everyone has troubles and some rise up but to do this you need a positive attitude.

    Maybe you should thank your lucky stars that you were able to witness something like this even if it was from a distance. It was FREE! It made an evening out. And for the main most people behaved.

  22. Totally agree with you Luke..I'm a Margatonian born and bred of 50 years. What i saw sat night depressed and scared me.I walked through the crowd along the sea front with my wife and saw the crowd get more and more agitated as they could see nothing ....With all the street lights off the atmosphere was tense and i saw the Police chasing a Pickpocket, his arrest hampered by dozens of feral teenagers and drunk idiots.It was my worst night out in Margate ever.We left as we could see nothing and i was embarressed to explain to my wife that I hope there are some decent people left in Thanet....

  23. My daughter attended Blink and enjoyed it. She had a good spot too because she actually worked out where the best place for her to go would be and didn't assume she would be okay anywhere else. She's 15 and obviously a lot more intelligent than some who attended and thus saw very little.