Blackpool, a Northern English town once the granddaddy of the seaside resorts. It has now an unenviable reputation for its stag and hen parties. A dirty great whorl of debauchery, licentiousness, laughter, vomit, furry handcuffs, fancy dress and drunken oblivion. Turned every weekend into the heart of social darkness. Marauding packs of brides and grooms, close friends and family, on a mission to consume dangerous, liver-crushing levels of alcohol. This, their rite of passage acted out on the last night of freedom, before the conventions and responsibilities of marital life, mortgage, children.
Once a fun diversion from the industrial heartlands — a bit like Las Vegas with a Victorian twist — is a town that has a palpable and genuine energy of its own. The promenade offers up its gala of grotesque and carny seediness; a whole Golden Mile of pubs and bars for swollen bodies to crawl through flashing scary, carrot coloured midriff flesh. The unbridled hedonism is magnified by an inter-pack competitiveness that manifests itself in drinking games, fights or sex in the toilets! It’s twisted and ghoulish, and it’s hard not to laugh.
Dougie Wallace has captured a town heaving with everything from bunnygirls to banana men. Girls dressed in togas, all matching gold handbags and neatly-done hair, giving it the ‘when in Rome’ treatment, devil girls, pink ladies, Brownies, guys in drag, stuffed into nuns’ and nurses’ outfits, wearing salacious T-shirts with ‘Johnny’s Last Night of Freedom’ or ‘Up the Anus Ashley’ — each group with the same singular objective, to get as ‘fucked up’ as possible.
East London-based photographer Dougie Wallace grew up in Glasgow hence his moniker, “Glasweegee”. Internationally recognised for his long-term social documentary projects and a distinct direct style of expressive street photography, his work has extensively been featured in international publications including the New York Times and Germany’s Stern Magazine. His books Stags, Hens and Bunnies (Dewi Lewis Media, 2014) and Shoreditch Wild Life (Hoxton Mini Press, 2014) received much critical acclaim and viral buzz. Road Wallah, a unique insight into Bombay’s cab drivers, will be published in Autumn 2015 (Dewi Lewis Publishing). Dougie is represented by INSTITUTE artist management company. (Road Wallah. Short-listed for the ‘2015 European book publisher’s award’ to be announced at Arles.)
“Living in Shoreditch has helped me develop an eye for the hilarious, messy side of human, uninhibited behaviour. At the same time my Glasgow upbringing has shaped the various facets of my style which has been described as ‘visually exaggerated’ and ‘hard edged’.
What motivates my pictures is human behaviour. People’s interactions and emotions fascinate me. My stories are thematic; they have similarities of expressions running through them. My work is informed by today’s growing culture of commercialization, the effect this has on our leisure time, global tourism and the inescapable consequences of corporate and brand domination that have ensued. Translating this into social wit, criticism and humorous vignettes through my lens is what stimulates me. I’d like to think that my photos convey a personalized point of view that is both believable and absurd.”