Tuesday, 17 November 2009
757 - Sexing Whitley Bay
But it's not just the Kiss-Me-Quick heyday, or the post-nineties Nuts generation Stag and Hen hostels on South Parade.
More important than these - got to be - are the Lighthouse and Dome. Classic rod and cup imagery. That St Mary's Lighthouse - on the site of an illicit and rowdy tavern, souwestered keepers gone, but up-thrust tower still in place, north end of the bay, outcropped in the sea - is masculine, is more obvious. Even though night sees it sheathed in pink, it's the deep pink of a raspberry condom.
The Dome at the south end of the bay is perhaps a little less sexed. There's a hope tentatively floating that it becomes the headquarters of Mind Sports UK, and, as one myself, I agree it does look like a slaphead with a wonky crown. But that might be to miss the point. Crowns and bald heads are male, but the milky-white dome is a smooth breast, nippled (the flagpole on top a not-so-subtle disguise), and fronted, when the statues on its towers are in place, by the twin girl-muses of dancing and song. Tonight I noticed the dome, too, was lit up, or at least part of it: a circular window, from below, ringed in white light - an invitation in, as the pink light on the lighthouse is an invitation up.
That North is masculine and South is feminine is well recognised: the positioning of these edifices, at either end of the curved bay, suggest a provocative beach-long celebration of our whole, and wholly sexy, humanity.
A recent news report in the Journal suggested the dome might be abandoned. Why the dome, and not the Lighthouse? These two landmarks need equal weighting, or the cultural politics of Whitley will be left decidedly lop-sided. There's no place for that any more. Instead, seize the moment: sex our seaside properly for the 21st Century!