Last Night of the Pleasure Fair – an interview with Georgina

Posted on November 22nd, 2019

Photograph of a neon sign that reads 'Thrills'.

Coming up this Saturday 23 November, we’re hugely excited to present Last Night of the Pleasure Fair – an evening of entertainment, interactivity and games around the theme of London’s counter culture.

Last Night of the Pleasure Fair draws inspiration from the Bartholomew Fair – a trading event for cloth (and other goods) but more notably a pleasure fair featuring sideshows, prize-fighters, musicians, wire-walkers, acrobats and wild animals. It was closed down in 1855 by the City authorities after being labelled a “school of vice”.

Georgina Bednar, Associate of Coney, tells us more about the making process and the parallels between the Pleasure Fair and modern counter culture:

What is Last Night of the Pleasure Fair about?

In one sense it’s about bringing people together in a fun way, to celebrate a new cultural hub. And then alongside this, the evening is hoping to take elements of local history to shine a light on night culture, counter culture and how often it has been – and continues to be – under threat in London.  

What’s your role in the making process?

I was brought in to think about a shape to the evening and consider which collaborators could really help the concept work. We are working as a collaborative team, sharing ideas and trying to ensure we keep a balance between making something fun, participatory and also that has a bit of meaning behind it. A lot to ask of a Saturday night audience!

What have you learnt from working on Last Night of the Pleasure Fair?

As a Londoner, I have lived in this city most of my life and been able to take advantage of the night culture over the years, from my teens to present day. Some of the most amazing evenings I have had over the years have been in small, lesser known bars and clubs from Brixton to Kings Cross to Camden. And of course, cultural venues.

And we are at risk of losing this, just like the Pleasure Fair was lost. I personally don’t want to live in an unsafe city, or be woken up at all hours of the morning. And yet, I don’t want to live in a city that doesn’t have a heartbeat of night culture, counter culture and clubs. A sanitised London isn’t somewhere I want to live, and we have to work hard to keep articulating the value of our nighttime culture and alternative voices.

I was surprised to learn that counter culture and Pleasure Fair had the same issues, and that judgements then were faced many years later by somewhere like Fabric (two minutes round the corner from the original Fair!). Counter culture is always under threat, especially at times of political unrest, and that may not change over time. 

What should people expect from the event on the 23rd?

To get involved, to play some games, to think a bit about what it means to fight for night culture, maybe some glitter, and to enjoy a bit of London they may not usually come to on a Saturday night!

Last Night of the Pleasure Fair takes place at The Rising Sun Pub, EC1A 7JQ, from 8-11pm on Saturday 23 November, as part of Culture Mile Nights. Entry is £5 and includes a drink – find out more and book your tickets here.

Representing Coney are Georgina Bednar, Ellie Browning, Michael Cusick, Jamila Dixon (Jamboree Jones), Dex Grodner (Chanukah Lewinsky) and Naomi Stafford

Back to all post

Read more

Reflecting Community

Director Tassos Stevens shares how a ‘good question’ was the key to adapting Coney’s practice to towards community development in Gloucester.

Read more

The Parent Trap: exploring trust in healthcare

Coney Maker Zoe Callow shares her research-to-making process for one of The Trust Games, a suite of games we made to explore factors at play in building or eroding trust.

Read more

From climate anxiety to climate agency

Coney Associate Director Toby Peach unpacks the programme we’ve been developing for young people with international climate activists Greenpeace.

Read more