A trip to the seaside to go and play in the arcades…

Insert coin to play…

Fish and chips, candy floss, doughnuts, spelt (donuts), sticks of spearmint rock. The hustle and bustle of the promenade, the smell of salt air and cheeky seagulls. The entrances to the arcades illuminated with thousands of coloured lightbulbs, some blown. Street and shop traders selling beach balls, buckets and spades, kites, tie-dye T-shirts and other novelty things, like fake watches and cheap jewellery. Bells dinging, jingles ringing and the pop star of the day playing over the Tannoy system – picture postcards of the seaside and surrounding historic attractions, kiss-me-quick hats.

Today, a trip to the seaside to play arcades games seems so archaic, not a weekend or school holiday adventure. I mean, who wants to venture 30 or so miles just to drop a few quid into the penny drop machines in the hope of landing that elusive fiver that is probably glued down? Dabble another few quid on the one arm bandits and just hope that one of the last remaining arcade shacks possesses, either Afterburner, Super Hang On or Out Run – even Space Harrier, timeless arcade games from an era when The Human League, Thatcherism and privatisation lined the pockets an elitist few.

The Arcade Clubs have sprung up in various locations in the UK, with a price model of pay once – stay all day and play, but, in my opinion, the allure of the arcades as a wild eyed teenager was to go and pay and play what you really wanted to play, and when you ran out of cash – you’d watch a few random strangers kick the living daylights out of Gauntlet whilst slurping on a can of Pepsi.

Maybe the adventure of taking the train with a few mates, visiting Blackpool or Southport is just something teenagers did almost four decades ago. Gaming is everywhere and so accesible, not just at seaside resorts and a couple of brother mates whose parents could afford to lavish their sons with Raleigh Burner BMX bikes and the mighty Commodore Amiga 500.

The last time I went to an arcade was going on five/six years ago, before Covid and the appeal was something of a let-down. More gambling machines that dipensed tickets, in which you needed eighty thousand just to be able to exchange for a packet of crisp, what about you? When was your last trip to a seaside arcade.

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