A year ago, I spent three weeks traveling through England, Scotland, and Wales. I spent a Saturday night in Nottingham and was amazed at what I was told is a very common ritual. "Hen-dos" and "Stag-dos" take the experience of the pre-wedding party to an extreme that American brides and grooms would be surprised by. Besides the requisite heavy drinking and generally outrageous behavior, Brits like to dress in themes, carry sex dolls and sex toys, and make very public spectacles of themselves.
London based photographer Dougie Wallace has spent what I assume is considerable time documenting this tradition. His pictures are raw, vivid, and occasionally a little obscene. And really, really good.
They've been published as a book, available from the UK here. It should be avaialbe here in the States in a couple of months. Here's an excerpt from what's written on the web site:
a Northern English town once the granddaddy of the seaside resorts.
Enjoying renewed popularity as one of the UK’s major hen/stag
Blackpool… 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.
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! Its
twisted and ghoulish, and it’s hard not to laugh."
Take a few minutes and check them out here.