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Fireworks everywhere

Fireworks everywhere

I’ve just come back from a big fireworks display in my local park. When I was a child display like this was almost unknown, and even twenty years ago they were uncommon. Yet now it seems - quite apart from November 5th and thereabouts - that pretty much any evening event outdoors is incomplete without some fireworks laid on. It led me to think about the complex confluence of trends that had created this social shift.

There seem to me to be five, or perhaps six. The first is a social shift towards large-scale shared entertainment (the same trend which has seen the emergence of ‘fanparks‘ at big football competitions, and maybe also the growth of the music festival). What’s happened here, I think, is that as our homes have become larger, warmer. more comfortable, and better equipped, we have stopped going out to local social venues (pub, bingo) as a matter of routine, but still want to go out (we’re still social animals). And this is also connected to a desire for the live experience, the authentic moment, which is a reaction to a world of digital entertainment in which everything can be copied, reproduced, and falsified.

The second is technology. Big complex fireworks routines need programming if they are to go off at the right time and in the right order, but they’re always outside and usually a long way away from power. The fall in processor costs meant that laptops became powerful enough to do this - along with materials technology that meant that they were rugged enough to sit outside and function even in poor weather and low temperatures.

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