Karaoke, Bucking Broncos and Brits on the piss: Benidorm Away is photographer Oli Jackson’s new photobook snapshot of the Spanish seaside town, made famous in the ’80s by hordes of British tourists packing out its beaches in the summer months.
Benidorm Away marks a continuation of Jackson’s 01706 photobook series, which documents day-to-day life in his hometown of Rochdale. In this fifth instalment, he captured local Sunday league football team Woolworths F.C. as they let their hair down on a whirlwind trip last June. To make it to Benidorm, Jackson set up a “fines pot” system with his friends, which quickly gathered momentum and gave him the funds he needed.
“It’s accumulated over the last two years or so,” Jackson explains. “Fines for the pot could include anything from missing a sitter, being a no-show, putting blackcurrant in Guinness or coming to the pub in a golf polo top. We ended up with about two grand to spend.” Jackson was drawn to Benidorm’s bright lights, humorous signage and unpredictable night-time atmosphere, sure. But the town’s easy-going attitude also reminded him of Rochdale.
“It never felt like it was about to kick off or become rowdy,” he says. “Everyone was looking out for each other and was there to enjoy themselves. Only around 30 per cent of the crowd were 25 or younger, but I think that’s because of stereotypes surrounding Benidorm that aren’t entirely accurate.”
A photograph that best encapsulates the holiday’s heady atmosphere is of a man taking on the “lethal” Bucking Bronco at pub-slash-club The Red Lion, with a HD Sky Sports screen and built-in chippy in the background. Every night, Jackson and the rest of the team saw “numerous injuries” from punters riding it. “One guy broke his ankle and was walking around with it hanging off [his leg] like a snapped twig,” Jackson says. “He told us he had five days left on his trip and no insurance! I think it cost more to ride the bull than buy food.”
Through the book, Jackson was keen to show off the neon-drenched side of Benidorm that resembles the comfort and nostalgia of your local sticky-floored boozer. Benidorm Away’s release comes alongside an exhibition at Manchester’s Village bookshop, complete with lads holiday bangers, a glittering disco ball and palm trees. “It feels nice to break away from the usual formal, clean white wall mentality,” Jackson says. “Hopefully it’ll inspire people to know they can exhibit any type of photography, and that it doesn’t always have to be super serious.”