I paid a visit to the Trocadero the other day, it had been a good few years since I’d last been there and Jesus of Bethlehem was it depressing.
Growing up in London the Trocadero was something of a home from home, a place to loiter and spend your hard earned coin, play some games with “out-of-this-world” graphics on a big screen with a level of realism that the SNES at home could not match. When you got into the cock-pit of the afterburner game you were actually inside a fighter jet blowing shit up (I like to think of the Luftwaffe) and got flung all over the place, although your view of the world from inside the cockpit was somehow the back of said plane. Strange.
Trocadero was a wholesome place to kill a day. It had a Segaworld, Pepsi Max Drop, shiny shops with flashing lights that sold weird Hello Kitty trinkets and Magic ‘The Gathering’ cards, fast food, fizzy drinks, bowling and the first ever 3D cinema. Then it got ghetto. I don’t really remember how it happened but one day it was wholesome and the next you were getting held up in that piss drenched walkway out back, being told to jump up and down by some hoodrats. The hoodrats insisted on perching outside the entrance in huge numbers so it wasn’t uncommon for all manner of violence to occur what with London’s gang problem and I suppose ‘chics’ might have been partly to blame too.
Skip forward a few years and everyone has a giant TV and a game console on a par with the technology of NASA. MMORPGs happened, GTA4 happened, Halo happened, so these days the once pregnant arcade units stand empty and unable to fertilise the dreams of hapless young teenagers with their promise of escape to a better place where shit goes boom. The Max Drop is gone and where it was once surrounded by style and excitement there is trashy tat; broken down arcade units; dull paintwork and unrendered walls. The shops are now just building sites in a permanent state of limbo. The once futuristic escalator that guided you in vitro into the womb of Segaworld is a motionless, barricaded stairway that leads to nothing and is ribbed by dead neon tube lighting.
Trocadero is the modern world gone wrong; a dumping ground for the simplicity and obsolete notions of leisure of a completely different time in very recent history. It’s a reflection of how fast the things that once seemed so certain can be so radically changed. And as I stand with a handful of coins and watch one solitary child play the dodgems I almost feel a tear come to my eye, but I have to remind myself that there is a task at hand and that this F-15 wont fly itself.
“Segaworld, the amusement park of the future”