"All Shook Up" at the parkes elvis festival: The role of play in events

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Event Management, 2015, 19 (4), pp. 479 - 493
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
© 2015 Cognizant Comm. Corp. Leisure in the postmodern environment is often regarded as superficial, depthless, and meaningless, dominated by simulation and hyperreality. Many aspects of the Parkes Elvis Festival fall clearly into the category of simulation and hyperreality as attendees imitate Elvis Presley (and other associated characters) and are willing to accept the fake and contrived as real. However, the simulation does not, in the case of the Parkes Elvis Festival, lead to a depthless, meaningless, or inauthentic experience. Using Huizinga's ideas of play and Bateson's play frame we present the Elvis Festival as a liminal social space that invites playfulness and creativity. The theory of Georg Simmel is explored to show how sociability is created at the event to facilitate play. Finally, Csikszentmihalyi's theory of flow is used to demonstrate ways in which the enjoyment of the playful event experience is maximized for participants. We argue that play provides the substance that makes the Parkes Elvis Festival memorable and meaningful. An understanding of play theory may assist event managers to increase social facilitation at festivals and events, ensuring an enjoyable, sociable, creative, and authentic experience for attendees.
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