Fabricating Space: Postmodern Popular Music Performance Venues on Cruise Ships

David W Cashman


Spaces for popular performance have traditionally been a part of a naturally developed geography whether urban or natural.  However, not all geographies occur naturally; some are fabricated and themed to reference certain semiotic and musical concepts with a particular purpose in mind. Tourism industry operators, in particular those that consist within a constructed geography such as theme parks, Las Vegas and cruise ships, often make use of such fabrications.

This paper considers performance spaces aboard the mobile geographies of cruise ships in the light of the four categories proposed by Kronenburg (2012): adopted, adapted, dedicated and mobile spaces. The five categories are considered and compared using categories that combine the space-based approach of Kronenburg and the audience-based approach of Minor et al. (2004) including physical form, audience interaction, sound/acoustics, bar service, access and facilities.

The paper examines popular music performance rooms aboard cruise ships. Examples of the four categories aboard cruise ships exist, but another category, described as a fabricated space exists with semiotic and performance features quite different from Kronenburg’s categories. Typically, such spaces are designed to replicate the experience of idealised versions of a particular type of venue such as a jazz club or a ballroom. Fabricated spaces are typically part of a constructed geography, and are themed to integrate into an experience.  Consumers in these spaces understand that they are not actually authentically the actual venues they seem, but are negotiatedly authentic: part of a game that such industries invite guests to play. This research considers four shipboard venues that fall under Kronenburg’s existing four categories, and then contrasts them with two venues that are considered to be themed and ‘fabricated’.  The differences are contextualised and a definition of the fabricated venue offered.

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303