An unrelenting downpour of rain and hail has forced Mum and I to seek shelter in a swanky Starbucks just off of Charles Bridge. Many others have the same idea, employing a polite version of the penguin huddle as we gather tightly around the utensil station. A steel-coated umbrella wouldn’t be able to hack it outside.
However, a bare-chested lad covered in blood is giving it a go as his bundled up friends sprint ahead. He’s shivering and falling, and it soon becomes obvious he is the latest casualty of a British stag-do gone wrong in Prague.
Stag/bachelor party tourism is all the rage nowadays in Europe, especially in Prague, where alcohol is cheap, marijuana is plentiful and prostitution is common. Many a stag do (mostly British) venture to gorgeous Prague to celebrate the groomsman’s upcoming nuptials, but while the cause for celebration is lovely and wholesome, stag parties hardly ever are.
Our weekend in Prague back in May was characterized by pushy crowds, broken glass, exasperated bar tenders and a whole lot of vomit on the pavement (not ours). Our favorite European city, the place we dream of when we think of art, of culture, of delicious food, was kind of a nightmare to visit this time around.
Stag party tourism is spoiling the historic centers of some of my favorite European cities. It’s a culturally-toxic phenomenon, perhaps even more so than Chernobyl tourism.
But before I launch into a lengthy complaint about stag parties and their irresponsible drinking habits, let me be clear on one thing: I firmly agree that alcoholism is a disease, not a choice. Of course, alcoholics make a series of choices that lead to alcoholism, but so do people who get diabetes from a bad diet or lung cancer from smoking too many cigarettes. Society does not judge the latter or try to justify their suffering with the mistakes they have made; alcoholics deserve the same respect.
So, when I see someone who’s too drunk to keep their head up straight surrounded by chuckling friends, keen on finishing their own beers, it’s not annoyance or disgust I feel.
It’s heavy, nerve-racking sadness.
Paralytic drunkenness on full display in a foreign place frequented by families, by the impressionable and the broken, is an upsetting sight. I can’t shake the sight of that bare-chested bloke covered in unexplained blood out of my head. I hope he’s okay, but it seems more than likely he isn’t.
What if his behavior was an obvious cry for help, disguised as the embodiment of wild happiness?
A devil’s advocate might argue that stag parties generate touristic revenue in Europe. After all, they buy copious amounts of alcohol and are likely to convince friends back home to take after their foreign escapades.
However, most stag parties also litter and intimidate other tourists, especially those with children. In more serious (and just as frequent cases), they start fights, ruin establishments and put their lives at risks. Sadly, there have been more than 30 stag-related deaths in Europe in the past 10 years. What a tragic end to a weekend meant to celebrate an exciting new chapter in someone’s life.
Plus, what’s the point of going to Prague or any gorgeous European city for that matter to guzzle beer if you’re not even going to remember it? Wouldn’t it be much better to attribute nausea and sluggishness to the over-consumption of Trdlenik?
And if the whole marriage thing does end up working out for the groom-to-be and his bemused entourage (as the bride/other groom in that situation, I would have some serious doubts), recounting the wedding weekend will surely be a bit awkward.
So, consider this post an appeal rather than a judgement (though I admit I can become quite judgey when it comes to certain aspects of stag parties).
If you are about to get married, you have my sincere congratulations. But I, along with the rest of Europe, beg of you: don’t let your celebrations of happiness force misery on others.
And don’t put your life at risk or jeopardize your upcoming marriage for the sake of cheap booze and lax laws. It seems redundant and obvious to say it at this point but clearly, not enough people are saying it:
It is so not worth it!
Think of others,