This article was originally published in VICE UK.
Lads! Beer! A bit of sadism as everyone celebrates one of you being eternally bound to a woman in the eyes of the Lord! The stag do: where your closest pals come together to essentially fuck over one pal for having the temerity to get married! What a laugh!
Only, according to science, #NotAllMen enjoy stag parties. When researchers from Salford and Madrid University followed some stag-dos around recently (for research!) they found that men felt pressured by the group mentality into behaving in ways they actually weren't comfortable with at all.
To get to the bottom of this, I asked some men about the moment on their stag when shit escalated – and whether or not that was actually fun, or just, y'know, terrible.
It was three days in Amsterdam, about 15 of us. It was clear from the planning in the WhatsApp group this wasn't gonna be a cultured European city break. It started at Stansted, dressing the stag up as Vicky Pollard from Little Britain, and he had to wear the outfit for the whole first day and night.
Booze was flowing from 10AM at the airport. We then had a typical touristy booze cruise through Amsterdam at about 3PM.
I'd say it started getting weird in the booze cruise. I don't remember getting off the boat, or how the group got split. We later caught up the others by chance. By this point I'd sampled some of the local Es and was on a very friendly vibe. I got talking to a bald Dutch guy in a bar about rubbish and put my hand on his head, as you do when talking to bald people.
Next thing, his mate lifted his T-shirt, revealing a gun in his waistband and talking angrily in Dutch. We tried to talk it out but couldn't because I had obviously crossed some weird line. We discovered they were Ajax Ultras and likely were supplying the drugs and protection for that bar or part of town. We managed to leave before it got too violent, though.
Looking back, there's some of the group that maybe didn't like some of that stuff as much as the others – they didn't want to get comatose in coffee shops, maybe. I think, as a Brit, it's regretful and cringey to go to other places and adhere to our terrible stereotypes, which we semi did. I still stand by touching bald men's heads though.
There were 15 of us going to Hamburg for three days. We started at 6.15AM, meeting at Gatwick Airport's Spoons for "before-security pints". Then, when everyone was there, we headed through security to the other Spoons, for "departure lounge pints". We went through to the plane and the best man immediately ordered everyone a beer. Beers were drunk and the next man ordered a round before the air hostess had even finished handing out the last ones.
The rest of the day played out pretty standardly. Except, at one point, the gentle giant of the group, Ted, thought his wallet had been nicked, and stormed out looking for it. Then he went missing for the whole night.
We'd all forgotten about him and our phones died. We got up at 10AM the next day for our first drink, and in stepped Ted with a bloodstained T-shirt and a black eye, looking fucked. As he stormed off looking for this thief he bumped into a policeman and was pissed as fuck, so pushed the copper out the way, then turned and smashed his face into the cop van, hence the bloody nose and eye. He crumpled to the floor, got cuffed and spent the night in a cell.
I've always had a troubled view of stags. You're basically trapped on a trip with men that you might not like – it's a risk. You can tell when someone's faking having fun, because they actually try too hard. I've seen men drag each other into strip clubs when neither of them wanted to but felt like they had to.
So there were nine of us altogether. The plan was to go tour Portsmouth, Southampton and the Isle of Wight. We were on a boat trip and started drinking at 6AM, when we were making our way to Portsmouth. We weren't pissed beyond vision, just enjoying a steady stream of alcohol. But because it's a constant stream you don't realise how much you've drunk.
We were all pretty fucked but woke up the next day on a boat. Our mate needed to poo, but the boat hit a ridge and he got wedged in between his bed and a table, and shit himself. He tried to go to the toilet but it was too late, so when he got out the toilet he fell over naked and did more shit in his bed and a mate's bed. He tried to wash it out with the shower but filled the boat with shit water. Then we all noticed the smell of shit as we were on top of the boat, looked in, and he's butt naked, bent over with a big red arsehole, pooing. Then we had to clean the entire boat. Magical.
That did not make any of us reassess stag-dos at all. Well, maybe – we haven't done a boat trip since.
We were ten men. The plan was to convene at a flat in Brighton, spend the first night in the pub, then head back to the flat for some more boozing. We started drinking at about 6PM, upon arrival at the flat. We finally got out of there at about 10.30PM. Things probably escalated around the time we got kicked out the pub and made a plan to get some bags full of beer and whisky and head down to the beach. Just for a quick drink. We couldn't really trust ourselves to stay in the house and not shout.
So we got to the beach and it was freezing – proper exposed, middle of the night Brighton temperatures. Not entirely pleasant. One member of our group, Eustace, before the first beer had been cracked, was fully naked and running across the pebbles towards the sea. I caved and got in. Then things get blurry but I ended up naked in bed with Eustace. Stags are always a lot of fun, but then my mates are quality rather than total idiots, so I can understand how some can come back scarred from them.
There were about 18 of us, on what's probably the best-stag do I've been on to date, where we'd rented a massive house in Cornwall. We spoke with the stag's boss and asked if it would be OK to storm his office in jumpsuits and kidnap the stag, so we chucked him in the boot of the car while playing Rammstein, with tights over our heads. We eventually let him out and went to this amazing house and got completely ended on beer and drugs.
We had arranged for a sports day the next morning, and we were all in fancy dress on the lawn of this amazing house we'd rented. The stag ended up having his wrists taped to his ankles, with spandex leggings pulled down, while we all did a relay race against him, chucking eggs and spanking his arse.
Later that night we convinced the groom to shelf [put a pill in his arse]. He said, "If anyone is going to shelf me, it will be myself" and popped the pill up his bum. He then took it out as it was burning, washed it off and swallowed it the conventional way. It was pretty fucked up.
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