Bad SantaCon: A drunken holiday fest

Santa-clad partiers flock to central London for the 2013 Santacon. SantaCon has some critics seeing red

Santa is having a bad week.

First, there was the debate over whether jolly old St Nick is white (Fox's Megyn Kelly says yes; the rest of the world says huh?). Then, on Saturday, lower Manhattan, central London and countless other bar districts around the globe were overrun by tens of thousands of Santas, sexy elves and various other holiday-themed revellers. They were drinking, dancing and, at least on one occasion, fighting in the streets.

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There's a definite attitude of privilege and excess surrounding SantaCon”

End Quote Jenn Tash The Guardian

The holiday-themed revelry is Santacon, an annual bacchanalia of Christmas cheer that started as a counter-culture flash mob in San Francisco in 1994. Now, one writer is calling it "the culmination of everything that is wrong with America".

On the Guardian's website, Jenn Tash, a former bartender in New York, writes that "something about the anonymity of the costume combined with intoxication causes bar patrons to behave in ways they would never ordinarily consider acceptable".

"There's a definite attitude of privilege and excess surrounding SantaCon," she writes. "They descend in groups of 20 or so - all demanding immediate service from the two bartenders on shift. They want shots, they want them RIGHT NOW, and they do not feel they're being served fast enough. Also, they would like their bartenders to stop making drinks and take pictures of them looking like idiots."

In the New York Times, Jason O Gilbert calls SantaCon "a parasite" that leaves nothing but destruction in its wake.

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Dickens's A Christmas Carol, the nation's favourite at this time, is no longer a story of times past but times present”

End Quote Yasmin Alibhai Brown The Independent

"New Yorkers can endure street closures and inconveniences for any number of events so long as there is a beneficent impulse, or an obvious reason for the disruption," he writes. "For a New York City event of its size, however, SantaCon is distinctive, and arguably impressive, in that it contributes absolutely zero value - cultural, artistic, aesthetic, diversionary, culinary or political - to its host neighborhood."

But is there more to the SantaCon phenomenon than just drunk misbehaviour on a larger-than-normal, costumed scale? According to the Independent's Yasmin Alibhai Brown, SantaCon is a reflection of the cold-hearted politics of the world we live in:

Dickens's A Christmas Carol, the nation's favourite at this time, is no longer a story of times past but times present. Our government is Scrooge, its meanness seen by millions as necessary, wise, virtuous. Generosity to them is foolish and profligate. The most vulnerable are cold and hungry, the disabled driven to the edge. But hey, lucky self-pleasurers, don't give a damn. Spend, spend, spend, get, get, get, eat, eat, eat and get sloshed. The SantaCon debauchers have started the festivities, join in, be merry. If you have the dosh and the heart.

Drew Grant of the New York Observer, on the other hand, is more philosophical - and ironic.

"If we're going to argue about something this Christmas, we'd rather have it be about something as innocuous as jolly drunk nuisances than something that might actually be of some importance," he writes. "Let's feel this strongly about the small stuff, people! At least it shows we still feel anything at all. At least it's better than using up all our outrage over Obama selfies."

I wouldn't worry, though. There's plenty of outrage to go around.



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  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 10.

    It 's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
    all through the ...

    Bah Humbug. how dare you dress up, get drunk and have fun at Christmas

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 8.

    I agree - this is proof of what is wrong with the world today, and how the hyper-sexualization of our youth through the media has gotten out of control. We need a return to the values of our forefathers: I suggest a Lupercalia festival on 14 February...

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    Comment number 7.

    This is one of the worst articles I have ever read.

    Santacon is just a bunch of kids on a bar crawl, dressed up - what on earth is wrong with that? Of course there will be some people who let the side down and cause problems in the neigborhood, but comparing these guys to the government is absolutely delusional; they work as hard as everyone else in the city, let them have a bit of fun.

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    Comment number 6.

    Sometimes I like to dress up as Santa and take methamphetamine and run around the block and talk to my neighbors about this one squirrel that tried to bite me near this landfill…damn it feels like I’m talking really fast and these drugs are really kicking in and I have no appetite and would you like to by me a bus pass and god my head feels funny……zzzzzzzzzzzzz!!

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    Comment number 5.

    In any event you always get some idiots. I was in NYC with my wife on Saturday, we met and chatted with some of the Santas in a couple of bars. Without exception they were polite, friendly and not demanding in the slightest. We were even offered candy canes for being 'nice' LOL.
    Its not a surprise that news crews focus on the bad ones and ignore the majority.

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    Comment number 4.

    I don't want to live on this planet anymore......

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    Comment number 3.

    I believe Santa himself is to blame for lowering the tone of Christmas. His behavior of late is disgraceful. Last year he slid down our chimney as drunk as a lord and stole the DVD player.

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    Comment number 2.

    Lol Margaret! U talk like u are a dancer there!!! Not enough presents for u? Well... Sorry u have been naughty!

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    Comment number 1.

    This year was my first brush in with Santacon when a couple hundred packed the tiny strip club in downtown Boulder, CO. Yeah it was really amazing to be in a massive group partying to the nines decked out in costume. Two hours later the Christmas sparkle faded to contempt as the Santacons by sheer volume c-blocked regulars, scared off patrons, and were the cheapest lot of tippers I had ever met.


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