The recent announcement by Durham Live Lounge of a revolutionary ‘BYOB’ scheme that, for the door fee of £6, allows revellers to bring their own booze, with glasses, ice and straws provided (how very generous), has been predictably met with cheers from students.
On first thoughts, it may seem like a good idea – with student purse strings tied tighter than ever, taking your own alcohol to a bar does indeed seem cheaper than forking out their prices for namely the same spirit. The maths is there – with a litre of Red Square costing £14.29, that’s 35p a shot, evidently less expensive than your average £2.50/£3 double and mixer.
But ask yourself, would you do this in a nightclub at home? One would expect to be kicked out by the bouncers and branded a cheapskate by one’s peers. Durham may seem to most of us a parallel universe at times, but surely this has gone too far.
One of the big draws of Durham is that cost of living is relatively low, bars and clubs included. The look of shock on the faces of my friends who attend more citified universities when they are confronted with Durham prices never ceases to amuse. We should give a little of our hard earned/borrowed back into the establishments we frequent. Durham clubs may be smelly and crowded, and filled with somewhat aggressive rugby ‘lads’, but expensive they are not.
Hence my bewilderment at Durham Live Lounge owner’s justification of the scheme: that clubs simply cannot cope with competition from cheap supermarket alcohol. It seems ludicrously stingy, even by student standards to state that you are not going out because the drinks are too expensive. This is DH1, not SW1.
Whatever happened to atmosphere? When did going for a drink become purely to get as inebriated as possible? It cannot be said that this is every student’s aim on a night out. The act of physically ‘going for a drink’ is something which has stood the test of time – drinking is a pleasurable communal act. Whether it’s a quiet one in the Collpitts or a night in Lloyds with the girls, the social act of meeting in a licensed arena is one that cannot be beaten by the atmosphere of a house party, which to me is what Durham Live is attempting to recreate. Even if one prefers the latter, surely the two are best enjoyed separately.
In a world outside university, alcohol is not drunk from buckets or at less than a tenner per 70cl, it is supped and appreciated. It ranges from wine that doesn’t burn on the way down (under a fiver and you’re getting a headache) to flavoured vodkas and decade aged whiskey. The array of alcohol on display at establishments is there to be savoured over, considered and enjoyed.
It saddens me that the Durham Live Lounge does not give its patrons enough credit to think that they would actually like to make a considered decision on what they would like to drink, to put their hands in their pockets and invest in an experience, rather than a warm can of lager. ‘Pre-lash’ has its purpose; it is indeed enjoyable, but always followed by a night out where it is standard procedure to be expected to purchase a drink.
The old ‘responsible alcohol consumption’ adage also rears it’s terribly dull head. The proposed scheme has provoked outrage from alcohol awareness charities that predict it will indeed encourage ‘binge drinking’. It is much easier to keep track of your alcohol consumption if you have a certain amount of money in your pocket to pay for it, and it is the job of trained alcohol retail professionals to deny you service if they judge that you have had enough.
Durham Live Lounge’s justification that extra security will be on hand to keep track of alcohol consumption is laughable. A firm clasp on the shoulder and I’m sure you will be ejected in as friendly a manner as ever.
I accept that this is a tricky time for those whose livelihoods rely on the night-time economy, but am I the only one who thinks that this scheme is just a little, well, dirty? Appealing only to the rebel kids who used to sneak bottles of vodka into the school disco?
The time-assured chat up line, “Can I buy you a drink?” will be replaced with “Can I offer you a can of warm Stella from the box I brought from Tesco for a bargainous twelve quid?” I’m off to a real bar for a real drink. Shaken, not shop-bought.