Buck’s nights have become a parody

19 February 2010

Written by: Tom Cowie

It has just struck 11pm on a Saturday night and John has decided to mark tonight’s occasion by changing into a new outfit.

Accessorising with a large pair of clip-on earrings and a brown silk scarf, John has struggled into a floral dress that barely covers his hairy 187-centimetre frame.

On his feet, John is employing all of his power and balance to stay upright, as he battles a pair of white stilettos that are at least one size too small.

But on this particular night, John is barely in a state to care. Encouraged by his mates, John’s performance is part of a modern Australian tradition.

It is a buck’s party and — like countless men before him — the future groom is keen to get completely written off.

Bucks’ nights have become an unquestionable part of modern Australian wedding culture. For many, a “stag do” is seen as an integral part of boy’s evolution to man.

It is an event seen as a rite of passage, similar to a first job or a first beer. It has its origins in ancient Greece, where Spartan soldiers would toast a man before his impending marriage.

However, while it is unlikely that these ancient beginnings were innocent affairs themselves, the Australian tradition has morphed into an excuse to get away with completely unsociable behaviour.

It is rare for a weekend to go by without an incident of crime, violence or stupidity that has its origins in a buck’s party. Many venues are now loathe to accept a buck’s night group, as they can predict –with monotonous regularity – the trouble that they bring.

However, more than this, the biggest crime of the modern Australian buck’s party is that they have become utterly cliched. What was once a great male ritual has now morphed into a contrived mix of binge drinking, stupid pranks and, of course, the omnipresent lap dance.

These days, it seems that all men can think of when they plan a groom’s “last big night out” is to tiredly carry on the archetype of what their mates had done previously.

Typically, this involves 20 or so mates getting together, drinking beers and humiliating the buck with any number of sex toys, blow-up dolls and women’s dresses. Then comes the strippers.

But what perpetuates this tired formula of blokedom? Is it because Australian male culture demands that a buck’s night must involve extraordinary amounts of alcohol?

Or is it peer pressure, where we all must try to out-do each other with more beer, more naked women and more degrading pranks?

Or, like many other of society’s ills, should we simply blame it on Hollywood?

By no means a pioneer in its genre, 2009 film The Hangover includes all the traditional ingredients of a bachelor party – booze, strippers and multiple run-ins with the law – but ramps it up to an obscenely utopian level.

An unattainable vision from Hollywood such as this only ensures that the modern buck’s night will continue to employ the same old recipe.

For once, it would be great to hear of a buck’s night breaking the mould and avoiding the beer- pranks-strippers trap. However, paying a visit to any number of pubs this weekend will prove that this vision could be a while off.

It hits midnight and John has opted to change into a new outfit. This time it’s a lime green Borat mankini, a costume that only succeeds in making the floral dress of an hour ago look properly fitted.

If this is man’s last night of freedom. Why spend it like this?

This piece was originally published at the National Times.

Tom Cowie is the editor of upstart.