They say that life is all about the journey. It’s not where you are, or where you are going, you should sit back and enjoy the ride for the sake of the ride. And in many respects this is true, but there is one really rather notable exception, namely pre drinks. What an affair it is. From the moment somebody turns to you and says “about time for us to start preeing then?”, we are catapulted down the drinking equivalent of a London alley in the mid nineteenth century, puddles of vomit and splashes of piss included. Yet it is an alley which all of us are equally content to trudge down, waiting for that golden light at the end of the tunnel, a stage referred to varyingly as drunk, pissed, sloshed, hammered, mashed or, indeed, turnt. And for almost all of us the process is the same.
First thing is first, choose your poison. And what a choice we have (between 10:00am and 10:00 pm of course). Naturally you will know almost all of them, but let me run you through some of the favourites.
Vodka, for those seeking self-inflicted amnesia.
Beer, a steadier drink but prone to making your stomach feel like you’re in an activia advert, though with the added bonus of helping you float should you end up in the sea.
Rum, perceived as classy yet available for seven pounds for a 35cl and with the added bonus of a guaranteed laugh for the Pirates of the Caribbean quote once you finish it.
Whisky, should you want to be drunk enough to punch your own mother and then steal a restaurant sign.
Gin, which as Dylan Moran said is ‘less of a drink and more of a mascara thinner’ and which is just as comfortable in the garden on a summers day as it is in an Evian bottle in a car park.
Cider, for many the taste of the teenage binge in the park, and a reminder that all of us must at some point in our lives be found sleeping in a hedgerow.
Wine, for those who like to discuss art history at the beginning of the night, and fall asleep halfway through a pizza at the end of the night.
Prosecco, for those who want to blame the fact that they urinated in a vase on how “the bubbles make it go straight to your head”.
These are, of course, just a selection of the choices available to you, but they are on the most part the most popular. Almost all other options, such as sourz, alcopops, pimms (alcopops for posh people), cognac and brandy can be dismissed as either disgusting, pointless or drunken exclusively by your grandparents and/or rappers.
The next thing is, of course, finding a venue. The various levels of pre drink parties range from ‘chill’ to ‘raging’ but the key parts are much the same; easy to wipe floors, a toilet close to hand, somewhere for the smokers to go and a host who is happy to dedicate the next day to bleaching blood stains out of the wallpaper.
It is at this point that things begin to ‘loosen up’ as it were. A drink or five later and all involved have managed to overcome the initial trepidation towards the night out, forgotten any deadlines they may have, or conquered the hangover from the previous night. It is at this point that the person traditionally known as ‘Selecta’, or otherwise referred to as ‘the person with Spotify and an aux cable’. People will whine and carp about whatever is playing, but seventeen units down they won’t care nor be able to discern if the speakers are blasting Skepta or Nyan Cat.
Now, at some stage during the proceedings the inevitable must happen. Somebody will be too drunk and will be sick. As a man studying art history I would advise, if you are above the ground floor, to lean the person out of the window at this stage, as the result will leave a pleasing, Jackson Pollock-esque composition on the pavement for you to enjoy as it glitters in the dappled morning light as you saunter still drunk to your tutorial the following day. It is not something to mock them for; they have simply shown commitment to the cause, though it is key at this point to ensure that their glass is topped up, as this act may have rid some of the sweet alcohol from their slowly hardening veins.
Sometime around midnight, it will be time to head out. See as everyone gathers their things (forgetting almost all of them) and stumbles out of the door. Some may choose to stop briefly at the Union for a Pablo (how nice that Kanye named his latest album after St Andrews’ favourite drink) or a couple of shots (beware the flavoured shots, I had a crispy bacon one the other day and it nearly made me turn vegan), but eventually we all find ourselves in the queue outside the club. The tension mounts as you inch ever closer to the hi-vis clad St. Peter guarding the entrance to your own personal heaven. You have reached it; Elysium, Valhalla, Canaan. It is here. You can almost touch it…
“Not tonight pal”
You turn broken hearted from the door and trudge slowly home, stopping briefly for a Dervish on the way. Your head is spinning, your legs appear to be trying to go in opposite directions, and somehow there’s a rip on your sleeve. You come home, and lay in bed as the room spins above you. Your phone goes off. It’s your friend who wasn’t out tonight. You squint, each letter a struggle until eventually you work out what it spells.
You slump back in bed and smile. The cycle continues.