High Spirits, or Deadly Cocktail: The Lads / Girls Holiday

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It seems at the moment young British holidaymakers are everywhere in the media; you can’t blink without seeing some of our home grown young ‘adults’ binge drinking, having sex (a lot), and partaking in  many other hedonistic behaviours. But is it all really that bad?

Although this supposedly recently developed holiday scene has merited a lot of media coverage, the judgement on these holidays remains a hot topic for debate. Are these young Brits creating a reputation of shameless debauchery and recklessness, or should we grant them this opportunity to let loose and have fun?

With the recent landslide of documentaries such as BBC Three’s ‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’ and Channel 4’s ‘What Happens in Kavos’, you may be fooled in to thinking that the ‘mates holiday’ is something of a newcomer to our collective consciousnesses. Yet realistically as a nation, we have been embarking on these types of wild holidays for generations. In fact, it’s more than likely that once upon a time (heaven forbid) your own parents partook in the supposedly new rituals of binge drinking, drugs and one night stands. So why the sudden flurry of outraged parents, feathers ruffled, crying out for an end?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that, over decades of naive Brits flocking to choice resorts in places like Kavos, Ayia Napa, Magaluf and Zante, small business owners (normally seen sporting red horns) have honed in on methods of shameless profit making- regardless of any cost to the young tourists. BBC’s ‘Stacey Dooley Investigates: The Truth About Magaluf’ provides a thought provoking investigation of Magaluf – as seen without the beer goggles. Watching the program clarifies the shocking lengths club owners will go to reap in the vulnerable Brits’ money: free bars; laughing gas; fish bowls- all making a cocktail for recklessness. Of course, that is not to suggest that the tourists must are blameless for their own drinking habits- but when 5 Euros gets you ‘1 shot, 2 drinks and a jug’, it’s hard not to point at least some fingers at the ravenous tourist industry.

On the one hand, maybe it is better for us to accept that what we don’t know won’t hurt us, and foster the attitude of ‘what happens on holiday stays on holiday’. But with the rise in outrageous behaviours now encouraged in certain destinations, sometimes it is unavoidable that youngsters are haunted for the rest of their lives by certain holiday antics. For example, last summer alone in Magaluf, 15-20 girls made distressed calls concerning rape and 12 people died from the new ‘balconying’ craze. In fact, most shockingly, the stats show that last summer there were 200 unnatural tourist deaths in Magaluf – a chilling wake- up call. These young people did not need to die.

At the moment these tragic statistics are thankfully rare but ever on the increase. The most distressing thing for some though is the attitude the young people hold about their self-destructive behaviours – especially the fact that many of their disgraceful behaviours are pre-empted. Just watch ‘What Happens In Kavos’ or ‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents’ and you will see the majority of ‘lads’ arriving with the aim of bedding as many girls as possible, with some even playing games such as ‘pull the pig’ . And the girls are no better, going out in as little clothing as possible and taking every opportunity to flash some flesh. As one young man on Channel 4’s ‘What happens in Kavos’ aptly summarises: ‘Everybody’s f**cking anything that moves’- and who said romance was dead?

Despite the reputation and sometimes chilling consequences of these first-time holidays, thousands of young Brits continue to be drawn to these popular holiday destinations for a week or two of relentless partying, with 20,000 tourists in Magaluf on an average weekend. Maybe we should relax a bit and accept that a bit of fun never hurt anyone. For many young people, these holidays are their first taste of independence before going on to forge their path in life, so perhaps we should turn a blind eye to the odd week of depravity. As ever, it’s also important to remember that the image we have of excessive alcohol consumption, sleeping around, and generally dangerous behaviour may have been created by the minority being sensationalised by the media – surely not every young Brit comes back with an STI. Nevertheless, if this minority is ruining the reputation for everyone else, it also follows that this minority is also creating dangers and risks for other tourists.

Having weighed up the numerous risks that can come with what is normally a harmless holiday, what is it that tempts young Brits to go back again and again? In the often awkward transition from teenager to adult, many claim that these holidays are their final release of uninhibited freedom before they are tied down to responsibilities such as jobs or university. With most holidaymakers embarking on trips after exams, it’s not like they don’t have cause to let their hair down. After all, these holidays give young people the chance to leave worries at home. Many teens simply want to have fun with their mates and relax and in the sun- and who are we to deny them that?

These holidays, which have happened –and will continue to happen – for generations are an unavoidable rite of passage for some young Brits, and it seems only fair that they be allowed this glorious stint in the sunshine before settling down to more respectable lives. Whilst these ‘lads’ and ‘gals’ holidays have been horrifically slandered in the media, we should strive to be open to the nicer side of these holidays, which aren’t sensationalised and exaggerated as much as the more lurid aspects seem to be. Nevertheless, statistics do show rising dangers which the vulnerable young Brit may come across.

So whilst a bit of harmless fun is never bad, it is important to make sure it is just that –harmless. That week should one of the best in your life, not the last.

 

Features - holiday by Rebecca Hopkinson
Image by Rebecca Hopkinson
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