How Bad is SantaCon Really?

SantaCon came and went, undisturbed by the so called “ban.” So what do we make of all the boozing and decrying? Last month, letters were sent to bars in Midtown and Hell’s Kitchen discouraging them to serve santas, yet SantaCon still raged on this Saturday.  Yeah, it was horrible; an excuse for debauchery and irresponsibility but you know what else, it’s over. The day of, a friend of mine retweeted the following: “If you in any way, shape, or form participate in SantaCon you are worse than dead to me. Your parents are dead to me and you never existed.” I considered this, as I pulled my go-to holiday sweater over my head and braced myself to take on the elements and crowd. I had just finished a challenging and stressful grad program, and was going to celebrate, which on that day meant participating in what many in the city hold as the most repulsive of traditions.

Two things should be made clear from the get: 1. I was a member of a fraternity at a college known for high quality partying. Maybe you know which organization and university I’m referring to, maybe you don’t. It’s beside the point. I’m happy with the education I received, but definitely involved myself in some 21st century collegiate tomfoolery. 2. I have never once in my life had the desire to dress up like santa, and I understand firmly that I am no longer an undergrad. Those may seem unrelated, but trust, they’re more or less the same thing.

I went out into the SantaCon cesspool with one goal in mind: to not get punched in the face. Now, while I opted to dress seasonly rather than santa-ly, I knew that those surrounding me would be drunk, aggressive, cold, and generally engaging in some fuck shit behavior. I had encountered many a “bro” through my travels, and knew the hostility that comes with such a species. The testosterone is flowing, all rationality has been guzzled away, there are members of the opposite sex to impress; I’ve seen this primate in its natural habitat, and know how ugly a run-in can turn.

This sort of pre-emptive gameplan is what kept me off of Worldstar and far from the middle of this six santa scuffle. It appears that the scrum took place on 3rd Ave. and 16th street, outside of Joe Junior’s Restaurant. Listen to how excited the cameraman is to be witnessing such a holiday sight. Behold the majesty. Fa-La-La-La-La. Depending on when that melee went down, I could have been nearby. I met friends at the supremely douchey Tonic East, a bar I had become familiar with over the last year, mostly for it’s nauseating atmosphere. I went anyway, stood in line for a half hour, side-eyed my fellow line mates to make sure no one tried to Knockout Game-me. They didn’t, so I met up with friends on the third floor, an encased patio with drunk santa’s screaming rap lyrics and shattered glass covering the floor, as if Kevin Mcallister had unleashed his own brand of confetti. I asked a friend of mine if he thought we were the oldest people there. Neither of us chose to believe we were. In short, the experience was terrible. A dangerous, claustrophobic clusterfuck that on any other day, I wouldn’t tolerate for a second. People refused to move as I shimmied my way from point of congregation to point of drink acquisition and back. I submitted myself to the mob, thinking only of the joy I was receiving from the void that my school work had left. I even had a pretty alright time, except that more and more people were filling the space and my capacity to bear it any longer was waning.

We left, and went to a nearby bar, then another, then another, each filled with glassy-eyed santa’s maching forward in their inebriation. I was growing tired, but I had to power through. Having subjected myself to all that was SantaCon, I found the cries of its despicableness both accurate and futile. I was once a part of that binge-drinking-over-everything culture, the millennial entitlement to party and ignore the costs. It’s shameful, sure, but that SantaCon exists should be no surprise to anyone. The mob will have its way, the beast needs to be fed. New York City, particularly Murray Hill and nearby neighborhoods, is a common landing point for many recent college grads. My first NYC apartment was in Murray Hill, and I lived there with three fraternity friends.

Point being, college life spills into real life, especially when the agents of transfer know so little else. It can be terrifying having to embrace a new chapter in life and letting go of the past. We all have a buddy who can’t quite shake a collegiate mind-set, SantaCon just happens to be a gathering of all those buddies in one place. There is no stopping recent graduates from acting the fool. In a way, it’s what they do best. And that’s got to be the way we approach the issue of SantaCon; that this pool of our society is so comfortable behaving so poorly, not just on this day but often. For the rest of us, it just means avoiding a few neighborhoods, or cozying up in your apartment with a good box set. We all avoid Times Square year round, and that one subway car that’s smelling especially funky, and a whole list of other city-centered ridiculousness. Just add SantaCon to the list. In a way, it stimulates the economy and provides for some primo Twitter searches. I’m not excusing any of what went down in the slush-filled streets on Saturday, just saying that it’s all indicative of a larger problem/phenomenon. So let’s get over it, or attack the issue closer to the root.

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