Millennials embrace a trend for sober buck’s parties

Millennials are disrupting the traditional buck’s party, with a new trend for teetotal stag parties with activities such as life drawing or clay pigeon shooting emerging in the UK.

Australia being Australia, entirely dry buck’s parties haven’t become a thing here. Yet. Nonetheless, the focus is shifting away from the old-school booze-and-boobs formula.

Learning the ropes

When Jed Knight arranged a buck’s party prior to flying to Hawaii to marry his male partner earlier this year, he had little interest in an evening of debauchery and objectification, same-sex or otherwise.

“I’ve got lots of straight friends but even they don’t seem to be interested in the traditional buck’s party,” observes the 32-year-old implementation project manager from rural Victoria.

“Most of the ones I’ve been invited to have involved visiting Crown Casino or seeing a stage show. I’ve done the drinking and strip club thing. I was happy to do that for my friend but it wasn’t something I particularly enjoyed. You can get smashed any time. I wanted to be able to remember my party. So I organised for a group of my male and female friends to do a high-ropes course in the Dandenongs in Glen Harrow. Afterwards, we went to a restaurant. There was alcohol served but no one drank much.”

Non-alcoholic norm

Toby Giles, also 32, echoes Knight’s remarks. “There are still men who have the mindset that a buck’s party has to involve getting smashed and strippers,” the business development manager says. “But I’ve never been much interested in that. So when it came to my buck’s two years ago I structured the night around visiting a racing car simulator then going to play poker at Sydney’s Star Casino. There was drinking involved but nothing excessive.”

Giles works at online experience retailer RedBalloon so had plenty of non-alcoholic activities at his fingertips. But he says his approach is now the norm. “My brother-in-law had a weekend-long buck’s party,” he says. “He booked a paintball session, arranged dinner at an upmarket steakhouse and chartered a boat. Eighty per cent of the buck’s parties I’ve been too are more like that than hanging around red-light districts.”

Bragging rights

Giles’ boss, RedBalloon CEO Nick Baker says: “Men and women are looking for something other than the standard booze-up. Blokes, in particular, want bragging rights. They want to show off to their mates that they’ve organised something cool.

“Facilitating those experiences, be they skydiving, rally car driving or beer tastings, is a growing commercial opportunity for companies such as ours; we saw 37 per cent growth in our ‘Buck’s Party Ideas’ category over the last financial year.”

Make a choice

Chris Raine is CEO of Hello Sunday Morning, an organisation devoted to encouraging Australians to be more mindful about their drinking. Unsurprisingly, he welcomes the rise of the new kinds of buck’s parties.

“If the buck wants limited or no drinking at their event then their wishes should be respected,” he says. “If the prospect of being invited to a buck’s party that isn’t all about drinking alarms you, which is a thought that certainly would have alarmed me in the past, letting go of those expectations of needing alcohol and embracing the unknown is a great way to learn a little more about yourself.

“Whatever the event, people should feel comfortable making a conscious choice to do what is right for them rather than just drinking because it is expected.”