SantaCon Sucks, But Not for the Reasons You Think

But I should back up a bit and deliver two important bits of information before we go any further.

1. For the uninitiated, SantaCon is an event that occurs every December in New York City and other places around the world where people dress up as Santa and go on a city-wide bar crawl. The official website for New York's SantaCon, one of the world's largest, officially says that the event is not a bar crawl… But it's a bar crawl. Yesterday, participants started at clubs like Pacha and the Hudson Terrace on New York's West Side, then moved at 2 p.m. to spots like Galway Pub and Rick's Cabaret in Midtown, then, at 4:30 p.m., to bars in the East Village, and then, finally, to Brooklyn and its various drinking environs. All these travels, I should repeat, were undertaken by drunken guys and girls dressed as Santa, and if Santa forgot a few articles of clothing, respectively.

Sounds pretty fun, right?

2. A massive population of New Yorkers despise the event. HATE IT. This is mainly due to the neighborhoods being utterly swarmed by bridge and tunnel Santas from Jersey and Long ISland, who block streets and sidewalks and completely disrupt any peace and quiet that residents normally enjoy on weekend afternoons. You could see in real-time when SantaCon hit the East Village and Brooklyn, solely by the Tweets that came from people who lived there and resorted to complaining on the Internet. There were a lot, and they were vicious.

Before going through SantaCon yesterday, I RT'd a Tweet that called these people kill-joys and, truth be told, if I were still in college, I probably would have blabbered on about them being GDIs or something. It just seemed like typical whining from guys who have forgotten how to cut loose. But now, with one SantaCon behind me, I get where the naysayers coming from. While I don't begrudge anyone who went to Santacon and had a good time—and there should be no harm in a simple bar crawl around the city—I came away underwhelmed and sort of anti-SantaCon. Here's why:

The No. 1 problem with SantaCon is that it's New Year's Eve, Halloween, and St. Patrick's Day. It's a huge, complex, hyped-up thing that turns out to just be an excuse to drink in a really, really crowded environment. On Saturday, unless you wanted to wait in line for an hour, you couldn't actually follow the map of the crawl—there were just too many damn people. And when you finally got to the actual, physical bar with cash in hand, you stood there and waited for an eternity before you finally just got fed up, made sure the bartender had her back turned, and swiped an available bottle of Bacardi. (Kidding, but I won't say the temptation wasn't there.)

This is the 13th Step, a bar in the East Village. I talked to one person in line while walking by who said he had been standing there for 30 minutes.

This is Slattery's in Midtown. The line wrapped around the corner.

And this is an unknown bar (anyone have any idea which one it is?). Yes, I only see two bartenders too.

There's nothing wrong with hitting up a crowded spot every once in a while. But when literally every bar you go to makes you start to feel like you're an ant in an art farm or trapped in a Kafkaesque nightmare, it's, surprisingly, kind of shitty.

Which brings us to issue two, and the sticking point for a lot of New Yorkers/one that I'm kind of on the fence on: SantaCon was home to some really over-the-top binge drinking yesterday. We're not going to pretend like we have any moral authority here, but in college, this kind of behavior is more socially acceptable. Madison, Wisconsin; Bloomington, Indiana; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for instance, are all going to see instances when really drunk kids do stupid things. That's par for the course.

But yesterday, I saw guys who took it too far, publicly puking in the middle of a New York afternoon, peeing in alleyways, and, worst of all, yelling shit at bewildered children while dressed as Santa. There's nothing Bro about ruining kids' days while dressed as one of their childhood heroes. I mean, the image may seem kind of funny in the abstract, but trust me, if you actually saw it you'd be horrified.

There just seems to be a time and a place for deliberately anti-social behavior, and doing it en mass in a major metropolitan area doesn't fit that bill. Especially when a good portion of the people doing the damage take a train back home, and don't stick around to deal with the aftermath.

Of course, this is just one guy's observations, and maybe I'm an outlier. Did you have a different experience? Let's have a discussion in the comments—because I do think there's something that could be special about SantaCon.

[Photos via here and here; Video via here]