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Time at the bar

By Jill Hawkins, Aniseed PR

My friends laugh at me when I get tagged on Facebook, yet again, at another industry networking event, an award ceremony or just a meeting with a client that leads to dinner – and the inevitable drinks, and more drinks. They ask me if I ever do any work, and I explain that it’s all part of my job and perfectly normal within the events industry.

We are an industry of drinkers, we host events and we attend events. Those events always have alcohol and, hey, it would be rude not to join in, wouldn’t it? It’s human nature to want to get the most out of something that we perceive as free and so we take a glass of wine, and another, and another. The camaraderie is great, we all have a fun time and the event is deemed a success.

But where do you draw the line? Do you even try to draw the line? Do you get so drunk that you fall over? You can’t find your way home? You insult your host? In the morning, do you find several business cards in your pocket but you simply can’t remember what you said to all those potentially important business contacts that you networked with all evening?

A few companies I’ve come across actually limit their staff to two alcoholic drinks at industry events because they are representing the brand and have to remain professional.

I’ve spoken to a number of people in the industry who were once very big drinkers but are now teetotal, and a load more who are cutting down. This maybe for health reasons, or for social reasons, or for the fact that the hangovers are far worse that they used to be.

I’ve been to industry events and stayed sober (because I had to be up at 6am the next day and manning a press office) and been ridiculed for not drinking. I’ve been asked if there was anything wrong with me. I’ve repeatedly asked for a soft drink and have been given vodka by a person who, at the end of the evening laughed and bragged that they had been giving me vodka all night – despite me asking for just tonic.

A close friend was at a leading event industry association event a few years ago and wasn’t drinking. It was late and the group of people she was with started buying rounds of shots. She declined a number of times, but in the end the group turned on her and she ended up in the middle of the pack, with them all chanting her name and shouting ‘drink’ to her. The pressure was too much, so she caved in and drank the shot simply to shut them up. She is a private person and little did they know that she was in fact attending AA meetings; the drink she felt forced to have set her back six months in her recovery process.

There has been a big push to increase the health and wellbeing of people working in our industry and alcohol must have a huge part to play in this. I’m not advocating that we all turn teetotal, but I’d like to see us all be more accepting and understanding of people who don’t drink or are cutting down – whatever their reasons. I’d also like to see a better variety of soft drinks available – there’s only so much orange juice one can take…

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