Defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a party given for a man or a woman about to get married, typically attended by men or women only, a bachelor party sounds simple and uncomplicated right?
The reality, however, usually involves a group of guys getting together for one last night of debauchery before the poor fellow has to walk down the aisle and pledge himself to one woman forever.
The day after the said night usually involves a drunken individual standing at traffic lights in a busy intersection in nothing but a pink tutu and tights, a feather boa tied around his neck while a ball and chain drag from one of his ankles.
He is usually holding tightly onto a cardboard sign which pleads for public sympathy as it’s his last day as a single man.
All of this while a group of his buddies laugh from across the street, safely cocooned in a car, chugging left-over beers from the night before.
By no means restricted to men, women have also joined in on the activity with bachelorette parties, which often involve an assortment of adult toys, sexy lingerie and, on occasion, greasy male strippers.
Although a well-meaning celebration, these parties have been known to get out of hand, often resulting in shame and regret.
In a story on how bachelor parties can go wrong, The Daily Telegraph writer Jake Wallis Simons related three hilarious stories in an article headlined “Stag Do’s: Examples of when they go wrong”.
In one incident in Ireland, a friend of the groom inadvertently spent a quarter of his annual salary on a night of binge drinking and strip club hopping.
In a letter of complaint to the North Irish council, the man claims he was ushered into a private booth and plied with alcohol by staff which led him to max out three credit cards in order to purchase large quantities of lap dance tokens. He spent a total of £7500 (about R121324).
In another incident, a senior member of the British Establishment was treated by his best friend to a stag night in Brussels where the entire gang was asked to come clad in their school uniforms.
As the evening wore on, the party became more outrageous, resulting in the gang stripping outside the town hall. Not long afterwards, the police were called, with one member of the gang suggesting they run.
“So the drunken gang sprinted off into the narrow side streets of Brussels, school satchels bouncing upon their buttocks,” the story reads.
“Too drunk to care, his best man continued blithely flashing passers-by, his school tie dangling around his neck.”
The third incident involves a stag party guest who, having passed out in the cab after giving his address, mistakenly slept in a high ranking official’s home, sparking a major security scare.
But not all parties get out of hand.
Former East London resident Nosipho Macanda said – as part of her friend’s bridal party – she had been on the planning committee of the bachelorette party three years ago.
Held two weeks before the actual wedding day at a bed and breakfast situated in the city, Macanda said she and the ladies had enjoyed chilled champagne and plenty of laughs as they were skilled in the art of pole dancing.
“We wanted to do something laid back but also a bit naughty so we got someone to teach us lap dancing. We found her off the internet and arranged for her to come to us. She came with a portable pole and music,” Macanda said.
“She taught us how to swing on the pole and also a few seductive moves as well. We also got someone who sells adult toys to come and give us an exhibit. She brought vibrators, a variety of lubes, handcuffs, whips and chains and gave us a crash course on how to use all of the toys effectively.
“The party itself wasn’t a surprise because the bride-to- be knew it was happening, but all of the activities on the menu were a surprise. She loved it, the entire thing.
“There was no stripper, no one spent money they didn’t have and the night didn’t impact on her wedding at all.”
Themba Gama* said he and his group of 16 friends had headed to Port Alfred for his stag party last year, which was also held at a bed and breakfast.
Stocking up on a variety of different alcoholic beverages, meat and rolls to last an entire weekend, Gama said their entertainment comprised loud music and about 10 female friends who had joined them for what he termed “a night of clean fun”.
He said: “We decided to hold it the weekend before the wedding because I didn’t want to be drunk or hungover on my wedding day. My other fear was that it was not only going to be a white wedding on the Saturday, but there was also going to be the traditional wedding the following day.
“We headed out very early on Saturday morning and just chilled in the rooms.
“We drank, chatted and joked around. It was a very laid-back setting. Nothing sexual happened between any one of my friends or the guys. Everything was under control and no one had any regrets. The next afternoon, we all drove home.”
When asked what had prompted them to host the parties, both Macanda and Gama said they were merely doing what was expected of them.
“Most people have bachelorette parties when they get married so I’m sure she expected one too so we planned one for her.
“We regularly hang out as as girls anyway and the party was really nothing too different from what we normally do,” Macanda said, while Gama said his friends expected a bachelor party.
“I just went along with it. I didn’t really want one but my best friend kept insisting that he wants it so I eventually agreed.
“I let him make all of the arrangements for the day and it was him who organised transport for the girls from Grahamstown to East London. The whole thing wasn’t awful but if I had a choice, I wouldn’t have done it,” Gama said.
He is not alone.
In research which examines the stag party phenomenon in the UK – conducted by Professor Daniel Briggs and University of Salford lecturer Anthony Ellis titled “The Last Night of Freedom: Consumerism, Deviance and the ‘Stag Party’” which appears in the Journal of Deviant Behaviour – it was suggested that men did not enjoy the debauchery or the “extreme shaming, humiliation, and deviance” that are part and parcel of most modern stag dos.
In a story based on the research which appeared in The Guardian three months ago, it was revealed that men succumb to peer pressure to celebrate one final night of “freedom” with the groom-to-be, despite the fact that the hedonistic experiences could leave them feeling scared and degraded.
The story reads: “The researchers found instances of men being pressured into doing things they did not enjoy but nonetheless went along with to keep up with the other men in the group.
“They record one groom-to-be who said he had no desire to see half-naked dancing women, let alone pay them in a lap dancing club that his best man insisted they go to.
“However, he went along with the group and spent a dismal evening declining offers from various women for private dances, but did not reveal his desire to leave to the best man or the rest of the group.”