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Monday, June 27, 2022

Life Divided: Lads’ Holidays

Katie Sayer and Molly Greenwood clash over the most debauched feature of many a summer calendar

For: Katie Sayer

As the plane landed on the self-proclaimed ‘party island’, with the dulcet tones of ‘We’re Going To Ibiza’ playing overhead, I braced myself for a week of debauchery. I pictured threesomes, substance abuse, narcotic-induced comas. This week would be a defiant act of rebellion. Nobody would be eating their five portions of fruit and veg.

But this was no orgy of depravity. Imagine my surprise upon experiencing instead what was essentially an amplified version of an Oxford night out. The majority of hotels had a strict ban on overnight guests. Four of my friends suffered from seasickness at the boat party. There were no Love Island-esque paramours ready to whisk me off my feet for a heady night of passion, but, rather, middle-class 18-year-olds spending their birthday money on cheap spirits and paint parties. Where was the rampant immorality? The handsome drug dealers on every street corner? It turns out they belong to the exact same domain as the notorious goat from Piers Gav – the realm of fiction.

My lads’ holiday was great. The alcohol was cheap, the DJs were amazing, and it was everything it claimed to be when I booked a package deal to a party island. Lads’ and lasses’ holidays are horrifically misrepresented in the media. Vilifying them as superficial celebrations of drinking and promiscuity, this social conservatism is both outdated and hypocritical – in fact, the world of Ibiza is not so far from the socio-sexual sphere we inhabit at Oxford. For all the ‘debauchery’ I witnessed on my lads’ holiday, I have seen worse on crewdates. As for casual sex, if it’s the decision of two consenting adults, who really cares?

It seems to me that group holidays provide necessary catharsis. After a year of ridiculous academic pressure, there are few better ways to unwind than by remembering that we are normal young adults who enjoy going out. Lads’ holidays allow this to happen in a safe and contained environment, because you can be sure that the staff on party islands have had far more experience in dealing with drink and drug-related complications than your local suburban A&E. And before you complain that this is unfair on the staff, bear in mind that 11 per cent of Spain’s GDP comes from tourism, and that Ibiza has an unemployment rate of 4.2 per cent, far lower than the national average of 14 per cent. The overnight receptionist at our hotel told us cheerfully that his job was sufficiently well-paid to enable him to work the holiday season, then travel around Asia for the other six months.

The Romans had Bacchanalia; we have lads’ holidays. It’s easy for the naysayers to dismiss them as superficial, but these people just need to lighten up, grab some sunscreen, and hit the strip. I’ll be in Magaluf for my 19th this summer – you’re welcome to come too, so you can experience this rampant degeneracy for yourself.


Against: Molly Greenwood

A lads’ holiday? God no.

First of all, I think it’s important to establish publicly that I may well be the least laddish person that humankind has ever produced, but that’s fine and that’s just me. I know that, for many people, a boozy two weeks in Magaluf or Kavos is the holiday of a lifetime – a holiday (not) to remember, if you will. This is also fine, but just not in my case.

The lads’ holiday in itself is no issue at all, but there is a culture surrounding it that I see as representing something bigger and maybe a little more insidious. The title of a blog post that I found on www.ladsholiday.com (yes, it is the first time I have visited this website – I would also like to note the shameless and consistent lack of an apostrophe on ‘lads holiday’ throughout) perhaps demonstrates what I’m talking about. When you write an article entitled ‘Should I pre-book my holiday events, or just worry about it when I get there?’, you are – inadvertently – revealing the couldn’t-care-less attitude which is the problem here. Bacchanalian nights in Ibiza or Zante exist in the holiday itinerary because it’s fun to get drunk with your friends (fine), and even more fun to get so drunk you have no idea what you are doing, make a massive fool of yourself, and know it amounts to nothing because you are hundreds of miles away from parents, employers, and everyone else who should not see you behaving as a creature entirely unleashed (not fine).

That’s not to say we don’t all deserve to kick back and let our hair down – we do. We work very intensely during Oxford terms, so why shouldn’t we have a good time? But it’s important to realise the difference between having a good time, and entertaining a blatant disregard for your own actions under the protective shroud of utter intoxication. These are two entirely different things. The culture which is bound to the idea of the lads’ holiday, one of drinking, drinking, sleeping around, and drinking, is harmful to even a vague sense of social responsibility.

I just spent the last five minutes trying to decide if having this opinion means that I am a prude, or even that I am less enlightened than some of my peers. Yet I can’t help but think that your average Kavos bar at 2.00am is hardly a bastion of social or self-respect. Surely 80 per cent of Magaluf must wake up the next afternoon with a banging headache and a leering sensation of ignominy? But who cares, because back home three weeks from now that time your mate drank so much vodka he fell off the balcony and had to have his stomach pumped will be funny, right? A legend, surely?

I just feel that having no care for what you do on these holidays simply isn’t indicative of a healthy respect for society. Maybe I think this because the lads’ or ladettes’ holiday is part of a culture to which I have never really subscribed. Even so, I can’t help but be delighted that all the typical destinations are just so wonderfully far away.

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