Skip the After Party Bars

Alcoholic Drinks

There's been a lot of discussion recently about women in WordPress and how we should change the status quo. If you haven't been following along I would start with Sarah Gooding's post about Creating a Culture of Respect. There were some excellent follow ups by Chris Lema & Sarah Pressler.

There's a lot of information to digest and a lot to process. I want to write my opinion in response to these excellent posts but I'm honestly not ready. I work best by breaking things into smaller chunks and digesting those pieces and then moving on. That's why I'm starting with something tangential – why do we host after parties at bars?

Why Bars

One of the best reasons to have after party at a bar is because those are the venues that are open at the end of the day. And honestly a little alcohol can loosen some people up. I get that.

My big criticism is that the atmosphere of a bar is all wrong. Bars have plenty of legitimate uses but I can't think of a single venue that's more popular for hookups than a bar. It's a combination of the afterwork attitude, the alcohol, and the adults only environment. Just like you wouldn't take a vegetarian to Texas Roadhouse for their birthday you probably shouldn't go to a bar after a professional event.

Drunk People Rarely Make Better Choices Than Sober People

Ice Luge

The ice luge at WordCamp Phoenix

Even if you're fine with the atmosphere there's the alcohol. Since when have drunk people had a reputation for being respectable? Since never.

I'm certainly not saying it's wrong to be drunk – I get drunk on occasion. But once again if you want to be in a respectable environment; a bar probably isn't the best choice.

I’m not saying that sober people always make perfect choices – but most of us, when sober, make better choices.
Chris Lema

Venue Suggestions

I hate when people complain and don't have any solutions or even possible solutions. This is something that we can change if we have the will to do so.

  1. Don't encourage shots (see ice luge right)
  2. Don't have an open bar. Free drinks encourage excessive comsumption.
  3. Don't emphasize drinking during the after party. There's plenty of other interesting things like meeting new people to be excited about.
  4. Have a more open air / classy feel. The Vintage 95 venue on Friday night during WordCamp Phoenix was great for this. It was more of a wine bar where the purpose was to eat, drink, and chat with people; not just drink.
  5. Have the party earlier. Have an after party breakfast on Sunday (for the one day camps). Or have a barbecue. It's your WordPress and your camp. If you don't like something change it.

Organize It Yourself

If you're part of an organizing committee then I encourage you to make these suggestions yourself. Push for them. Fight for them. I'll make these suggestions for WordCamp Milwaukee.

Don't Go

If you think you're going to an event where the main point is to get drunk and you don't want to be in that atmosphere then don't go. Should you be able to go to the after party with everyone else? Yes – of course. But with 750 attendees with alcohol mucking up their brain there's bound to be an idiot or two. And I'm not sure how much a code of conduct will help.

Photo Credit: sakshi_sharma

One thought on “Skip the After Party Bars

  1. I like to think of “bars” as either a bar or a pub. A bar tends to be standing-room only, shouting over loud music, more “party” atmosphere.

    A pub tend to be more low-key, more emphasis on seating, quiet music (if any). I’d rather be at a pub than a bar almost any day.

    WordCamp Austin’s after-parties have been at a restaurant. They served beer and margaritas—and everyone had a drink coupon or two, I think—but the environment was not a reminder of my college days slamming shots ordered by yelling at a bartender from six inches away.

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