Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research

Maria Dich Herold

Drinking comfortably? Gender and affect among Danish pre-partiers

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BACKGROUND: The aim of this paper is to examine the relationship between youthful drinking practices and gender within the domestic pre-party (prior to a night out), an arena, which has been relatively ignored in existing qualitative research on youthful alcohol use. An examination of the relationships between gender and drinking practices in this context is important for three reasons. First, pre-parties are associated with heavy drinking, which has traditionally been associated with masculinity. Second, because pre-drinking takes place in the private sphere of the home, it is therefore 'controlled' in terms of who can participate and hence what precisely is the gender composition. Third, whilst being located in the private sphere of the home, pre-party practices are nevertheless informed by the (hyper) gendered environments of public drinking spaces in the Night-Time Economy (NTE), most dominantly mainstream clubs and bars. We suggest that such characteristics allow for the emergence of specific gendered relationships, activities and affectivities, thereby demarcating the pre-party as a particular gendered drinking space.

METHODS: We draw on narrative data from 140 in-depth face-to-face interviews with young Danish alcohol users between 18-25 years of age. The interviews were part of a large-scale research project on the gendered aspects of youthful alcohol use and intoxication. Theoretically, we draw on a combination of the 'doing gender' paradigm (West & Zimmerman, 1987) and affect theoretical notions on (un)comfortability (Ahmed, 2014). We propose that these perspectives mark out the pre-party as a particularly gendered drinking space.

RESULTS: While our analysis supports the observation of existing qualitative studies, that pre-partying is not merely motivated by the possibility of becoming intoxicated in a cheap and un-surveilled way before going out, we especially argue that pre-partying is fueled by a desire for 'comfortability', which seems almost impossible to disassemble from the gendering that pre-partying also entails. Our analysis therefore contributes to the ongoing academic discussion around the relationship between 'intoxicated femininity' and 'intoxicated masculinity' by suggesting that we need to take the affective implications of young people's (gendered) drinking practices into account in a thorough discussion of the relationship between youthful alcohol use and gender.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102522
JournalInternational Journal of Drug Policy
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

    Research areas

  • Youth, Alcohol use, Pre-party, Gender, Affect, Comfortability

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