When it comes to drinking at a fan convention, you have to remember that con is a marathon- not a sprint. Keep your wits about you. Con is chaotic enough even for those of us who remain stone-sober the entire time. Add a few drinks to that and it can be difficult to keep your head in the game. If you’re gonna drink from 9am until 4am every day of con, you have to be sure you pace yourself properly. This is something that my friends and I do pretty much every year for what we call the “Drunk Track” of programming at Dragon*Con. I’m not gonna tell you that we’ve never gotten out of control, because that would be a blatant lie. In fact, it’s pretty much a given that one of our crew will go on a rampage each and every year. I’m not glorifying this, mind you. I’m just pointing out that even experienced drunks can find themselves in the throes of binge if they don’t watch it. Sure, fan conventions are sort of safe havens for this kind of things because most of us simply don’t have the option of being so irresponsible on a regular ol’ weekend. Most everyone around you understands that as well. Even with that being the case, it’s important to maintain some semblance of control. I’ve seen some horrible things happen at con when people imbibe more than they can handle. I’ve literally seen girlfriends abused, friends become enemies, people rushed to emergency rooms, an accidental overdose death, and just about any other worst-case scenario you can think of. To tell you the truth, it’s a wonder that this writer isn’t dead. I mean that, and though some of the stories are actually kind of funny, it really is no laughing matter when you think about it. (article continues after cut)
Look, I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t drink. I’m not even telling you that you shouldn’t drink excessively in some senses of the word. Hell, I encourage it to some capacity. All I’m saying is that in the madness of a con, keeping yourself and your friends somewhat in check is really important. My meaning, of course, is that you don’t wanna screw things up for everyone else. Sure, a story about puking in someone’s Stormtrooper helmet might be a little funny (as long as you don’t get the shit kicked out of you) but none of your con-buddies are gonna look back on a night fondly if they have to call 911 because you fell off a balcony and your head split open like a pumpkin. Another pitfall of being out of control at a convention (especially larger cons) is that some have a very visible police presence. If you’re off your nut and a police officer notices, you could spend the night in a drunk tank.
So my recommendation is this. The best way to pace yourself is to have an equal amount water (without ice) after every single alcoholic drink you drink. It sounds lame, but it works on a couple of different fronts. First, it will simply cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink because it tends to spread things out. Second, the main reason people get hangovers, especially when it comes to headaches, is dehydration. Sure, impurities and the like compound the issue, but only drinking alcohol will seriously dry you out. Another good way to walk the proverbial line of “lit up” and “shitfaced” is to actually eat. Avoid really sweet, greasy, or spicy food if you can (this will only compound any stomach problems) but otherwise, eat well. You don’t have to stuff yourself, but have a little something at least every 4 hours or so. This is where having sandwich and snack type items in your room go a long way. Finally, if you can stand it, avoid doing shots. It’s one thing to do have a shot every couple of hours; it’s another to slam’em down. Either way, I’ve found that it’s best to drink something you can sip on.
-Scott “Scooter” McGowan