I’m a huge Sevens fan. I look forward to it every year. (For those not in NZ, the NZ Sevens is a rugby tournament, that has turned into a massive, 2 day costume party. The general consensus is that girls go wearing as little as possible, and boys go as girls.)
And every year, before the Sevens, I always read weird rants about how atrocious it is that men take advantage of the situation to grope girls and engage in very sexist, and probably dangerous behaviors.
And every year, after the Sevens, the whole media is full of stories of the debauchery, binge drinking, fighting and arrests.
You’d be forgiven, as someone who doesn’t go, for thinking that 40 odd thousand people are engaged in two days of complete trashing of the city.
But it’s not true.
The stats speak for themselves. I think there were 50ish arrests over 48 hours of solid partying, that literally takes over the city. Even the police themselves seem to make real efforts to say that this is a super well behaved event. In any massive party, if you REALLY try, you can find incidents of violence and crime.
My experience is completely different from the media’s view, and the view of those who hide at home, freaking out at social destruction. The Sevens is not only not a bad thing, it’s actually one of the very, very few times in life, that you go to something that breaks down ALL social barriers, and by these, I mean age, race, gender, disability and even smaller things like social circles.
When you walk along the waterfront at the Sevens, you see young kids, dressed as their favorite super heroes, with ear-to-ear grins as they talk to adult sized versions of themselves. You see total strangers of all ages and stereotypes hugging, posing for photos and LAUGHING. It doesn’t matter if you are one or one hundred, if you get into the mood, you fit in. 70 year olds dressed at slutty doctors and nurses party alongside 20 year olds dressed as fluffy Dinosaurs.
One of my favorite things this year was seeing all the wheelchairs pushed around the stadium concourse, by friends, while the crowds parted, and high fived those who we all knew had to make an extra effort to get there. Unlike virtually any other event Ive been to with crowds, at the Sevens, people don’t care if they have to wait 5 minutes in a queue, or 30. The police not only have a huge presence, they bring a huge sense of humour. Our friend was dancing alone on a raised up catwalk, before the police stormed the stage to… break it down with him. The photos are hilarious and the message is clear: Every one is too busy having fun to bother fighting or looting or whatever it is that we apparently get up to. I have actually never seen any agression in all my years of going.
My standout moment was walking up an aise to see a small group of people having an absolute blast. Dressed head to toe in Disney costumes, they seemed to be attracting more than their fair share of admirers. On closer examination, they all had Downs Syndrome. Im not sure about you, but in normal life, I virtually never see a group with such obvious differences rocking out with complete strangers. And because it’s the Sevens, there WERE no differences.
Im hardly going to paint the weekend as ‘good clean fun’ because there are plenty of opportunities to stray well away from that. But I’m just not convinced it’s such a bad thing. Yes we probably all drunk too much, some people got themselves in trouble (but far less than your usual Friday night in town, Im sure), and it would be far more sensible if we swapped the whole thing for a good cuppa tea and some Coronation Street… But sometimes the benefits of going a little crazy, far outweigh the downsides.