"Bring your own booze" or not drink at all?
There’s quite a lively discussion just now on the Face Book site of a festival which I visited fairly recently.
Apparently, people have been attending pub sessions and not buying a drink or even "smuggling" in their own on some occasions!
In my view, both practices are out of order. However, there is a bit of a grey area where some of the bars have offered up space for "official events" such as workshops and small concerts etc and I can understand why some attendees may not always feel the need to purchase a drink if they have actually bought a ticket for an event and are there for some "more serious" less social purpose.
Anyway, it’s not my intention to focus on this particular festival but to open up the discussion more generally. Personally, I usually like to buy a drink or two when I visit a session even although I generally take much more care of myself than in my younger days. It doesn’t have to be alcohol either, of course, but I don’t think the "tap water brigade" do the session scene too many favours.
Of course, some pubs will kindly offer the core musicians a "tab" which they may or may not choose to share. However, I will still want to spend some of my own money even if I get a free drink or two but I’ve often noticed that some others will only have a drink if offered from a tab/kitty or whatever.
Generally, I find the situation worse at folk festivals where many are happy enough to sit in the pub all night without getting a drink before going back to the camp site or wherever and "scooping up" on their cheap supermarket wine and beer and so on. They will often have purchased their food elsewhere too. So, local restaurants and shops may lose out too.
I should add that it’s not necessarily only musicians and singers who are guilty of this but also their entourage and followers.
Of course, most of us would consider the actual music to be the most important thing here and attitudes towards drinking have generally become "more sensible" and that’s a good thing. However, if we are choosing to visit a particular bar, restaurant, or even a town in general, it is surely important to support the livelihoods of the locals especially if we are taking up lots of extra space?
In recent years, I’ve found that many pubs etc and towns in general are generally less welcoming towards visiting folkies and musicians and I think much of this is to do with the fact that they don’t regard us as big money earners as far as they are concerned. While there will always be establishments which would prefer to attract punters with sports on the "big screen", more modern(and loud) music etc who will probably spend much more money than, we are probably not helping ourselves either.