The Secret World of ‘Welcome Drinks’

Locusts, pigs heads and poo: mysterious ‘Welcome Drinks’ unveiled

For anyone who has endured and enjoyed washing down 500g of Morrison’s own-brand corned beef with a pint of Fosters and undiluted gravy granules, you might feel affectionate towards initiation rituals. But after reading this article, you might change your mind.

Horror stories like Gloustershire’s Nazi ceremony, and our own Hockey 5ths last year, have contributed to a change in attitude towards initiations. In 2008, the NUS backed a ban, forcing welcome drinks underground, even if they do just lead to a hangover and nothing worse. That climate of fear and secrecy means we have had to hide the names of clubs and societies to protect their sacred rites.

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What some of the societies told The Tab

Initiations are “a touchy subject with BUCS, the AU and the Uni”, and Ben Frost, Cricket Social Secretary, said “uni sport should be all about bringing people together, not peer pressure and humiliation”. The Birmingham Lions agreed, telling me: “we’re not sick bastards, we don’t want our freshers to hate us”. Though I did get some information with the premise “if you tell anyone it’s (CENSORED SPORT) I will fuck you up”. Followed by, “pretty sure initiations don’t happen any more (cough cough)”- it was time to go undercover.

Pig Head (Tab)

A grim photo we found from one anonymous UoB team

The Shopping List

What followed resembled a shopping list for a Jeremy Kyle party: one simply said “eggs, root vegetables, toast, boat races, beer bongs, tampons, Frosty Jack’s, banter and condoms”. Another described his determined effort of downing a “mug of milk and squid oil, as well as apple bobbing for dog biscuits in baked beans”, and an anonymous informant said that their ‘friend’ got so drunk on a “vomit-like concoction consumed from a pumpkin, that they shat themselves and got sent home”.

Nazi Initiation

Human waste

Staying with this rather sticky subject, one team were ordered to bring their own pre-prepared packet of poo to their particularly peculiar parade. I don’t know about you, but none of my mates have ever asked me to poo in a bag for fun, let alone bring it to pre-drinks.

The secret recipe

Another sport use the approach favoured by Colonel Sanders for their fresher’s recipe; a secret blend of drinks is passed on and added to each year by the Social Secs. They are the only humans in existence that know the special mix of ingredients, which is poured into a bin before being blessed by the President. At this point it becomes ‘Meanie’, and the youngest fresher is ritualistically “baptised” with it (dunked in to upside-down) to kick off proceedings. Casual ageism is a regular occurrence – a separate team enjoy a yearly race between the two youngest freshers, dressed in nappies, to finish buckets of baby food.


Jurassic Park- No one even asked for this dinosaur impression

A pigs head

Animals are also a common theme. One fresher “decided to be a dinosaur all night, despite no one asking him to… and no one could get him to stop”. Cranking this up steadily, one set of newbies had pillowcases put over their faces, and were given “pigs heads and such to hold and drink Frosty’s through. One guy was asked to get off with it and did, and still pulled at the Guild later”. Leagues above the animal madness this year though, were the anonymous team that used live locusts as part of their ceremony.

Fortunately, that concludes the rundown of festivities for this year, or at least the few tales that have broken free from the “what happens at initiations” bond that ensures the tradition can continue, if only under the alluring, mysterious and potentially dangerous veil of ‘Welcome Drinks’.