Tab Tries: SantaCon

Enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two? Take pleasure in dressing as Father Christmas? Revel in a crowd of strangers combining the two? Join SOPHIA VAHDATI who tried out SantaCon, the festive, wholesome answer to the Slut Walk.

Christmas crowds december drunken mob running santa Santa Claus SANTACON Sophia Vahdati town

If someone had asked me whether I fancied spending the afternoon of Saturday the 14th of December walking (read: staggering) around Mayfair dressed in a red playsuit and a Santa Claus hat surrounded by hundreds of other revelers in full Santa get-up drinking Christmas ‘juice’ from the bottle and smoking like the chimneys they would soon be scaling, I’d have told them that I’m not keen on taking LSD right now, and would have politely declined.

Things begin to deteriorate

Things begin to deteriorate…into merriment

However, thinking I would be taking part in a small, wholesome bar crawl with some other people dressed up as Santa, I accepted the offer and ended up taking the metaphorical red Christmas pill: down the Winter Wonderland rabbit hole (Hyde Park subway) and waking up at Marble Arch with almost one thousand other Santas taking a pit-stop along the way at the Marks and Spencer’s and Patisserie Valerie near Grosvenor Place.

As we stumbled along Park Street and past the Dorchester, people on the street kept on getting their phones out or coming out posh restaurants to get out their phones and record the spectacle of a herd (flock? Gaggle? Sack?)  of slightly  over-boozed Father Christmases hugging strangers, singing carols and calling for a festive revolution.

“What do we want?”

“CHRISTMAS!”

“When do we want it?”

“NOW!”

After the heat and controversy surrounding the Cops Off Campus movement, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was very little presence of the darling po-po.  Profanities and public urination was unfortunately an inevitable side-effect of daytime drinking and yet the Father Christmas figure seemed untouchable.  We were free to do what we wanted to do, and we wanted to dress up as father Christmases en masse and get pissed in Mayfair.

Setting the example for Santas far and wide

Setting the example for Santas far and wide

The highlights of this parade was the subtle attempt to de-santa as we snuck into Marks and Spencer’s to use their toilets and made a couple of secret Santa friends who were a little worse for wear and needed some directing to the facilities.  My large coat and lack of Santa hat covered up my true identity in the queue for the ladies… but I wanted the other Santas to know that I too was one of them,  I too was subverting the day-to-day social standards of Mayfair London and queering the well-to-do space with overzealous drinking in festive costumes and boomboxes made out of wheelie bins.  I looked a blurry-eyed Santa in the eye and said “Merry Christmas”, with what I had thought was a knowing look.  He grinned and replied: “Cheers.” As he walked away he looked at his mate, crestfallen “Awww, I should have said it back.”

Yes Anonymous Santa, you should have.  What is amazing about this parade is the lack of coverage it is given by the press.  Were we to dress up in V for Vendetta masks, or hoodies, or lingerie or punk costumes the police presence would have been heavier, the drinking would have been cracked down upon and the mob-like chanting would have been perceived as threatening.  However, is it a testament to the nation’s soft spot for a capitalist Christmas that our massive piss-up was perceived as a pro-christmas overindulgent eating/drinking/buying parade, and as just a little bit of fun?  I’m not sure.  No one pays me or grades me to think about these things so I haven’t wasted much time pondering about it to be honest.  Overall, I had a (snow)ball reveling in the wintry festival atmosphere and got the most out of the friendly, talk to anyone, surrealist feel that London acquired for half a day.

Muscovite Santas leading the way

Muscovite Santas leading the way

Little did I know, until I raised my aching head out of bed to desperately scour the internet for any photos of me merrily misbehaving (#dailymailcantabparanoia), that SantaCon is a worldwide event described as a non-political nonreligious celebration of festive cheer.  Nice.  I will definitely be revisiting this parade of madness, debauchery and Christmas spirit next year and I recommend it to everyone out there.

SantaCon is comiiiingggg to towwwwnnnnnnn.