As another weekend draws to a close, another set of British stag parties head for the airport, bleary-eyed, hungover (or possibly still drunk) and a lot poorer than they were when they arrived.
Walking to a bar in Old Town on Friday evening with my Latvian friend, we could hear the singing, cheering and shouting before we hit the main square. ‘British stag night’, he muttered with a contemptuous snort. They turned out to be Bosnian football fans, but his reaction pretty much summed up the Latvian attitude to British tourists. Loud, uncouth, lairy alcoholics with no respect for Latvia or Latvian culture. The legend of the British stags who peed on the Freedom Monument is now part of local folklore, although I’ve never met anyone who’s actually seen it happen.
From what I’ve seen, British stag parties are totally harmless. Sure, they’re loud and they drink for two or three days solid, but they’re usually good fun and just out for a good time, with no intention of causing any harm. They come for the cheap beer, good-looking women and the chance to shoot AK-47s in a Soviet bunker. And why not?
They’re pretty easy to spot. The unfortunate stag is normally attired in a skimpy dress with heels, and carrying a matching handbag. A long blonde wig is standard, as is an extra penis or a pair of boobs strapped to his body. He’s surrounded by a bunch of delighted-looking ‘friends’, in specially-designed t-shirts. The front usually bears some sort of reference to the purpose of the weekend, e.g. ‘Gimp Boy’s Stag – Riga 2013’. The backs are normally emblazoned with a variety of nicknames, ‘Filthy’, ‘Big Dick’, ‘Arse Licker’ etc. The ruder the better, it seems.
They roll off their Ryanair flight and hit the bars in Old Town with a vengeance, spending more over the course of one weekend than the average Latvian spends in a year. They chat up the locals, drink their own body weight in beer and, if they’re very lucky, run into me.
Most survive the weekend unscathed. However, there are a few that get on the wrong side of some bad people. An English guy I know visited Riga with a couple of friends a while back. With one of them laid up with a dodgy tummy after eating the smallest, most expensive steak on the planet, the other two headed off to an English pub in hopes of getting laid themselves.
They couldn’t believe their luck when approached by a couple of very attractive local ladies. After buying them a few drinks, the girls said there was another bar they should check out. With their little heads firmly in control of the decision-making process (a dangerous business in Riga), they happily followed them.
Minds full of fantasies that would make the author of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ blush, they were led down some steps and into a basement bar, past the massive Russian on the door. As they walked towards the bar, they heard the door lock behind them. Thoughts quickly switching from ‘Fifty Shades’ to ‘Hostel’, they tried to leave. Unsuccessfully of course. The only way to get that door opened again was to pay a rather large some of cash to the burly Russki. Transaction completed, they hightailed it out of there and ran as far away from that place as possible.
Boys, generally if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Stick to the normal bars, and be careful about going anywhere with any woman who wouldn’t give you a second glance in ‘real life’. That way you’ll probably get to leave Riga with your limbs still attached and a few lats in your wallet.