They’re a time-honoured tradition that dates back to 500 BC, when Spartan men revered their own before sending them off to married life.
Now, they’re simply known for their stripper shows and heavy-handed beer consumption.
“(A constant at every bachelor party) is booze and women,” says David Boyer, author of Bachelor Party Confidential: A Real-Life Peek Behind the Closed-Door Tradition. “Even if there aren’t booze and women at the party, there is the discussion of whether there should be.”
Yet the presence of nearly naked women that stereotype so many bachelor parties of today did, at one time, serve a purpose.
“In the 1950s, stag films were shown at bachelor parties. That’s where men learned about sex … and about the female anatomy, since they hadn’t had the experience first-hand. Back then, if you had never been with a woman and you’re about to get married, that’s as good a time as any to figure out how to please a woman,” says Boyer.
Now, men have the Internet and perhaps an outspoken girlfriend who is willing to lend a hand.
“That’s why I say it’s sort of a ritual in search of a purpose,” says Boyer. “The original reasons for having a bachelor party don’t hold up any more.”
But after scripting 5o stories (and interviewing plenty more) from men, party planners, strippers, bouncers and even an S&M clown, Boyer thinks he’s found the meaning of today’s bachelor party and it has little to do with sex. “So much of our lives are integrated with both genders. We work together, play together, and are on teams together. I think the bachelor party is one of the few remaining male-only bonding traditions,” says Boyer.
One group of men Boyer interviewed decided to take their friend to his parents’ house and build him and his wife a tree house for his bachelor party because they knew how much he liked to build things. “That for them was pushing the envelope,” says Boyer.
However, that’s not to say some bachelor parties don’t get out of hand. Boyer’s favourite stag tale is from Australia where a group of rugby players take the bachelor out to the pub. After too many drinks, he passes out at the bar and his friends — one of whom is a doctor — decide to play a prank on him. “They put on a cast from his ankle to his hip … and it’s only a few days before the wedding,” says Boyer. “So, he goes to his wedding on crutches and in a cast. Then he goes on his honeymoon to Fiji in this cast, without really having a broken leg. His whole wedding is essentially dominated by this fake broken leg.”
It’s stories like these that make so many brides-to-be worry about the time-honoured tradition.