Opinion: The Sevens Series Is A Paradise For Both Sport And Alcohol Buffs
Experience a form of release like no other.
BY Kurt Ganapathy | Apr 7, 2017 | Food & Drink
By April, you realise that this is going to be just another year. The days fly by, your gym membership goes unused, and you tell yourself that you can endure the woes of your current job while your grand plan to be your own boss erodes once more. The weight of your responsibilities and the implications of failing to live up to them rest heavy on your shoulders. You need to break the cycle. You need a reminder that there’s more to life than this. You need the Hong Kong Sevens.
One of the most prestigious events in rugby sevens, the Hong Kong Sevens takes place at the end of March or, more recently, in early April. While sport and alcohol often share common ground, the Hong Kong Sevens is a celebration of both that’s like nothing else on Earth.
A day at the Sevens for a serious drinker typically begins at 8am. The South Stand sets the bar for excessive alcohol consumption—one-litre Bloody Marys, Pimm’s Cups and other day-drinking standards are just teasers before smuggled-in whisky and vodka begin to flow. By the time the stadium fills up, you’ve already worked your way through a couple of sloppy renditions of “Sweet Caroline”. And then the debauchery begins. Yes, you’ve been embarrassingly drunk before and told everyone within arm’s reach that you loved them, but have you ever passed out around lunchtime and become a prop in dozens of incriminating photos and videos? Have you ever peed into a cup and hurled it at a cluster of spectators? Probably not, but if you have, you’ve now encountered kindred spirits who share a common rock bottom. You watch the madness unfold, occasionally feeling a splash of liquid and being thankful that it’s the cold of beer and not the warmth of wee.
Costumes are a big part of the Sevens and nothing is off-limits. You make fresh connections with people over their outfits: a Hunter S Thompson who’s so glad you didn’t call him Johnny Depp; a guy in a slightly off-putting dog onesie making eyes water with free hugs; two groups of scouts merging to form a wall of beige and green. Should you find yourself thinking that you’re “too old for this”, a 20-stone Englishman in his fifties wearing a Playboy Bunny outfit will be there to prove otherwise.
Come evening, the festivities spill out on to Hong Kong’s famed nightlife districts. In Wan Chai, the usual haunts are filled to capacity and one-night stands begin earnestly in the neon haze between Lockhart Road and Jaffe Road. In Lan Kwai Fong, the calf workout you get from ascending D’Aguilar Street is slowed down by fans dancing their way from bar to bar. You pause to take it all in, rejuvenated and affirmed. You’re not just an observer, you’re a participant, and you’re doing alright. In the middle of all that, you might even remember that there’s a rugby tournament going on.
And when you’ve recovered, you return home and prepare to do it all over again in a week or two when the Singapore Sevens kicks off.
This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Singapore, April 2017.