On Monday, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger publicly lambasted the promoters of last Friday night's Barstool Blackout DJ dance party at Memorial Auditorium for promoting "intoxication and wildness," after 16 local young-uns ended their evening in the emergency room or detox unit.
According to the mayor, the city dropped the ball by not adequately vetting the promotional material of the 18-and-over rave-like fest. Presumably, someone at the city assumed the "barstool" referred to a breakfast bar, and "blackout" a temporary power outage.
OK, we totally get it that Mayor Buzzkill has to show a zero tolerance for underage binge drinking. But just how out of the ordinary is it for more than a dozen kids to wind up in the drunk tank after a Queen City bash?
Short answer: It depends.
Similar shows booked at Memorial Auditorium in the last year certainly haven't turned into as much of a puke-fest as this one did. For example, on October 13, 2011, when Skrillex performed at Memorial, Burlington Police report a total of eight overdoses in the 24-hour period surrounding the event, though police believe only one was related to the show itself.
Similarly, during the night of the April 17, 2012 Bassnectar show at Memorial, BPD took only one blotto Bassnectarine to the detox unit at Act One the entire night. And, the Nero and Porter Robertson show at Memorial on October 26, 2011 didn't result in a single sauced soul requiring a BPD response.
That said, Queen City hurl-a-thons aren't the sole purview of the young and the reckless. This year's Mardi Gras weekend, held on March 3 and 4, resulted in 22 alcohol-related police calls, including six people who showed up — or had to be transported to — the emergency room at Fletcher Allen. This year, Mardi Gras also coincided with Spring Break for the University of Vermont and Champlain College, when a fair number of students typically seek out warmer venues for downing shots.
Kristin Baker, nurse manager of Fletcher Allen's emergency department, says that while the Blackout Barstool event certainly generated higher-than-normal numbers of kids needing treatment for over-consumption, on any typical weekend, her department will routinely see five to 10 people who need sobering up — and those numbers almost always spike when there's a special event or holiday, such as Halloween or New Year's. As for their ages, Baker says, "Usually they're pretty young." Unsurprisingly, alcohol is far and away the biggest abused drug.
Baker, who's worked in the emergency department for eight years, says that anecdotally, it looks like the numbers of underage drinkers are going up, though she cautions that "you get a warped perception in a college town" like Burlington.
Perhaps Miro should look on the bright side: At least Barstool Blackout wasn't a bath salts bash.