The traditional Christmastime bar crawl known as Santarchy or Santacon appropriately returned to Madison this year on Saint Nicholas' Day. A flash-mob-styled event designed to raise hell in cities around the world, all participants are encouraged to dress up as either some type of Santa or elf, and then drink, drink, drink.
Not knowing what to expect as this was to be my first experience with the holiday chaos, I donned a green cardigan with a red plaid tie, and bought a cheap elf hat with bells Ragstock, and applied some pointy ears I had laying around the house from Halloween. I called myself an elf accountant for Santa, having moved up from the modest pay and poor conditions of his factory.
My friend Noah and I met up with the rowdy group at Paul's Club around 7 p.m. to join them on the final leg of an all-day extravaganza. Based on our subsequent experiences, I've put together a Christmas wish list for some of the most memorable participants among the Santas and elves who braved the cold and harsh December night for the pure sake of chaos.
Here is the list, checked twice for the naughty and nice.
Gold medals: For every member of the Star Wars Santas mini-group, which included a Storm Trooper, Yoda, Princess Leia with Christmas poinsettias in her hair, and, yes, a full-on Santa Chewbacca. This was hands down the best group costume of the night, though there were of course many other fantastic contenders.
A winter coat: for the guy who dressed up as a Christmas ninja. Yes, that spandex outfit made you look super hot, and the costume was flawless, but that facemask and all your stealthy bounding around and clinging to lampposts couldn't have kept you warm in the near-zero temperatures. This ninja did truly suffer for fashion.
Clean underwear: for the Mariachi Santa with the Tightie Whities Inexplicably on the Outside of His Pants. This guy immediately set me off laughing, and kept me in stitches all night with his sombrero topped off with a Santa hat and a huge moustache. I'm not sure what he sat in, or when he sat in it, but those briefs were not so clean after even an hour of carousing.
A decent pair of trousers: for the "Bad Santa" who dared to sport shiny red lamé pants on his vintage and portly figure. Had I been sober enough to dream after falling asleep, this image would have haunted me all night long.
A Volcano Vaporizer: for whomever it was smoking all that sticky icky in the bathroom of nearly every bar we stopped by through the night. Every time I went to the bathroom it recalled a clichéd '90s hip-hop video.
A Grammy: for the person who wrote all the naughty Christmas songs in the pamphlet that was handed out before the bar crawl. The repertoire included "White Trash Wonderland," "Deck My Balls," "Frosty the Cokehead," and "Hark Satanic Santas." A cowgirl Santa with a bottle of Dr. McGillicuddy's tucked away in her coat would scamper through the bar, telling everyone which song we were to sing, and soon enough everyone there would be joining in the raunchy lyrics. Here's a taste: "Blonde lesbo orgies, a quick mid-day fling,/These are a few of my favorite things" or politically-charged lines like "George W. scored us an eightball/And we're feelin' 50 feet tall."
A tuned piano: for everyone who was involved in the Santarcy debauchery, because 40-plus Leonard Cohens we were not. I thought I was tone-deaf until a caterwauling foursome of people older than my parents proved me wrong.
Coupons good for One Free Stomach-Pumping: so I don't have to spend the night hugging the toilet again next year after going shot for shot with Pirate Santa, Bad Santa and Mrs. Claus, with God knows who else cheering us on.
A goddamn beer: for my awesome friend Noah, the only guy I know who would sport a grandma's teddy bear Christmas sweater and stupid elf hat with such absolute style while running from bar to bar with this accountant elf and a bunch of drunken Santas. You are a true friend, Noah. Are we still on for next year?
Finally, I want to commend all of the bartenders at Paul's Club, Genna's, The Paradise, The Great Dane, and wherever else we stopped for their hospitality and patience with all of us. It is really overwhelming to see a thousand costumed revelers come in your front doors, and the bartenders handled it with such finesse. I can't say how much they were all appreciated.
I notoriously hate the holiday season, what with the irritating music played on the radio ad nauseum, the constant commercial push to buy things your friends and family don't need, and all those creepy claymation specials on television. But this bit of good-natured debauchery really helped me to give a friendly middle finger to all of our sacred annual traditions that are just as absurd as a bunch of stumbling fools in Santa suits.