It's not called a shout for nothing
April 13, 2012 5:26 AM   Subscribe

If you can't talk you'll drink more, or, why the UK government would do better to lower the noise level in pubs rather than raise the price of alcohol.

Which sort of explains why every failing pub in the UK turns to karaoke nights to bolster income.

It could be worse, it could be folk music.
posted by MartinWisse (39 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
oh yes please! quiet pubs are so nice.

We called them "old man pubs", and still sought them out (though we were neither old nor men).
posted by jb at 5:31 AM on April 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wetherspoons (arguably the McDonald's of pubs of Britain) doesn't play any music, but seem to get a lot of the drinking traffic.
posted by parmanparman at 5:32 AM on April 13, 2012


if people want to go to loud bars, they will.
posted by rebent at 5:32 AM on April 13, 2012


if people want to go to loud bars, they will.

I have no problem with this. It's the trying to find a bar that isn't loud for those of us who want to, you know, talk over drinks, that is the problem. What I really hate is the place that, when you go in, it's relatively quiet and lit well enough so you can see your companions. Then, some random time later, the lights suddenly dim and the music gets really loud, and it's like -- what, do you want us to go? To start dancing? What?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:36 AM on April 13, 2012 [18 favorites]


Then, some random time later, the lights suddenly dim and the music gets really loud, and it's like -- what, do you want us to go? To start dancing? What?.

DRINK MORE. That's what the study says - the louder the music the more alcohol gets consumed.

I can believe this. There are drinking bars without loud music and then there are party bars with loud music and the party bars generally keep you there longer and you're more in a party mood whilst there.

A drinking bar is for drinking which is something else altogether.
posted by three blind mice at 5:40 AM on April 13, 2012


creating laws won't solve the problem, tho. What are they going to do, make a law that says that at least 10% of bars in each town must cater to your (and my) preference for less noise? Or issue permits for bars to have loud music on an individual basis, with criteria requiring a certain amount of dancing per visitor per week?
posted by rebent at 5:41 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you can't have sex, you'll drink more, or, why the UK government would do better to allow public sex in pubs rather than raise the price of alcohol.
posted by HuronBob at 5:42 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


AFAIK there are already plenty of laws or byelaws restricting maximum noise levels, in the interest of not waking up the neighbourhood. So these could be tightened. Expect lots of anguished screaming from bars, pubs and clubs though.
posted by Zarkonnen at 5:43 AM on April 13, 2012


There is a bar in NYC that only plays Gregorian chants, and at random intervals will play the sound of a person shushing. SSSSSSSSSssssssshhhhhhhhh... Everyone shuts right the hell up and then goes back to talking very quietly. It's goddamn amazing.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:51 AM on April 13, 2012 [32 favorites]


I realised this a long time ago, as insanely loud juke boxes boxes drive me mad. I came to the conclusion that the logic runs like this: people wake up on Saturday morning with a terrible hangover and a sore throat from shouting. They come to the conclusion that because they're hung over and they remember shouting a lot they therefore had a good time. So they go back.

The Hermit's Retreat in Camberwell used to have no music and very good Guinness, but I don't know if that policy lasted into the twenty-first century.
posted by Grangousier at 5:56 AM on April 13, 2012


Interesting, but it's weird how an article with the headline "Why Loud Music in Bars Increases Alcohol Consumption" comes to the conclusion: "dunno, but it does". (I'm paraphrasing.)
posted by Plutor at 6:00 AM on April 13, 2012


ecause everyone is shouting, the bar becomes even noisier and soon people start to give up trying to communicate and focus on their drinking, meaning more trips to the bar, and more regrets in the morning.

Hmmm. In my experience, giving up communicating leads people to leave and go home to drink (assuming you aren't there for the music in the first place). Which means more consumption, but less purchasing at that bar. On the other hand, maybe that opens space for people who like shouting briefly between gulps, but OK....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:02 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I get the sense that some bars and clubs try to make you feel like you're in their own world and that it's a separate or different world from the one outside. Dark lighting, strange lighting, loud music, unique design - it always feels like it's made to hold you there. Like even if you weren't drinking you'd have some state of altered consciousness. And if you are drinking, well, you're more inclined to lose track of time, not feel tired, and buy more drinks.

I prefer more casual bars/cafes/pubs.
posted by entropone at 6:02 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wold it work for mefites? I don't know. Our meetups can be loud - we had one (one of the iamkimiam farewell meetups, I think) where we were so loud I could hardly talk the next day. I can't remember if there was music playing, because 20 or 30 people shouting to each other gets pretty loud regardless. We drank a lot, too.
posted by rtha at 6:03 AM on April 13, 2012


I love pubs, I hate loud pubs, I find them very stressful. (perhaps I am an introvert)

I find they can be the loneliest places I know, surrounded by a hundred people with whom sophisticated communication is impossible, it's hard not to feel isolated. (if you are me)

I love pubs where a group of folks can all interact across a table, and everybody can be heard and there is loads of craic. On the rare occasions this happens, somebody is always complaining how we should move to a place with a bit more "life", and we do, and I always leave early because I end up tired and irritable.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 6:12 AM on April 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


It could be worse, it could be folk music.

Oooh, them's fightin' words.
posted by fight or flight at 6:17 AM on April 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Being largely deaf, and unable to have conversations in bars in the first place (or any noisy room for that matter), this study falls well into the Realm of the Completely Obvious.

Add to that the elimination of smoking from bars -- a healthy, positive move and all -- it left me with fuck all left to do but drink some more. Can't hear, can't talk, lousy dancer, nothing for my hands to do but hold a drink.

(Back in my bar daze, of course. Now I find drinking at home alone much more rewarding.)
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:35 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I totally agree with this. Nothing like being in a bar and hearing a remix of Katy Perry blasting at 50 decibals and having to yell to your friend sitting right next to you. Usually it turns into 3 word sentences, pointing, and just smiling to show you are having a good time. Then you drink just so you can stand the atmosphere.
posted by amazingstill at 6:37 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Indeed, in pubs this sure seems obvious, but what about shops that play loud music? (Abercrombie & Fitch?)

It certainly doesn't encourage me to buy more, I want to leave as soon as possible.
posted by Homemade Interossiter at 6:38 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love pubs where a group of folks can all interact across a table, and everybody can be heard and there is loads of craic.

This, exactly this. I have interesting friends, and I would like to hold conversations with them about interesting things. Regular speaking-level conversations, please, not roared into someone's ear. And this is why I'm always one of the youngest people in the local old man pub...
posted by kalimac at 6:48 AM on April 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hmmm. In my experience, giving up communicating leads people to leave and go home to drink (assuming you aren't there for the music in the first place).

I think a lot depends on what kind of place you live in: I've generally lived in big cities, where people drink in central pubs because either their homes are too small to get a group together in comfort, or they are too distant to get everyone to agree to meet at one person's home, when it could take hours for some to get to and from, so a mutually inconvenient location is agreed. Also, cities with well-developed public transport networks make it easier to get home when drunk...
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:50 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, while i do not like the super loud in your face music, I do find a nice medium background music is adds to the atmosphere.

But be warned - a distrubing trend I have been noticing recently in some bars (western PA, USA) is that they do not even have this default of background music anymore, and we are to suffer silence and having to hear why the person 15 stools down needs a birthday shot. I ask the bar tender what gives and why is there zero music when there used to be at least something, but they instead point to the digital juke box where you can put in $1 and get a song or two until it returns to dead non-music silence. I thought music was for everyones benefit and not just the customer?
posted by amazingstill at 6:50 AM on April 13, 2012


There is a bar in NYC that only plays Gregorian chants, and at random intervals will play the sound of a person shushing. SSSSSSSSSssssssshhhhhhhhh... Everyone shuts right the hell up and then goes back to talking very quietly. It's goddamn amazing.

You're thinking of (the unfortunately named) Burp Castle on 7th just off 2nd. One of my all time favorite bars but due to a change in management about 8 years ago they've gotten a bit less strict on the quiet thing. Weekends you can poke your head in there and the cacophony is deafening. Still, when it's half-empty it's great, and the rotating beer selection is to die for.

Oh, and nothing is funnier when a Bridge and Tunnel group makes its way down the street from McSorley's, step into the monastic-themed bar, and look utterly confused.
posted by Bromius at 6:55 AM on April 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is a bar in NYC that only plays Gregorian chants, and at random intervals will play the sound of a person shushing. SSSSSSSSSssssssshhhhhhhhh...

....What's the name?

*sits poised with pencil to jot name down*
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:55 AM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've always toyed with the idea of opening a of chain bars based on the Diogenes Club. Part of me is certain it would be a gold mine.
posted by Damienmce at 7:05 AM on April 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


....What's the name?

Bromius is right, it's Burp Castle. I'm convinced that the name is another method of deterring loudness, because it probably drives away half of the potential clientele...
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:07 AM on April 13, 2012


Next to burp castle is the delicious Jimmys no 43.
posted by lalochezia at 7:33 AM on April 13, 2012


Related: American restaurants are often designed to be loud, so that you drink more and leave quicker. No music required; just put in too many tables and don't add any soft surfaces. There are several fine restaurants in San Francisco (hello Gary Danko) I will never eat in again because every time I've gone, I've left hoarse.
posted by Nelson at 7:35 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not entirely sure why you bought the British Government into this, and why you're linking pub culture to changes in alcohol pricing.

Currently, the main thing being pushed as a way of cutting down excessive drinking is the minimum unit price. That is, you can't buy a unit of alcohol for less than a specified price. It's not a tax, and given that all pubs (pretty much) sell alcohol for more than the proposed minimum price, it's not going to affect them at all.

They reckon that the proposed minimum level will have an effect of about £20.00 a year on an average drinker.

In fact, the government has said (time and again), that the purpose of a minimum level would be:
- to stop supermarkets selling booze as loss leaders. (win for the pubs)
- to stop people preloading before they go out (win for the pubs)

To derail for a second. This is the second piece of legislation that the ConDems have tried to bring in which are bad for supermarkets and good for small business people (the other being the pasty tax) that has been grabbed by the left and the press as being terrible for the common man.
posted by zoo at 7:43 AM on April 13, 2012


I am not short of reasons to despise the Tory scum but their smug belief that poor people need to be saved from cheap alcohol is one of the most insidious bits of class baiting we've seen from them in recent times and I don't understand why more people aren't outraged. I guess when your country has gone to shit the price of neon alcopops really doesn't rank.
posted by londonmark at 8:26 AM on April 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Going out to a bar in London almost always involves the music suddenly becoming painfully loud at some point and all of us staring at each other and mouthing "...the fuck?". Fortunately, Sam Smith's pubs do not play music, so that's another reason that they're our go to now.

My local plays loud music, but they also have the speakers turned off around one side, which my friends call the "old man corner", but they love it really.
posted by lucidium at 9:10 AM on April 13, 2012


I'd love to see why you think Tories believe that poor people need to be saved from cheap alcohol. Personally, I can't see it.
posted by zoo at 9:18 AM on April 13, 2012


It is the upper classes condescending to teach the lower classes the errors of their ways.

Drinking heavily is a way of life here, has been for hundreds of years. Again I refer you to Mayhew. (I would quote but have moved and it is packed away somewhere).
posted by marienbad at 9:26 AM on April 13, 2012


Your "drinking heavily Laandaners" argument holds no sway with me. You don't even know what heavy drinking is until you've moved a few hundred miles to the north.

Even if you could persuade me that higher alcohol prices are an attack on the poor (which I doubt), how on earth is that argument valid with a minimum unit price when it isn't valid with general taxation? And how does that apply to the Tories instead of Every Party That's Been In Power For The Last 90 years.

And how does that argument only apply to alcohol? Have you seen the price of fags?
posted by zoo at 9:40 AM on April 13, 2012


this kind of study is very persuasive about the causal connection

Three nights, two bars.

Not exactly a huge sample is it?

It might be true anyway, but it hasn't been proved here.

Btw, the proposals to increase price are not aimed at pubs at all, the minimum level won't affect them because their prices are already much higher. It's aimed at people buying cheap alcohol from supermarkets.
posted by philipy at 10:31 AM on April 13, 2012


londonmark, I don't think they want to save all poor people from alcohol, just those that are poor because of alcohol (like, for example, the two men claiming DLA who share a stairwell with me, amongst plenty of others). Although it would double the price of Tesco Value Lager, (81p for a 4 pack), and this is undoubtedly a sad thing, the only things in my local corner shop (which sells an awful lot of 3 litre bottles of cider at 10 am, for example) that it would affect are the Special Brew and the strong cider.

An exemption for drinks under 2.5% alcohol would make sense, I suppose. In that no alcoholic would find them worth drinking.
posted by ambrosen at 10:45 AM on April 13, 2012


As a person who makes, and occasionally performs, experimental noise music, I'm not sure I can get behind this.

But if you happen to operate a bar near Seattle and would like your patrons to drink more, feel free to shoot me a MeMail.


Slightly more serious:

Bars offer a wide variety of alcohol-based beverages. If you like something fruity, they've got it. If you want something a bit more rich and woody, they've got that too. Slightly diluted ethanol? Got that covered.

But if you don't want to drink alcohol, you are pretty much limited to water and sugar water. Maybe some fruit juice, if you are lucky.

If you want people to drink less alcohol, offer some non-alcoholic drinks that aren't sickeningly sweet.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:41 PM on April 13, 2012


First question I ask when we're going somewhere: Is it going to be loud?

Maybe I've just played too much punk rock too loud, but I can't hear shit anyone says in a loud bar.
posted by legospaceman at 1:03 PM on April 13, 2012


If you can't have sex, you'll drink more, or, why the UK government would do better to allow public sex in pubs rather than raise the price of alcohol.

You do not understand British mating habits at all. The sex happens after all the alcohol. And I mean ALL the alcohol.
posted by srboisvert at 12:54 AM on April 14, 2012


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