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The Great Dentist’s Chair Hunt – Results

Last week I asked for evidence of the infamous ‘dentist’s chair’ promotion – where one person lies back in a chair while others pour spirits down their necks.

It was quoted in every newspaper and radio news report on the government’s introduction of a mandatory code for pubs as being typical of the kind of binge drinking promotion that needs to be stamped out. I’ve never seen one, and asked if anyone else had spotted one in a UK licensed premises over the last ten years.
We’ve managed to identify that this activity definitely does happen in Sam Jacks in Newcastle (it just had to be Newcastle, didn’t it?). Thanks to Beer Nut and Stringers Beer.
But so far, we’ve failed to find evidence of it happening in more than one of Britain’s 105,000 on-licensed pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants.
And then, yesterday, I received an e-mail from someone who works for one of the UK’s largest circulation national newspapers. For obvious reasons I can’t reveal that person’s identity. But what they have to say speaks volumes about the media and neo-prohibitionism:

“I was asked to find images showing the aforementioned chair for our paper last week. One of the picture researchers spent a couple of hours on the case without finding one single picture of this occurring anywhere in the world, never mind Britain. That search included 13 or 14 commercial picture agencies handling millions of stock images which, I think, shows that this particular form of drinking – disregarding one event involving England footballers almost 15 years ago – is non-existent.”
It’s good to know that even among the people who are compelled to spread the myth of ‘soaring’ binge drinking, there are those who realise what a crock of horseshit this whole media-generated moral panic really is.




tip top stuff, it did seem a odd thing to bang on about It's a symptom that prohibtionist have over played their hand and having to "sex up" their dossiers! Also good that your posts are getting found by journos.


I'm informed by my Antipodean colleagues that the Backpackers in Kings Cross used to have one which was very popular after a Sunday morning at the Church. However it is now closed.


What gets me more is when the news clips use stock footage of beautiful young women staggering around blind drunk and defenseless… in Blackburn, there're no women like that under 60. 🙁


There may well be journalists who realise what a crock of horseshit this whole media-generated moral panic really is but are they going to stop putting in their papers?


i was just going to mention the Backpackers, or Cross Kings as it now is, which still has the "dentists chair" in the basement (or did a year ago when i was last there). i never saw it being used.

here is my mate pete, sitting in it.

Julie HG

I've only ever seen this once, at a tourist bar in Waikiki, HI back around 1990. Not even my (very) party-oriented college town had one.


I've sent you an email containing a photo of one of my coursemates at uni in the Sam Jacks dentist chair. Not that I've ever been in there, I hasten to add!!


If I told you that a picture researcher spent a couple of hours looking and couldn't find a shot, you'd conclude that my arse doesn't exist either?

I don't think anyone said there were lots of these things out there – it's a good image – that's what we want from the meeja, isn't it?
(Which is why they were looking so hard for a picture)

Journos will always big up the moral panic, it's easy work, they're busy people and we lap it up. That doesn't mean that there are no irresponsible drinks promotions.

The point-by-point rebuttals are great, but can't we have some more positive spin? My experience of what they'd call binge drinking goes something like: "I went out and had a skinful, it was great, we had a right laugh, you'll never guess what Bonzo did. We didn't get into any fights / crash cars / pass out in snow because we're grown-ups. I'm probably going to take it easy for a couple of days because I'm feeling a bit fragile"


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