The Grand National Drunk is back!
I will attempt to impart some of the drunken wisdom acquired first hand over the years in the space following. Yes, most of this is about drinking and where you can go to have the most fun drinking and yes, I pecked it out one handed with a drink in the other. If you’re too uptight for that then take off eh!
Invariably, fellow veterans of Grey Cup will have opinions differing from my own. They should be left in the comments.
I have been to the previous eight Grey Cups which definitely isn’t as many as some but more than anyone else I know. These past eight years have taught me many things and I will outline a plan of attack from Thursday morning all the way to the big game itself. I will note which parties and events I think are worthwhile, which are not and provide a strategy for getting personal with the Grey Cup at the Fan March.
Regina as a Grey Cup host city is terrible for many legitimate reasons I don’t have space for but I will say this about their bash last year: the team parties were set up better than any other Grey Cup I’ve ever been to. One $40 wrist band granted the wearer admittance to EVERY team party which were all centrally located together in the Convention Centre (CC). A stroke of purely distilled genius. Not so this year. On paper Vancouver 2014 is exactly the same as Vancouver 2011. I think it’s even the same website. About half the team parties are in Vancouver’s CC and the others are spread out at various bars and hotels. Most have a cover charge and some are at odd ball hours.
One important lesson learned the hard way: All official Grey Cup parties end at 1am or earlier. Check your watch (cell phone) before changing venues.
Flying Air Canada? Steal a lounge pass or fly with someone possessing appropriate status. The Maple Leaf Lounge gives you all you can drink access to the only legal self serve beer, wine and hard liquor bar I have ever seen in Canada. They have all the brand names too! It’s also past security so go buy a bottle of Coke, dump out half and fill it back up with Crown. I make two road rockets (plane pops?). That should get you to YVR without having to go into debt to Heineken on the plane.
Despite a few attempts in the past to make the Grey Cup Festival a week long event, tragically, it is not. Arriving before Thursday is a waste of time unless you are burning vacation that cannot be carried over into the new year.
If you arrived Thursday am you didn’t get to sample any of the free booze at the Maple Leaf Lounge (the bar doesn’t open until 11am). Good news is you can still score a free meal at the Calgary Grey Cup Committee Pancake Breakfast!
Either way you need to get downtown, which is where you should be staying to extract the most out of the weekend. In case you’re unaware, the Canada Line of the SkyTrain leaves right from the airport and heads straight downtown. Don’t take a cab!
This is where that second bottle of rye and Coke comes in handy if you flew out later in the day. By now it’s probably piss warm but you have the thirst and pretty much any beverage will do. Enjoy the 30-40 min ride, take in the sights and pat yourself on the back for being so prepared!
When you get off the train buy beer at the first place you see because liquor stores close at 11 in BC. Also be prepared for this bit of bullshittery:
It’s a good idea to have identification with you when purchasing alcohol in B.C. If a server believes you may be underage, they must verify your age by asking to see the following two pieces of ID:
- An official government issued ID (including official foreign government-issued IDs) with your name, signature, picture and birth date, such as a driver’s licence or passport.
- A secondary piece of ID that includes an imprint of your name and your signature or picture, such as a credit card.
If the server has any doubts about a customer’s ID, they may refuse service.
Always carry a government issued photo ID and a credit/bank card with you!
Check into your hotel/relative’s and put the beer in a cold place. Dump your stuff, claim your bed (dibs always applies on GC weekend) and head out to your first stop.
Thursday night is always the slowest. If you’re feeling rich you could spend $240 on a ticket to the CFL Awards and the VIP after party. I have only successfully sneaked into this party once, in Calgary in 2009 and it was a blast!
I suggest heading straight to the CC unless you’re an Eskies fan. The CC has the Atlantic Schooners DownEast Kitchen Party which was my favourite last year (lobster rolls!) and Riderville (the biggest but also the least diverse team wise).
The CC will likely have more fans than anywhere else on Thursday. There’s also the annual <insert sponsor> Concert Series. I have never found this worth paying face value for ($35). You can sometimes get in cheaper later in the evening but I have also entered through the exit doors while security isn’t paying much attention. I’ve also bought scalped tickets for around half price. I only vaguely remember the concert thingy selling out once in 2007 (I could be wrong). Do not buy the three day pass unless you’re in the one percent.
Since you have to pay cover at the door it’s tough to bounce between parties which is a complete and total downer this year.
Pro Tip: Towards the end of the night parties that charge cover sometimes let people in for free if it’s not at capacity. Often all you need to say is “Look, there’s X of us and we have a lot of money to spend on beer.”
If you’re an Edmonton fan then obviously head to Spirit of Edmonton. Even if you’re not it’s a great backup when the CC sucks because it’s free.
There’s the Commissioner’s State of the League address at 11am but you’ll still be asleep if you’re anything like myself and followed the above script.
Peel yourself off the floor, take a shower and get your free breakie before 1pm at the Calgary Grey Cup Committee Pancake Breakfast.
You might not have had an opportunity to check out the Street Festival yesterday so now’s a good time. Grab all the free swag you can! A lot of it is sample food but sometimes they give away useful stuff like razors too. The past few years Frank’s Red Hot has been sponsoring an eating competition. This is amazing! Anyone can enter and the best times make it to the finals on Saturday night. I hope they have it this year!
Friday afternoon from 12-6pm is the only time Winnipeg hosts a team party (Touchdown Manitoba). It’s good but also short and in the past has sold out leaving no tickets for purchase at the door. Get ’em here.
Night time is when the creatures start crawling out. I think the Hall of Fame Night would be great but I don’t have $100 + tax for it. The Edgewater Casino Night sounds like an expensive charity thing at $125 + tax. If anyone goes to either please lemme know how they are.
All of the team parties will be up and running by 4pm. A true CFL fan is going to have fun at any one of them, but I find it’s usually a lot more fun at the Convention Center than it is at a random bar.
Check here for the full party listing.
This is another good night to try and get discount tickets to the concert if you’re interested.
THE night of nights! You missed the Grey Cup Parade because like me, you were sleeping. Get off the bathroom floor and scavenge some food, you can still catch the Cheerleaders from 12:00 – 2:00pm. They have a habit of showing up later at the team parties so don’t sweat it if you missed them.
Grab as much free swag as you can at the Street Festival, then make it your mission to hit up all the free team parties. Work the paid ones after that:
|Lions Den||Vancouver Convention Centre West
1:00pm – 1:00am
|$15 – available at bclions.com or 604.589.ROAR|
|Stamps House||The Bourbon
12:00pm – 8:00pm
|$20 – available at the door|
|Riderville||Vancouver Convention Centre, West Building, Exhibition Hall A
12:00pm – 1:00am
|MontreALS Huddle||Venue Nightclub – 881 Granville Street||$20 – available HERE, by phone at 1-514-787-2525 or at the door.|
|Atlantic Schooners DownEast Kitchen Party||Vancouver Convention Centre, West Building, 2nd Floor
|$20 – available at ticketweb.ca or limited amount at the door.|
|Bombers Team Party||Elephant and Castle
11:00am – 1:00am
|$10 or $25 to skip the line.|
|Spirit of Edmonton||Sheraton Wall Centre – Grand Ballroom
|Double Blue Bash||Mahony and Sons – Burrard Landing (at the Vancouver Convention Centre)
|TigerTown||Malone’s Urban Drinkey and Sports Bar
|Redblacks Team Party||Joey’s Bentall One
I’d say a beer or two at each is a good start and by 6 or 7pm you’ll be hungry again so grab a bite and head back to the CC for the rest of the night if you’re not already there.
If the concert looks busy then it might be worth paying face for tonight, otherwise, sneak in or speak with the scalpers. Many of the locals whom aren’t going to the game but wanna party will meander on over here.
Yeah you’re hung over and your liver is twice its normal size but you have to man up because GREY CUP!!!
If there’s one thing I can’t stress enough about game day it’s this: THE BEER LINE AT BC PLACE CAN BE LONGER THAN THE RATION LINE AT A REFUGEE CAMP!
The difference between a regular game and the GC is that the venue is handling WAY more people than any other game and 90% of them are drinking as much as they can, as quickly as they can. You are not getting drunk here unless you spend the whole game in line buying beer and then going to the bathroom and then buying beer and then going to the bathroom… You have been warned!
My strategy years over has been to purchase a 1L bottle of Coke or Pepsi and replace a generous amount of it with Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum as a pre-gamer. Cops have a very hard time smelling the booze in this mixture, contrary to white or dark rum. I have field tested this more than once in multiple jurisdictions (Vancouver cops can be real dicks).
The only thing you should concern yourself with before the game is the Fan March. However, you can’t just walk up behind it and expect to have it handed to you, it’s very well organized. You need a wrist band to hold the cup. These are handed out by volunteers moving around various parts of the crowd. I find them most often at the back of the march.
Getting a wrist band is fairly easy if you have a great get up since they will seek you out for photos and publicity.
If your wardrobe is lacking then your strategy should be thus:
- Head to the back of the march or gravitate towards one of the volunteers if you see one. They are all dressed the same and stand out. In the above picture they are wearing grey jackets with yellow gloves.
- Be slightly aggressive when you spot one, don’t let someone else’s mom in front of you (I made this mistake once). They only hand out a few at a time before moving on.
- Be passionate! Everyone wants to hold the cup but you’re the biggest fan there is so make it clear to them.
- If that fails hopefully there is someone persuasive in your crew who can intervene on your behalf (“NOOO! You don’t understand what this will do to him, he’s the biggest fan in Tuktoyaktuk… etc”). Thanks Blue Bastardette!
- Make sure your crew is keeping up and ready to take pictures of you and Lord Grey’s legacy. Pose well.
Once your filthy mitts have greased up the Cup make your way over to BC Place. The Street Festival will be in full swing and you can watch a parade of the best fans in the best costumes in all of professional sport. Contests are great here too, in 2011 I witnessed a member of my posse win an expensive pair of seats to the game playing plinko!
Remember what I said about the beer lines? Bathroom’s are the same story. The closest I’ve ever come to pissing my pants as an adult came at Commonwealth in 2010 (not an exaggeration!). Go in with an empty bladder.
The ones I’ve been too have been pretty lame. Everyone is usually spent after the game and goes home. I have no wisdom to impart here. That being said, I’ve never been on the winning side so I really have no right to comment. <your advice here>
Hall of Fame quaterbacks making out with women who aren’t their wives
I had my picture taken with one of the greatest running QBs in CFL history on the streets of Vancouver in 2011 and then watched as he went doorway to doorway throat deep into some 20-something’s mouth.
Player’s coming/going from their hotels
I ran into Geroy Simon last year in Regina while trying to find one of the unicorn-like taxis in a hotel lobby. I also saw a lot of the Bombers coming and going from their hotel in 2011.
Roped off/VIP areas
Venues like the concerts often have roped off VIP areas. If you wind up near one of these things and it’s dead they might let you in, especially if you’re with women. CFL alumni hang out here and they are more than happy to let you try their GC rings on (maybe less so this year) if you patronize them enough.
Players at restaurants
This is fairly obvious since everyone needs to eat. In 2011 I saw a dozen Blue Bombers eating four tables away as I walked over to the men’s room at Shabusen Yakiniku House. I suspect they were here because it’s an all you can eat. Food was great too! I’m sure I’ve missed many more players that I didn’t recognize over the years.
Grey Cup rings at bars
I have on numerous occasions spotted CFL alumni at bars around GC events because they were sporting their rings. Keep an eye out and if you can’t fake interest or knowledge have a couple of good one liners ready for each team. These guys are more than happy to crush a beer or three with a true fan.
I’m arriving in YVR Thursday evening and will be hard to miss. I will be thirsty all weekend so say hello if you spot me and we’ll grab a beer! You can also summon me via twitter @BlueBastardCFL.
Merry Canadian Christmas!!!!!!
See you in a few days you scurvy dogs!