Central/Eastern Europe: Prague Stag Nights
by Elizabeth Johnson
November 6, 2012
When friends living in Eastern European nations began complaining of noisy, drunken tourists in their historical towns, American photojournalist Amanda Rivkin wanted to dig deeper.
In Prague, Czech Republic, Rivkin tagged along for two “stag,” or bachelor, weekends with men from the Netherlands and England celebrating the upcoming marriage of their respective friends.
Many of the stag parties hop to different strip clubs set up within a packaged tour. Some of the bars in the city no longer allow stag parties, so they are generally confined to one area of town.
It’s a cheap weekend getaway for many Western Europeans. The country’s capital is “one of Europe’s premier tourist destinations,” according to Lonely Planet.
Locals appreciate the economic boost, Rivkin said, but they tend to avoid the areas where the stag parties take place. Her friends have told her stories of being assaulted on the streets by groups of drunken men.
Rivkin sees Eastern Europe transitioning still from the post-Berlin Wall era, and the stag parties are part of those growing pains.
"Nothing like this existed under communism, both in terms of local culture and what many imagined contact with the West would look and feel like," she said. "The reason why I did this story is that it reflects the some less savory aspects of conditions and attitudes of Western Europe towards 'new Europe.' "
The type of industry that tourism in the area cultivates is the bigger question, Rivkin said.
“Personally, I think it’s a shame the first exposure for people in the West is through various forms of sex tourism,” she said. “Surely this region has other things to offer.”
Stag nights are mostly controlled and safe, and she said she never felt compromised. It reminded her of being in college, hanging out with a large group of guys.
She felt like she stood out as a woman in these clubs, so she wore dark clothing to prevent being noticed as she photographed. Any nervousness she felt was camera-related, she said.
“It was kind of fun to explore the other side of something I’ve heard about from young professional females,” she said.