Saturday, 22 March 2008

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning

Lazy day for me. Late in the evening, I am snuggled up on the sofa waiting for the 'come and get us' phone call.

They do not 'do' prom dances here. And LeeLee got quite jealous when first her cousin(s) and then her best friend in the UK went to their proms at college.

Proms are one of those things - you deride them until your one comes around......

Here, they have cents jours du Bac parties for students in premiere and terminale classes at lycee. Basically to 'celebrate' that there are just one hundred days until their Baccalauréat exams - as in PANIC!

For those in premiere (as LeeLee is) - 100 days until their French Bac.
For terminale - until their full Bac.

The lycee organises the party in conjunction with a group of students. Each student pays 10 euros for a ticket (in advance) which gets them a professional disc jockey, and free food/alcohol all evening - from 20:00 until 3:00am the next day.

Seven hours of free booze?! One hundred and fifty 17/18 year olds?! Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me!!

It is restricted to students in these two classes, and they are allowed to buy tickets for boyfriends/girlfriends provided they are over the age of 17. So LeeLee could not take Kevin - one of the problems of having a toyboy!

LeeLee and two friends who live locally are going together - one of the other parents offered to take them, and I am on pick-up 3:00am unless she calls earlier.

Leading up to D-Day, I pester her to get an address for where the party is.

But Mum, everyone says it is easy to find! It's at the Salle de Fetes at Le Bousquet d'Orb. You cannot miss it....

Yeh, right! Not a chance am I driving to a little town half an hour away at 3am in the morning with no idea where the salle is!

In the 30 minutes before she is due at her friend's house, she gets FIVE completely different directions from five different friends......

Finally we agree that she will call me when she gets there with the name of the road. Which brings us to the issue of her phone. Yes, it is charged. No, it has no credit. She is already in debt to us for the ticket price, and buying the minimum 10 euro credit will wipe out the rest of her next month's allowance.

OK. Compromise time. LeeLee will take Richard's phone. And I will travel with her's in the car - at least it does SOS if I need it!!!

2:15 am LeeLee calls to say - come and get us. Things are starting to get nasty. Ok I am on my way....

I drove for half an hour, along the Orb valley, from one town to the next. In that time, I saw one other car. ONE other car, and that was in the middle of Bedarieux - the biggest town in our region. I did not see a single person on the streets, no drunks - and all this in a country with 24 hour drinking. For goodness sake - this was Saturday night, Sunday morning of a holiday weekend! Incredible!

I drove into the town, expecting to hear the party before I even saw all the drunk teenagers causing havoc on the streets after nearly seven hours of free drink. How wrong can you be. I keep forgetting this is not the UK!

When LeeLee said it was getting nasty what she meant was, yes, a few people were starting to throw up and couples were beginning to bicker. There was no violence what so ever and no wandering away from the salle causing problems in the town.

It was quite sweet to listen to the three 17 year old friends in the back of the car on the way home, who had had a super wonderful time, commenting on 'those idiots who drank too much and ended up chucking'.

I was impressed.

Students were manning the door and no one (and I mean NO ONE) was allowed in if they did not have a ticket. Each ticket holder was matched against a list of names of people who had bought the tickets, and if they were not known personally by those on the door - they were asked for ID. Each student allowed through the door, had a wristband put on them so that they could go outside and smoke during the evening - and be let in again. At 1:00am the teachers turned up and stayed until the end, to make sure nothing untoward happened. One pane of glass got broken in the door, when it banged shut in the wind. That was it. That was all the damage done by 150 students drinking free booze for seven hours!

Free drinks were biere, cocktails mixed to order, spirits, mixers and fruit juice. The full gamut....but still no problems?!

Many drove themselves there on mopeds, so did not drink (I WAS impressed!). Everyone had a lift organised to get home, many car-sharing with parent-chauffeurs.

There were 150 students at the party, and no trouble?! No fights?!

When I arrived, there were some students standing around on the corner and in the square waiting for their lifts. There was no singing, no loud voices. I doubt any one in the town knew what was going on. Bizarre!

All in all, a totally different experience to what we were used to, and expected. How on earth will LeeLee cope in the UK?! It will be a MAJOR culture shock. It worries Richard and I.

During my drive there and back, I was on the look out. For the police.

I could just imagine - night duty, bored out of their mind with nothing to do on a Saturday night Sunday morning of a holiday weekend, and only one car on the road.

I would have been a tempting 'pull' (in the car sense!!). Especially since I have headlights that point to the left instead of the right!

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