Fun fact: it's actually illegal to drink alcohol on London’s buses and tubes. That may sound facetious to anyone who remembers the booze ban coming into force, ten years ago tomorrow. But while it’s still the policy of TfL that drinking is prohibited, it’s fair to say that anyone new to London would be shocked that a ban exists. You’re still more likely to see a no smoking sign in a carriage than a no drinking sign. And when was the last time you saw a bus driver pull over to eject a top-deck Tyskie swigger? It’s a self-enforcing rule that feels like it kinda exists and kinda doesn’t at the same time.
But while there’s little discussion of the ban today, things were wildly different ten years ago. The booze ban – one of Boris Johnson’s first policies as Mayor – came into effect on a Saturday night. Which, with hindsight, was a terrible idea. Because it gave the cue for thousands of incensed, party-loving, Boris-hating Londoners to mark the occasion with an almighty carnivalesque tube-based sesh.
Things got bubbly in a very 2008 way. There were flash mobs (remember those?) on the Circle Line and in Liverpool Street, 700ml bottles of WKD were shared, people wore day-glo eye make-up, and according to this line from a Guardian report, there was more puking than the last episode of 'The Inbetweeners':
'What started as a tipsy flash-mob ended with arrests, assaults and widespread vomiting'.
Ah, yes. Things definitely escalated. Amidst the partying, six stations were closed and 17 people were arrested as the booze made its presence felt. The next day, newspapers thundered and stations were swept up. And that was that.
Ten years on, we thought the best way to remind ourselves of that heady evening would be to dig into the photo archives. Here's a snapshot of the evening, as taken by Yusuf Ozkizil.