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Over the past decade the consumption of alcohol by British youth has become the subject of considerable debate and discussion. In light of the expansion of Britain’s night-time economy, the liberalisation of licensing hours in 2005, a renewed interest in town and city centres at night, and considerable media focus on anti-social behaviour, a series of policy and research interventions have attempted to understand and minimise the use of alcohol by under 18s.

 

This paper presents preliminary findings from one such piece of research. Titled ‘Park to Club: Youth, Alcohol and Place’, the study was conducted on behalf of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a UK based social policy and research charity. The study examined the extent to which ‘place’ shaped alcohol consumption and leisure activities.

 

The discussion focuses on two key points to have emerged from the study; the relatively new drinking ritual known as ‘pre-loading’ and the gendered nature of youth leisure activities – both spatially and temporally. Using Angela McRobbie’s early work on ‘bedroom culture’, we explore the importance of the domestic realm to young women’s, and increasingly young men’s, leisure before turning to consider the role of alcohol in facilitating new forms of sociality and, as a result, new configurations of the gendered, domestic realm.