'Blackout Parties' Draw Inebriated Students, Police and Ambulances

PHOTO: A Boston Barstool Blackout event is seen in this undated file photo.PlayBarstool Blackout Tour
WATCH 'Barstool Blackout Tour' Shut Down in N.J.

When 24 young adults were hospitalized for intoxication at a dance party in upscale Montclair, N.J., last week, the promoters of the party, the Barstool Blackout Tour, added another blemish to their record of alcohol-fueled party events.

The party, which bills itself as a laser-light and electronic dance music show, is part of a 40-city concert tour created by Barstool U, a website geared toward young men with content focusing on sports and pictures of women.

More than 2,500 young adults - many of them students from nearby Montclair State University - arrived at the venue sporting neon outfits and, according to Montclair police, high levels of intoxication.

Police quickly decided to cancel the event as they watched thousands of inebriated people pushing and shouting to get into the theater, according to Police Chief David Sabagh. As police tried to disperse the crowds, they transported two dozen individuals to hospitals for alcohol-related illnesses, he said.

"We made the determination to shut it down, and then deployed ambulances. People started fighting with the police, so there were a half-dozen arrests, and 24 people hospitalized. Most cases were, apparently, young females passed out or who had fallen because of their level of intoxication," Sabagh said.

Barstool has had problems like the one in Montclair in the past. In Huntington, N.Y., earlier in March, a Barstool Blackout show was canceled at 11:30 p.m., seven arrests were made, and nine individuals were treated, many for alcohol-related incidences.

Boston police made one arrest and sent an undisclosed number to the hospital for alcohol poisoning during a March show, and more than 300 fake IDs were confiscated by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission during a February party.

The Blackout Tour, which Barstool U created for the 2011-2012 school year, is named for the black light portion of the show, and not the act of getting "black out drunk," according to its founder Dave Portnoy. The tour travels to cities and college towns on the East Coast and in the Midwest, including Lehigh and East Stroudsburgh,Pa., Charlotte, N.C., Chicago and Detroit.

"Almost no drinking is happening at it. It's a terrible bar night," Portnoy told ABCNews.com. "It's not like you're out at a bar for a typical night or a concert. It's high energy fast music. From when the show starts to when the show ends, nobody moves, it's just dancing the entire time. It's not conducive to holding a beer or drinking during the concert."

A search on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, however, shows that drinking and Barstool Blackout events seem to go hand-in-hand.

Twitter user @MackFreedman wrote, "Schedule for today: pump the biceps, consume as much alcohol as possible, listerine to the face...#barstoolblackout" ahead of a concert in Boston on Saturday.

Another, @SallyF1190, wrote, "200th tweet goes out to not remembering #barstoolblackout beginsssss.....now"

The official Barstool Blackout Tour page for Northeastern University on Facebook warns guests to "be quiet, don't have bottles, and look as sober as possible," while waiting in line to enter.

Portnoy, however, said his company and the Blackout Tour have little to do with drinking.

"No, I haven't noticed (attendees drinking heavily). I'm sure there's a few kids that drink before hand, but it's no different than any other concert or sporting event that goes on in the country. If people are going to pre-game, they're not doing it any differently," he said.

Barstool Blackout Parties Alarm Police

As the founder of the Barstool website, Portnoy is no stranger to controversy. The site publishes photos of nearly nude women in "Guess that A.." and "Smokeshow of the Day," columns each day, and many Barstool Blackout parties have been protested by women's groups on college campuses in reaction to Portnoy's inflammatory comments about rape and crude comments about women.

He followed up one comment by writing, "Just to make friends with the feminists I'd like to reiterate that we don't condone rape of any kind at our Blackout Parties in mid January. However if a chick passes out, that's a grey area."

None of the Barstool Blackout parties are hosted by the universities they are marketed to, according to the schedule posted on BarstoolU.com.

The director of student life at Montclair State University told news website BaristaNet that they initially considered hosting the Barstool Blackout Tour on campus, but decided it was too expensive.

A dance party planned for Fairfield, Conn., this week was cancelled after the venue and promoters realized that students at the two local colleges they were trying to attract -- Fairfield University and Sacred Heart -- would be on spring break during the planned date.

The concert immediately following the one in Montclair was held at Roseland Ballroom in New York City on Friday, March 31. NYPD officers said only one arrest and one case of first aid assistance were made the event, which Portnoy described as going off without a hitch.

The tour will play one more show in Boston this week before heading south for the remainder of the school year. Parties are already planned for September, according to the Facebook page for the Tour, which advertise the addition of "foam parties."