Saturday, 31 May 2008

Facebook Circle Line parties organised in response to tube alcohol ban

Facebook is being used to organise London Underground parties tonight. An alcohol ban will be introduced to the tube and other London Transport from midnight tonight (31st May) and a number of Facebook pages have organised parties on the Circle Line to take place before the alcohol ban is introduced.

Shows some of the largest Facebook Groups organising parties on the tube today

The biggest group is called ‘**LONDON UNDERGROUND'S LAST EVER PARTY!**’ with 10,356 attendees stating a desire to attend on the Facebook event page!

On the ‘London Underground’s Last Ever Party!’ Facebook page the group's founder states:

“Kids and kidettes, it's official - we're getting on the first train to pass Liverpool street after the clock strikes 9PM , second to last carriage, travelling CLOCKWISE! huzzah and thrice huzzah!
I'm going to work out what time to get the same train at each consecutive station - I'm sure we won't be easy to miss though! I reckon it's something like this:

9.02 at tower hill, 9.14 at embankment, 9.20 at Victoria and so on. May be wrong but I'm sure that's a damn good guess. More on this to follow. Spit spot.

This is a terribly genteel affair, what, so let's do this in some serious style. Think cocktail party glamour, think electrogogo glitter craziness, think flamboyant over-the-toppery. Do whatever you like, but let's do it in style!”

Other Facebook Groups organising Circle Line tube parties before the alcohol ban

There are a number of other significant groups such as ‘Party / Flashmob the Underground’ with 1,313 members, ‘London Transport’s Final P*ss Up’ with 883 members and ‘Circle Line Party – Last day of drinking on the tube’ with 791 members.

Interestingly Transport for London / Union Leaders / Police denouncing the plans for the Facebook Circle Line parties has led to widespread, mainstream media coverage which has in turn fuelled word of mouth – resulting in jumps in attendees / group members for the Facebook Circle Line parties. This is poses a difficult dilemma. Clearly the authorities can't just let these sort of events happen with no extra supervision, but reacting draws more attention, increases attendance and potentially creates a bigger problem than there would have been in the first place.

Guardian pre-coverage of Circle Line tube parties:

Telegraph pre-coverage of Circle Line tube parties:

Evening Standard pre-coverage of Circle Line parties:

UPDATE: Sunday 1st June 2008

The Facebook Circle line party pages show how Facebook can spread messages virally and is a highly effective vehicle for generating buzz and spreading word of mouth activity. Last night 'thousands' of people responded and went partying on the London underground. There was a certain inevitability that this would all end in chaos though and media channels that were quick to draw attention to the event are now condemning it the day after:


Guardian - 'Swansong to tube boozing ends in assaults and arrests' -

Times - 'Boris Johnson blamed for Tube party violence' -

The Circle Line cocktail party is another demonstration of how effective social networks can be at distributing viral messages and mobilising users en masse. For advertisers and marketers the challenge is how to harness this to promote products, however things are more difficult when social network activity promotes mass gatherings / spontaneous events with the authorities having to work out how to respond most effectively.

Last year a house was 'trashed' in Tyne and Wear after a party got out of control after being publicised on MySpace (, recently a Spanish villa was 'destroyed' after a party was promoted on Bebo and Facebook
( and last night's tube problems are yet another example of the difficulty of dealing with the unpredictability of unofficial events promoted through social networks.

UPDATE 2: 2nd June 2008

Tom sent me some footage of the Circle Line cocktail party on Friction TV (thank you!) and you can see it below (click on the image): [WARNING: there is a fair amount of bad language in this film]

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