Front, side, and back-loading: Patrons’ rationales for consuming alcohol

Published: August 2009

Aims: To examine motivations for consumption of alcohol purchased off-trade when visiting on-trade licensed premises.

Methods: In-depth interviews were conducted with nightclub patrons who also completed a drinking diary, detailing the time and place their previous week’s alcohol consumption. Results: Drinking before entering nightclubs was the norm, although the location and extent of this ‘front-loading’ varied. Consuming alcohol purchased elsewhere while attending nightclubs (‘side-loading’) or continued drinking after leaving these premises (‘back-loading’) were reported much less frequently. Interviewees reported a range of psychosocial motives for consuming alcohol before or after night-club attendance, rather than a single reason (e.g. cost) Conclusions: The findings of this research imply that off-premises alcohol consumption by night-clubbers is widespread and motivated as much by the structure of the night-time economy as by price differentials between competing sectors of the licensed trade.

Authors / Editors

Research Themes

Violence, Drugs and Alcohol