Customs
general

Eye Contact before the First Shot

Everyone participating in a toast or the first drink of the “night” or celebration has to make eye contact with everyone else before taking the drink.

Custom described verbatim by informant:

“We need to make eye contact with each other, all the people who are taking the shot or it’s bad luck if you don’t. I learned that a while back and now I’m all about it. It might be a lingering thought in your mind but I really doubt if there’s any effect on your life if you don’t (laughs) I think people believe it because they don’t want to be sick at the end of the night so they feel like if they make eye contact with people they drink with they’d be better off. It’s like an anti-sickness superstition. We better our opportunity in waking up the next morning not feeling hungover if we make eye contact in the initial shot process. At least in my world. I don’t know about everybody else’s if they believe in something else but, it’s all witchcraft. (laughs then pauses) It’s about good vibes you know and if it’s about good vibes I’m into it.”

Though my informants description is humorous, he insists (at least in small groups) that you must do this every time a toast is made or the first shot is taken or drink is sipped. Maybe he views it as a way to forego getting a hangover and staying lucky as he continues drinking, but eye contact is also a simple way of establishing connection. Since drinking is very much a social activity, insisting on eye contact with everyone drinking with you, whether in celebration or not, gives the practice a deep-seeded feeling of togetherness—“Good vibes” in the words of my informant. Saying its bad luck to do otherwise is an easy way to get people to participate, especially if the flipside is getting sick later. Excluding oneself would be very anti-social, and the threat of bad luck and sickness lingers should you choose not to drink or follow this rule. I think its less about actually believing it and more about being social and connecting with people, if only for a moment.

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