Words by Nadia Zaperi Art by Melody Ou
If you’re Australian, you have probably heard of the shoey.
It’s a whole different story when you’re an international student in Australia. We The Kings was performing at 170 Russell, and let’s just say I learned a few new things about Australia within that single night.
As the band were preparing for their next song, a man started shouting “Shoey! Shoey! Shoey!” Soon enough, the entire room began chanting the same thing. The chant became louder and stronger. Slowly, tension starts to fill the room, or perhaps it was just me, the nervous Asian chick who had no idea what shoey meant. The next moment, I see the bass player removing his trainer and pouring his beer into it followed by him tipping the shoe up and chugging it. If you were at the gig and remember seeing a girl freaking out, that would be me. From where I come from, we drink from glasses. So you would understand my shock when I see a grown man drinking from what seemed like a year-old shoe.
Every Australian would know what a shoey is, but have you guys thought about the story behind it? I got very curious and have done my fair share of research. I’ve talked to the locals here enough to know how it came about and why people do it. For those who are as clueless as me, drinking from shoes, also referred to as shoey, is a popular ritual in Australia. It’s pretty simple. First, you get a shoe. Second, you pour your alcoholic drink into the chosen shoe. Third, you tip up the shoe and drink the alcohol from the shoe (preferably chugging it all at once). People tend to do it at events, festivals, games, music gigs or parties. They either do it for a dare, for a laugh or simply to celebrate. Alcohol plays an integral part in the Aussie culture, so it’s unsurprising that the Aussies have found an unconventional way to drink it. But how did it come about?
The practice is thought to have originated in 1902 at the Everleigh Club, a high-class brothel in Chicago. When a dancer’s slipper fell, a member of Prince Henry of Prussia’s entourage picked it up and used it to drink champagne. It is also thought to be an old military tradition in Germany where the soldiers would drink from the general’s boot after a victory. Could it then be called a sweaty victory? Ba dum tss. German soldiers were also said to pass around a leather boot filled with beer to bring good luck before a battle. Shoey, however, went mainstream in Australia in 2015 when Supercars driver David Reynolds won the first non-endurance race of his career. He celebrated by drinking champagne from his shoe on the stage. A year later, Daniel Ricciardo, an Australian racing driver introduced the trend to Formula One, as he celebrated by performing a champagne shoey at the German Grand Prix. Ricciardo credits the creation of the shoey to a few Australians called the Mad Hueys, a crew led by Shaun and Dean Harrington, twins from Coolangatta in Queensland. They’re a group of blokes who travel the world surfing, fishing and are obsessed with drinking.
We’ve seen Aussies doing it at parties, Aussie racing drivers doing it at international events and even Aussie bands doing it in their music videos – is it purely an Australian thing to do? The only non-Australians I’ve found online performing a shoey was Post Malone and We The Kings – both doing it in Australia. Should it be kept as an Australian tradition only, or shared with other parts of the world? You decide. But, thanks for introducing this riveting tradition to a fellow international student. It’ll definitely be one of the things I remember when I think of Australia, aside from Vegemite, but let’s save that for another story.