Vodka Yonic features a rotating cast of women and nonbinary writers from around the world sharing stories that are alternately humorous, sobering, intellectual, erotic, religious or painfully personal. You never know what you’ll find in this column, but we hope this potent mix of stories encourages conversation.
My office is located on a route traveled by various vehicles that cater to bachelorette parties visiting Nashville. Throughout the day, groups of women are carried along by convertible school buses, tractors and party barges. Some dangle their legs in hot tubs. Others hang precariously out of the beds of pickup trucks.
They are taking in a city that’s not their own, elevated above the downtown crowds. They scream their songs into the void. They are unashamed. They feel untouchable.
Actually, women don’t get to feel that way very often. And many locals take any opportunity to bring them down a peg. Complaining about bachelorettes is meant to be a point of bonding — like, “We may have our differences, but at least we’re not them.”But it never quite feels that way to me.
I say, “It’s just women having fun — why does it bother you so much?”
Nashville has its issues: rapid gentrification, a lack of affordable housing, racism, unjust evictions, insufficient transportation infrastructure, education inequality. The list goes on. Too many of the city’s dollars have gone away from addressing these problems and toward making Nashville a hospitable place for tourists. A bachelorette party that pops in for a weekend of fun does not rank among Nashville’s most pressing challenges — but locals use the women as scapegoats, blaming them for problems they didn’t create and can’t solve.
When I hear the passing party bus blasting “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy),” bachelorettes are not interfering with my work — which is at a nonprofit that seeks to elevate the voices of people experiencing homelessness in this city. The brunch spots, boutiques and bars that have grown to support bachelorette business are easy to find, and also easy to avoid if you wish.
Maybe the discomfort among locals is because Nashville has become a place lots of people want to be. Hell, I’m one of them. I moved here four years ago. Like many of the women on the buses, and many of the people I meet here, I came from my home state and wanted to be a part of something bigger, something different from my reality growing up. Seeing the influx of tourists as well as transplants has to be difficult for people who are from this city, but those who are truly left behind by Nashville’s growth have bigger fish to fry — they’re trying to figure out how to survive.
The outfit-coordinating, fringed, blinged, cowboy-hatted and boot-clad women are not the problem. To some, they represent what’s wrong with Nashville, but to me, they represent a monumental experience for womankind.
Anytime I see a bride-to-be wearing a veil at the bar, I stop to congratulate her. She deserves this opportunity to wear it and cut loose with her friends. She’s found someone she wants to love, who wants to love her. I think of the heartbreak she must have endured to get there, and the heartbreak that’s part of my story as I long to be in the same position as her someday. Things are about to change for her in a big way, and it’s not wrong for her to mark that.
For the women who have gathered with her — who come from different parts of her life to try to get along, who pay for the flights and the overpriced Airbnb and the brunches and the matching outfits — they know everything is about to change, too. When that friend gets married, someone else is going to come first in her life.
I’m planning my first bachelorette party for a close friend. I know it’s the first of many I’ll participate in. My closest people are preparing to enter a new phase of life, and I have no idea how soon I’ll get to follow them. As much as they may promise me that things won’t change, our relationships will change, at least a little bit.
With all of those dynamics and emotions, bachelorette outings get messy. The women drink, they fight, they scream the lyrics of Shania Twain songs, and they lose their shoes as they try and work through it all.
If women want to gather here in Nashville, a city that’s not their own, and be messy together, I say welcome. At most, it’s a sacred experience marking a big change. At the least, it’s just women having fun.