Disclaimer: The CMA Fest Drinking Game is for professionals who are aware of the consequences of mixing thousands of watts of Jason Aldean with 100-degree temperatures and copious amounts of whiskey — or someone who likes watching what happens when that concoction is thrown into a blender and turned loose on Music City, USA.
As a downtown resident of Nashville for the past six years, I have learned to accept that my life is pretty much tossed into chaos this week. I live nine stories above the fray on the corner of Demonbreun Street and 3rd Avenue with a perfect view of the debauchery that will ensue as 200,000 redn… ugh, tourists descend upon my beloved city for the annual CMA Music Fest.
Most of my roads are blocked, my favorite watering holes are uninhabitable and getting to my office — much less the local grocery store — is virtually impossible for the next few days. So to salvage our sanity, my neighbors and I normally stock pile food and booze (check) for the weekend and have developed our own way to enjoy CMA Fest.
The CMA Fest Drinking Game allows us to experience the decadence without ever actually leaving the building.
(Of course, the take home version can be played on any street corner or in any bar in Nashville. For the best downtown viewing, head to the bars with open windows near the street, set up shop and enjoy. I recommend Broadway Brewhouse, Pub 5’s top floor or Rock Bottom’s rooftop patio, all three are prime people watching territory and each has a great beer selection.)
American flag bandana: 2 drinks
Who doesn’t love ‘Merica? This CMA staple can be applied to the forehead a la Duck Dynasty or perhaps the upper arm (I have no idea why). Both men and women find the urge to support our great nation by covering themselves in the Stars and Stripes while getting tanked on Bushwackers. Two drinks for a bandana actually on the head, and one drink for the sacred Red, White and Blue anywhere else on the person.
Officially licensed tattoo: 1 drink
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Officially licensed tattoos would include any school or sports team decal or logo — like, say, a giant orange power-T, script “A” or flaming thumbtack. It also includes any trademarked branding — perhaps a Budweiser bowtie or Mickey-D golden arch. The more mass-produced the product, the more drinks. Adjust your scale accordingly.
Sleeveless Affliction shirt: 5 drinks
A regular sleeveless shirt won’t do since many of the CMA goers are already sporting the farmer’s tan special and we don’t want to end up on stage at Paradise Park screaming “Chicken Fried” when the lights come on at 2:50 a.m. No, in order to pass out drinks, one must spot the rare sleeveless Affliction shirt. Generally, this shirt is bedazzled and looks like, well, A.J. McCarron’s chest. You know it when you see it. For the more serious players, give out one drink for ANY Affliction T’s spotted.
Bizarre cowboy gear: 1 drink
The official female tourist costume in downtown Nashville involves cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and often an obnoxiously bright dress of some kind. So we would all be face down on the third floor of Honky Tonk Central covered in Jager bombs if we drank every time we saw cowboy boots or a straw hat. No, this requires some added flair. So we hand out one drink for blue, red, green, yellow or orange boots/hats and two drinks for pink, purple or specially trademarked boots/hats of any kind (Roll Tide).
Grown men wearing a jersey: 1 drink
Since the right jersey on the right woman can look downright sensational, this one is reserved for just the male species. Any grown male — anyone who’s not a teenager in our version — wearing a sports jersey of any kind in public is cause for handing out drinks. This one can be tough to track and will likely be the most prevalent.
Grown men wearing jorts: 2 drinks
Much like the jerseys, the right jorts on the right woman can look outstanding, so this one applies only to men as well. Drink more if the jorts in question are A) cut-off jorts or B) cargo jorts.
Camouflage wife-beater: 8 drinks
This one is a rare and special sight and can be adapted to include any “custom” wife-beaters (yes, there is such a thing) or any non-traditional camo-ed gear (purses, watches, bandanas, etc). The flimsy tank top, traditionally white, will be a common sight so I challenge your group to drink only when the rarest and special-est of wife-beaters is spotted. My personal favorite is the camo edition. (If spotted, please take a picture and send it to us).
Motorized vehicular accident: 10 drinks
Simply spotting the aftermath of any such incident can count for at least 4-5 drinks, but actually watching the accident take place in real time is rare and worth more. “Motorized,” in our game, includes anything that is moving at a pace faster than the average human can walk. So this include bikes, skateboards, golf carts, rickshaws, horse and carriage, motorized scooter or even the drivable beer cooler. Last year, we watched a couple fight about who should drive before the woman backed out of the parking spot and popped her tire on a beer bottle. Changing a tire at 1 a.m. didn’t look like fun.
Missing clothing: 5 drinks
If someone is so intoxicated that they no longer have on an imperative item of clothing — pants or shoes for men — then you have a winner. This rule can be adjusted to include, say, things like a shirtless man INSIDE a local establishment — which isn’t allowed and highly unlikely. In which case, award more drinks. Any woman using her underwear as clothing is a big hit as well (again, pictures please).
Inappropriate sleeping: 7 drinks
People pass out everywhere in downtown Nashville. On park benches, at the bar, in a gutter, in their car, in the grass (when available), at the dinner table and even in the fountain at The Symphony (I ‘ve seen it). Tip: Monitor the alleyways or head to Riverfront Park, the Hilton Park or the Shelby Street Walking Bridge for your best viewing experience. The earlier in the day, the more drinks we award as it’s a much more impressive feat to be wasteface at noon than 11 p.m.
Civilian on stage: 4-7 drinks
Nearly every bar downtown has a stage and house band. Generally, women are encouraged to get on stage, dance and sing along. Conversely, men jumping on stage is usually frowned upon and normally results in a small drunken dude vs. large sober dude altercation. Four drinks for someone getting yanked off stage but seven if someone grabs the mic to belt out a line from “Family Tradition.” Legend’s, Rippy’s, Tootsie’s, The Stage, Paradise Park and Honky Tonk Central are the top candidates for on-stage incidents.
Matching costumes: 4 drinks
In the event that at least five people are spotted wearing identical gear (women call these outfits), then drinks must be handed out. Anyone who’s ever seen a bachelorette party wandering around downtown Nashville knows what I am talking about here. You can adjust this number as you see fit but we play with a 5-person minimum. Dressing alike in public is rarely approved behavior.
Male Fight: Finish your drink
With the number of armed policemen meandering around downtown this weekend, this particular occurrence is the most precious in our game. There are always one or two dust-ups somewhere and if you are lucky enough to witness one, your competitors must immediately finish their drinks. (Generally fights are fairly tame but entertaining due to an overall lack of coordination. At least, until someone picks up a shovel…)
Female Fight: Finish your drink, take a shot and immediately visit OutkickTheCoverage.com for complete coverage.
There are many other rules that have yet to be discovered, so do not be afraid to invent new regulations, take pictures and tweet them to @theoktc. We encourage you to make it your own.
My biggest piece of advice to enjoy CMA Fest to its fullest? Act like you’ve been there before. You’ll have a blast and see things you’ve never seen. I promise.
Follow Braden on Twitter @BradenGall