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VOL. 46 | NO. 24 | Friday, June 17, 2022

Scottsdale? Woo-hoo! Partay! Go west, young bachelorettes

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It’s a competition many folks in Nashville would be more than happy to lose. Including me.

A recent article in The New York Times positioned Scottsdale, Arizona, as the rising star on the bachelorette party scene. (Of course, this is the same paper that, in 2013, helped kick off the current situation by declaring Nashville the latest “It” city.)

Under the subhead “The New Nashville,” the article had this to say about our southwestern counterpart, citing figures from Bach, an app used for planning parties:

“By 2021, the city had ranked as the second-most-popular bachelorette destination in the country. More popular than mainstays like Las Vegas, Miami and Palm Springs, California, Scottsdale was second only to Nashville, the breakout bachelorette star of the 2010s.”

Last year, it went on, Scottsdale had more than 3,600 bachelorette parties, compared with 13,000 or so in Nashville. And this year’s figures were even more eye-opening: 11,600 parties for Scottsdale; 30,000 for Nashville.

Sounds a bit incredible – 30,000 bachelorette parties? A number would mean more than 500 parties every week? Are we really that festive?

So I got in touch with the go-to tourism guy, Butch Spyridon, longtime chief executive of the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. He basically shrugged.

“We don’t track those numbers, and we don’t market to bachelorettes,” he said in an email response. “We take Bach at their word.”

He did add this, though: “We estimate that bachelorettes make up about 2% of our annual visitation.”

Sounds almost negligible: Only 1 of every 50 visitors. But when you consider the high-water mark for Nashville tourism is 16.1 million visitors in 2019 – before Covid and its attendant restrictions started taking their toll – that’s roughly 320,000 theme-dressed, glitter-speckled young women boozily woo-hooing their way around Lower Broad and environs.

Not all at the same time, of course, but still a considerable presence.

Is the tide turning Arizona’s way?

As it happens, I know a thing or two about Scottsdale, having visited a half-dozen times or so. In particular, I know Old Town, the roughly one-square-mile area that has become the focal point of the bachelorette experience.

It’s a great place to serve as home base for Cactus League Spring Training games, which is what gets me to town: 10 stadiums and 15 teams, all within easy driving range, as opposed to Florida’s scattering of facilities on two coasts.

But I rather doubt the young bachelorettes in Arizona are filling the stands to sing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” while swilling beer and discussing the infield fly rule. For one thing, Spring Training games present a relatively small window – 30 days or so – in a bachelorette season that, The Times reports, “is roughly from Presidents’ Day weekend in February through the summer solstice in June.”

Instead of baseball, The Times states, Scottsdale bachelorettes occupy themselves with activities such as hot-air balloon rides, desert tours, the familiar pedal bars and private parties with services including cocktail-making classes, cabana boys, DJs and private fitness instruction.

I’m surprised by the number of outdoor activities, considering Scottsdale resembles the surface of Mercury for much of the year. But what’s a little third-degree sunburn when you’re having a good time?

By the way, in case you’re wondering – as I was – where bachelors are going for their final fling parties, the answer isn’t as clear. But the publication TimeOut lists New Orleans in the No. 1 slot, followed by Portland, Oregon, Miami; Charleston, South Carolina, and Los Angeles in the Top 5.

Nashville doesn’t even make the 18-city ranking, though Memphis comes in at 14.

I didn’t ask Spyridon specifically, but my guess is that he would just as soon not add a bunch of rowdy, prenuptial guys to Nashville’s female-centric mix.

“We are happy to welcome all kinds of visitors to Nashville,” he said, “but our biggest concern is that certain party behavior downtown is hurting our convention business, which is a significant 40% of our visitation.”

As for the bachelorettes, I don’t have to guess his position. It’s the same as mine:

“We welcome Scottsdale to the hunt and we hope they overtake us.”

Joe Rogers is a former writer for The Tennessean and editor for The New York Times. He is retired and living in Nashville. He can be reached at jrogink@gmail.com

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