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Updated at 6:42 p.m. ET: A group that puts on “barstool blackout” parties on college campuses and at other venues across the country says it’s not to blame for partygoers who drink too much and wind up in the hospital.
Nine people who were among a crowd of about 1,600 attending a party Saturday night at the Paramount in Huntington, N.Y., were taken by ambulances to the hospital, NBCNewYork.com reported. Nearly all showed symptoms of alcohol poisoning, said Suffolk County police Lt. Joseph Condolff.
The party was sponsored by Barstool U, which promotes and stages DJ and dance parties for college students.
"I don't think they should be promoting this," Lauren Shea, a social worker with the Daytop Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Center in Huntington Station, told NBCNewYork.com.
"Most people think it's a fun time, but when you black out from drinking, that's a problem," said Shea.
Barstool U was started by University of Michigan graduate David “El Presidente” Portnoy, founder of Barstool Sports, a website described in a Boston Magazine article as a widely read “sports/smut site” that’s a cross between ESPN and “Girls Gone Wild.”
Portnoy on Wednesday refuted the charge that “blackout” shows encourage college students to drink until they puke their guts or pass out. "People who say that are really disconnected with what we do," he told msnbc.com.
He said "blackout" refers to the venues being lit with black lights.
"It's an electric dance music party with black lights. You dress in all-white to reflect off the black lights," Portnoy explained.
"I really don’t think anybody in our demographic who has come to our parties is under any confusion that the goal is to drink and pass out."
A post on barstoolsports.com expounds on the fallout from the Long Island show:
Anyway this is just another classic example of out of touch ugly people, smug reporters, and idiot cops talking about something that they have no idea what they are talking about. For the 9 millionth time our Blackout shows don’t encourage kids to get blackout drunk. It’s called a blackout party because it’s a blacklight party. We say it time and time again. Everybody who comes to our event knows that. There isn’t even that much drinking at our events. Everybody is just dancing for 3 hours straight. That’s the opposite of blacking out. If anything a kid who was drunk walking into our show would sober up. If a person wants to truly blackout they’ll stay in their dorm room or go drink in the woods. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper and easier that way. You don’t pay 25 bucks to go to an electric dance music party to blackout.
The post added:
If a kid blacks out before our concert or in his dorm he has nobody to blame but himself period. We don’t encourage it, facilitate it, or have anything to do with it. Stop pointing the finger at other people and start teaching kids to take responsibility for their actions. We just throw awesome concerts that 99.9% of the people who attend have one of the best nights of their lives.
And for good measure, Barstool posted its own YouTube video of the Long Island party, which it says ended prematurely after a fire alarm went off 45 minutes into the show.
According to Barstool U’s website, several upcoming shows on the East Coast in March and April have already sold out.
Several visitors to the Barstool U website agreed with Portnoy’s view. One with the username “herpstoolderp” commented:
Anyone getting blackout drunk is making their own decision, it's not like Barstool is encouraging them to get blackout drunk, because what kind of @!$%#ing show would that be, with a bunch of passed out idiots? Honestly pres, you need to just say "We expect you to have a good time while drinking responsibly."
NBCNewYork.com and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.
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