They detailed the vast differences in the way people from diverse cultures behave after excessive alcohol. In contrast to nearby tribes, for example, the Yuruna Indians in the Xingu region of Brazil would become exceptionally reserved when rendered sideways by large helpings of moonshine. The Camba of eastern Bolivia would drink excessively twice a month. Sitting in a circle, they would toast one another, more lavishly with each pop.
In a Japanese island village, Takashima, people knew a drinking occasion had gone completely off the dials if villagers began to sing or, wilder still, to dance. Aggression, sexual or otherwise, was unheard of during these sessions.
Western cultures are more likely to excuse binge drinking as a needed mental vacation. “An awful lot of cultures have institutionalized bingeing as a kind of time out like Mardi Gras or New Year’s Eve, a culturally recognized period where a certain amount of acting out is acceptable,” said Dwight Heath, emeritus professor of anthropology at Brown.