Paris police ban mass "Facebook aperitif" party

PARIS (Reuters) - A mass cocktail party organized over the internet and planned to take place in Paris this Sunday cannot go ahead due to an existing ban on drinking alcohol in the Champ de Mars area, police said on Thursday.

Last week, a man fell to his death after taking part in a cocktail evening which was set up over online social network Facebook and drew almost 10,000 revelers. The death was the first on record as a result of so-called “Facebook aperitifs.”

Such parties take place across France and often turn into huge drinking binges, alarming the authorities who are struggling to curb the phenomenon.

“The consumption of alcohol being permanently forbidden on the Champ de Mars, ‘giant cocktails’ cannot take place there on the evening of Sunday, May 23,” Paris police said in a statement.

The Champ de Mars are the grounds around the Eiffel Tower.

“For security reasons, the police will also ban the carrying and holding of bottles and glass containers on the site and surrounding areas,” the statement added.

The police said that all necessary measures would be taken to cope with attempts to hold the drinking event, but added that they were ready to look into allowing “convivial cocktails” if they took place in a suitable area and at a reasonable time. Fifty-eight giant cocktail parties have been held in France so far, authorities say, with 32 more planned, including the one in Paris on May 23.

French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux on Wednesday ruled out banning mass cocktail parties organized online as long as they were flagged in advance and supervised. (Reporting by Gerard Bon; Writing by Sophie Taylor; Editing by Mark Heinrich)