You thought beer could only be consumed from a glass? Well here’s another way to see it. The shoey is quickly becoming Australia's new drinking trend. If you've ever seen someone do a shoey, it was either at a live music event or even a sporting event (hi there, Daniel Ricciardo!), or you may have done one with your mates on a guys night out if you live in Australia.
But what exactly is a shoey, where did it come from, and how do you do one? Everything you need to know about the shoey is right here.
What is a shoey?
As a warning, if you're easily grossed out, you should probably stop reading now. While some may find the shoey to be an unmatched source of amusement, others may find it to be totally revolting.
To do a shoey, you pour your drink, which is usually beer, into your own or someone else's shoe, and then chug it down in one.
Although the shoey did not originate in Australia, it has quickly become an indisputable part of its popular culture.
What is the origin of the shoey?
The idea that drinking from a shoe or boot can bring good fortune actually dates back to the Middle Ages. An Ethiopian tale suggests the Virgin Mary filled her shoe with water to let a thirsty dog drink, the Prophet Muhammad is also described performing similar acts of mercy.
However, the shoey as an act has its beginnings in 1800s Germany. During World War I, German soldiers were said to pass around a leather boot filled with beer, to bring good luck before a battle. The drinkers would flick the boot before and after taking a drink from it. Other historical references to the boot say that German soldiers would force new recruits to drink beer from a boot as part of their initiation process, and that soldiers were also drunk beer from their General's boot after a battle victory. This technique supposedly influenced the creation of the Bierstiefel boot-shaped glass.
According to John R. Schmidt's book On This Day in Chicago History, the behavior of drinking champagne from a lady's slipper was common in the twentieth century. The act is said to have first occurred in the US in 1902 in a Chicago brothel. One of the dancers' slippers had fallen to the floor, only to be scooped up by a member of Prince Henry of Prussia's entourage who allegedly drank champagne from it.
Shoey in Formula One
While the act of doing a shoey is not exclusive to Australia, it is the most well-known country to promote it nowadays. Daniel Ricciardo, the guy responsible for introducing the shoey to Formula One, is possibly the most high-profile sporting figure to do one.
Lets go one step back wards to see Riccardo’s motivation first. Ryal Harris, three-time V8 Utes champion, was the first racing driver to do a shoey after winning at Barbagallo 2016. This went largely unnoticed. Most Australians had never seen a shoey until V8 Supercar driver David Reynolds, Supercars racing driver, did one after winning the second race at Darwin's Hidden Valley later that year.
Reynolds had just finished a 70-lap race outside in 35-degree heat, and he'd been racing in that shoe for the previous 12 months. "I can't, I just can't," Reynolds responded when asked why by analyst Mark Skaife. Reynolds is known for behaving in this manner. In 2014, he threw pot plants off the podium to his squad to commemorate his first ever race win on the Gold Coast.
Daniel Ricciardo was motivated to do a shoey as a result of this. He had promised himself he would do one if he won a race the sameyear, but after finishing on the podium in his 100th race at the German Grand Prix, he decided to go ahead and do it.
"Today was (my) 100th race, I got a podium, summer vacation is about to start, and I was thinking to myself, 'just in case I don't win this year, I'm going to do a shoey and make my fellow Australians happy,'" Ricciardo said.
Following a podium performance at the 2016 German Grand Prix, Ricciardo executed a shoey at the Belgian Grand Prix. He also did one at the 2016 Malaysian Grand Prix, which he shared with Max Verstappen, Nico Rosberg, and Christian Horner, Red Bull Team Principal.
Daniel Ricciardo has made it almost a given that he will perform a shoey anytime he finishes on the podium. He did them again in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix alongside Canadian racing driver Lance Stroll, and at the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Italy, where he and Lewis Hamilton drank champagne from both of Ricciardo's shoes.
Daniel Ricciardo, teammate Lando Norris, and McLaren CEO Zak Brown all performed a shoey on the podium following a McLaren 1-2 finish at the 2021 Italian Grand Prix.
Riccardo has also managed to persuade other high-profile celebrities to drink from a shoe, including Gerard Butler and Patrick Stewart, who also drank Red Bull from a shoe.
Shoey in MMA and other sports
The shoey has also gained popularity outside of Formula One.
As mentioned above, following his first non-endurance event victory in 2015, David Reynolds, the Supercars racing driver, sipped champagne from his shoe on the podium. Australian MotoGP rider Jack Miller also drank champagne from his boot right after his initial victory, and Valentino Rossi, another MotoGP legend, did a shoey at the San Marino race in 2016, becoming the first non-Australian to do it.
During the 2016 NRL season, the shoey got even more popular, especially among Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks fans, who would regularly do it at games. Several players from the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks performed shoeys after the team won the 2016 Premiership.
In the UFC world, Australian MMA fighter Tai Tuivasa is known for doing shoeys immediately after his victories. First comes the knockout - then the celebration, and Tuivasa actually loves it. He is more than happy to give the fans what they want and end a good fight with his signature win celebration.
“It’s the fastest way for me to start getting drunk,” says Tuivasa, who shared that, as we now know, the move is far more common back in Australia. “We love to party and we love to have fun, and a shoey definitely gets people excited”, adding “After local shows, I could drink as soon as I got out of the cage. That’s not the case in the UFC, and that’s why I started doing the shoey in the cage.”
To shoey or not?
In 2016, a group of Australians known as the "Budgie Nine" were arrested in Malaysia after openly stripping and drinking beer from their shoes, almost causing an international crisis.
During a 2019 gig in Sydney, the Grammy award winning Kacey Musgraves heard "shoey" chants, to which she explicitly answered she had no intention of drinking out of anyone’s shoe. She did however, hold out a glass slipper she had brought with her to Melbourne the next day, downing a shoeful of tequila to the delight of the crowd.
While some Australians are delighted to see a diverse range of celebrities adopt, or at least tolerate, the shoey tradition, others are concerned that the worst aspects of the country's good-natured rowdiness — known as larrikinism in Australia — and binge-drinking culture are being unflatteringly thrust into the global spotlight.
One thing “Shoey” has in common for different countries: people celebrate victories at major events or a party among overjoyed and active companies! From Europe to Australia, the shoey tradition is actually sweeping the globe.
Like it or not, this activity is gradually gaining traction, and young people are recognized for their curious and adventurous investigations that want to have as much fun as possible. Nowadays, it's typical to see people at festivals drinking out of their shoes in a fit of joy-seeking delirium and enjoying every moment for as long as they can!
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