Sometime last semester, a friend of a friend dropped by my room with a handle of Dubra and a stack of red Solo cups. She was followed by a suitemate of mine who brought a large bottle of orange juice, clearly a last minute Durfee’s purchase. We all poured a drink, sat back and watched an episode of “Black Mirror.” It was seven o’clock on a Friday night. When the episode was over, before we parted ways for the evening, I asked their plans for the night.
“Well, before we go out, we have that pre-game in Bingham,” my suitemate said.
“Oh, you’re right, but let’s stop by my place and pick up a few people. We have more alcohol there, too,” my friend of a friend said.
“So a pre-pre-game?”
“And this was just the pre-pre-pre-game,” I said, in awe at the sheer amount of liquor these two first years would drink.
I can only speak on behalf of first years, but I am sure the trend continues in some capacity. The pattern began in Camp Yale: naive, we clamored for alcohol, settled for Dubra and drank the punch at Zeta. Every night of Camp Yale was a fever dream and every student ran to the nearest fraternity with an open bar. Did students even dance at Camp Yale? Or did they just roam the backyard of Sig Nu asking strangers, “Do you wanna make out?” Camp Yale was a time when strangers said yes and stepped over the broken handle of vodka someone had carelessly dropped. Contacts were made and the nature of Yale’s biggest party season felt a lot like networking for a job in finance, except minorities and women were allowed in.
Camp Yale left, but the memories, emotional damage and behavioral patterns remain a part of the class of 2021. Still, students drink as if the next sip will run the tap dry, with haste and anxiety. Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights are structured as a series of different places to drink different booze with different people. Are we still networking? Have we not yet reached the final rung on our social climbing ladder?
In my experience, pre-games are the most lit part of the night. And how could they not be? Assuming it is hosted in your own suite or within your friend group, there are no rules. Want to drink straight Fireball through a straw? The doorman at LEO isn’t there to confiscate it. Want to dance on the table? You won’t be recorded and put on strangers’ Snapchats. Want to listen to good music and dance with people whose company you genuinely enjoy? Certainly can’t get that from a night on High Street. To top it all off, whatever repercussions or problems you may face –– vomiting, ghosting or a dance induced concussion –– you are in a safe place.
But these pre-games are, as the name suggests, just precursors to a night. The “game,” however, refers to a large chunk of time spent in a foreign space. Students run to the dank basements of fraternities and to humid bars which they should not be granted access –– thanks, IDGod. The main event of the night is a spectacle, full of strangers, creeps and loud, uncontrollable music. Throbbing bodies wander the floor in search of someone to throb with, a hookup perhaps, anything they can share at WKND Brunch the next day. If the pre-game boozing was not sufficient, the keg beer and watered down vodka surely cannot fix the problem. With the drink line reaching around the entire Sig Ep party room, you’ll sober up before David Shimer ’18 can pour you a vodka Sprite.
I remember, earlier this semester, I decided to “go out” in the traditional Yale sense with a few of my friends who were keen to this social scene. I walked up to their suite at about 9 p.m., right after my nap, shower and simultaneous shit slash floss routine. I brought with me a glass bottle of Hubert’s Watermelon Lemonade and a pack of gum, the necessities for a successful night. They greeted me with a handle of rum (peculiar choice, I thought, but I wasn’t going to argue because I hadn’t been asked to Venmo them for it (yet)).
“Why do you have lemonade?” one friend asked.
“It’s his chaser,” the other friend answered for me, incorrectly.
“No, it is to mix, so I can pace myself,” I answered, correctly, to a group of aghast faces.
It was clear that we did not have time to make a mixed drink, that we had places to be and quickly.
I understand the appeal of party hopping, to an extent. It is nice to swallow from the spout of another’s handle, but at what cost? By roaming the campus all night, one would miss the real party: a wholesome environment of your friend’s common room couch, some tasty drinks and appropriately volumed music, a judgment free zone and some close friends. Making out with someone at this event makes for a much better story.
Dustin Dunaway | email@example.com