You thought it wasn’t possible. You thought it couldn’t be done. You thought the earth would stop rotating before a freshman boy became the most popular kid on campus—even if it was only for a week. And surely, even if on the off chance you did believe a freshman boy could take control over Princeton’s social scene, there’s no way you thought it would have involved Colonial.
But, as we have all recently learned, sometimes the impossible occurs. For those of you who were living deep down in C-Floor for the past month and haven’t heard of the Colonial “Champagne” party, let me quickly fill you in. So there’s this freshman—let’s just call him M for short—and he wanted to throw a little party. And by little, what I meant was that M wanted to rent out the Colonial Club the night of Saturday, November 17th to throw a shindig for a few hundred of his closest friends which apparently included roughly 150 Rutgers’ girls decked out in their finest lingerie. Rumor has it that every guest would receive a bottle of champagne on his or her arrival. Monogrammed condoms would be given out as parting gifts. Apparently some big-time DJ named 3LAU was going to drop sick nasty beats all night long. Basically, “Champagne” was supposed to be the best party you never attended. And you didn’t attend “Champagne” because it never happened. And it never happened because “Champagne” was canceled the night before. And I think the cancellation of “Champagne” was the best thing that could have happened to us all.
Take a moment, close your eyes and think back to every conversation you and your friends had in the week leading up to the bonfire and “Champagne.” If I’m being completely honest (which, I’ll admit I rarely ever am), no less than 75% of the conversations I had in the days leading up to November 17th somehow eventually led to a discussion of “Princeton’s largest and most exclusive party” (because apparently that statement is not in any way contradictory). Oh, you just got a C-minus on your mol bio exam? Don’t worry; you’ll completely forget about it when bottles of Cristal are being poured down your throat. Oh, you recently found out that your puppy has early onset doggy dementia? Sucks for Spot; but at least you can dance Saturday night away to the frenzied beats of 3LAU. Oh, Princeton beat both Harvard and Yale in the same football season for the first time since 2006 and we are holding an epic schoolwide bonfire to celebrate? That’s cool and all; but wait, like, did you hear the rumor about the Rutgers girls’ bus situation? Crazy, right!!?!?!
But whether or not you were invited, wanted to be invited, or would rather be buried alive than attend
“Champagne,” you and your friends were talking about it. Or, at the very least, people around you were talking about it at late meal and you couldn’t help but eavesdrop on their conversation. “Champagne” grabbed Princeton’s collective social attention better than anyone or anything I’ve ever seen in my entire 2-and-a-half semesters at this university. People talked about the party with the sort of fervor that I had previously only seen reserved for events like Christmas, 21st birthdays, and new episodes of Breaking Bad. Though emotions ran from genuine and unabashed excitement to complete and utter disgust, the entire campus was captivated by “Champagne.” And even those who were confused and appalled by the idea of a freshman spending thousands of dollars under the guise of “making friends” still kind of wanted to go. I’m not saying everyone was as batshit crazy about getting an invite to “Champagne” as, say, one particular junior sorority girl and two of her hottest friends, but people really did want to get on that list. In my opinion, there’s no shame in that.
Look, it’s not every day that someone throws a party that promises good alcohol, solid music, and people that are intriguing and unfamiliar. On top of that, the rumor mill started churning, fact began to blur with fiction, and the hype began to build on itself. From condoms, to buses, to lingerie, to Rutgers girls, to lists, to strippers, to 3LAU, in the week leading up to the party if someone had told me that Blue Ivy would be making her professional debut at “Champagne” with a guest appearance by Queen B herself I probably wouldn’t have questioned it. I also probably would have been doing my damned best to get on that list.
Sadly, Blue Ivy couldn’t wow the masses at “Champagne” because there was no party. The details about why “Champagne” was canceled are hazy—something involving SHARE, the administration, and the inevitable—and unimportant. I talked to Professor Sam Wang, number cruncher extraordinaire (take that Nate Silver!), and now I’m pretty sure that it was statistically impossible for “Champagne” to live up the general public’s expectations. That’s fine because, if you think about it, the idea of “Champagne” is all we ever really needed. With the party, M found a way to tap into exactly what Princeton students want: to hold fast to the days of yore while constantly innovating and changing the game. At once, “Champagne” satisfied our oldest, most antiquated Princetonian sensibilities (inviting eligible young bachelorettes from far-off places!), while adding a fresh twist on our sometimes-repetitive social scene (inviting eligible young bachelorettes from far-off places!). As an idea, “Champagne” truly would have been the perfect Princeton party.
But nothing is ever perfect, which is why “Champagne” was destined to fail. Still, what M accomplished was no small feat. With the catastrophe that was “Champagne,” M became a tragic hero—a sort of modern era Jay Gatz. Now that I think of it, F. Scott Fitzgerald would have had a frickin’ field day with the potential shitshow that was “Champagne” and the intrinsically flawed yet undeniably likeable character that M has become. In the fantasy world in which “Champagne” thrived, the most fantastical character of all was M himself. With just a swipe of his platinum card, he conjured the world in which Princeton’s social scene thrived for an entire week, which in turn made him an even bigger deal than the party itself. Who was this M? How was he funding “Champagne”? What was his inspiration? How could I get him to like me enough to put me on the list even though I have a penis? I’m not saying it took anything more than an unlimited pocketbook and a complete lack of self-awareness to achieve this social status, but it’s still impressive. Anyone who’s able to turn a complete bomb of a party into his own personal meme page deserves some credit.
“Champagne” at its best could only ever be a disappointment, because every night out at Princeton is kind of disappointing. I’d venture to guess that any night out anywhere can be disappointing. Because that’s how going out works—even if it looks perfect on paper it never works out that way for everyone. And you’ve got to admit, “Champagne” looked pretty damn good on paper. As much as we may have believed it at the time, M was never able to actually guarantee us a good time. Inevitably, someone would have left “Champagne” disappointed with what just occurred—that’s simply a fact of life. And that someone might have been you. But because the event never happened, that disappointment cannot exist. Instead of feeling sorry for ourselves, we are free to let our imaginations run wild when we pass Colonial on our way to “one of the top clubs on the street.” Every time you walk into Colonial, you are free to wonder where the DJ would have been set up instead of remembering how tiny and cramped the dance floor felt. Now instead of thinking, “Oh god, that’s where a wasted Rutgers girl puked all over my good Sperrys,” we are instead allowed to imagine a more pleasant scenario in which we might be going home with said Rutgers girl instead of McCoshing her. In the end, the only thing Colonial’s “Champagne” party gave Princeton was disappointment. But “Champagne” as an idea, though, that’s the gift that keeps on giving.