Without Greek brothers and sisters to guide us, the class of 2016 is the first to navigate the treacherous seas of passes and lists alone. After a year of stumbling drunkenly around the Street, we feel that the classes of 2015, 2014, and 2013 (and maybe some pre-frosh out there) would appreciate and find humor in our (very biased) insight into the distinct cultures of infamous Princeton Eating Clubs.
In general, these anecdotes stereotype the worst and worst of the glorified frat houses that make up Prospect Street. Whether or not these opinions of the clubs reflect more on us or the clubs is up for debate. So go forth and argue. We’ll be watching your reactions as we revise our Writing Sem papers.
Despite having an incredibly elitist reputation, Ivy is actually one of the most consistently fun clubs on the street. Before I went to Ivy for the first time, I was skeptical. People had described it as a “fancy cocktail party,” which didn’t sound like much fun to me. I even have several friends who would make the conscious decision to get only mildly buzzed at a pregame if they are in possession of the coveted Ivy pass, so as not to incur the scorn of members. Or there are those who will base their decisions to go out solely on Ivy; Shit, I didn’t get myself an Ivy pass, they’ll contemplate on a late Thursday afternoon, Should I even go out at all? I have too much work I’m putting off just to get blackout drunk for T.I.! As someone who is definitely not fancy at heart, I was worried I would be sniffed out as an imposter at the door. But as soon as I got inside, I realized that the people who had told me about Ivy were simply being too “Ivy” about Ivy, or just too insecure to pass up an opportunity to social climb. They were so overly concerned about social status and how they were presenting themselves that they forgot to actually have a good time. Not to say that this is an atypical insecurity to have as a freshman, but it’s one that I tried to avoid. Ivy is basically an amalgam of all the best part’s of the other clubs: T.I.’s dance floor, Cottage’s beautiful people, and Terrace’s indoor smoking rooms (although this could just be me smoking inside and thinking it’s okay when it’s not, but YOLO). You can easily float between these different atmospheres, varying the scenes of any given night. Note: You may think the bouncers will let you in if you have a pass, but you’ll never get past them without a pen.
An insightful young woman once told to me, “Every time I go to Cottage, I feel like I’m at a party I wasn’t invited to.” As someone who is neither a Southern Theta belle nor a lacrosse player, Cottage has always felt like the haven for kids who probably wished they weren’t too smart to go to UT or UVA. You have to get yourself on a list before it closes sharply at seven unless you’re a lax bro. For them, the list is always open. The few times I’ve gone to Cottage, I’ve slinked down to the basement, always somewhere between completely sober and slightly tipsy, to find cliques of the Cottage demographic huddled in small circles around the bar. Maybe my feelings of alienation from Cottage Club stem from my first party there, when I didn’t get the memo about the dress code. I arrived early (always a rookie mistake) dressed in a tribal print top, sequin skirt, and high-top sneakers, topped off with a high top bun. Everyone else was wearing some variation of J. Crew and cowboy boots, and they looked at me like I had just murdered a puppy right in front of them.
Yeah, so, I’ve never been to Tower, but if I’m ever in the mood for a good orgy with members of the Triangle Club, I know where I’m going.
There comes a certain time of the night, usually around 2 A.M., when all parties inevitably start to lose their appeal. As you begin to sober up you start noticing things: your shoes are sticky with beer, the dark room in which you danced the night away is pretty grimy, and the boy you were dancing with is even grimier. This is when most people head home, but not me. I have a nasty habit of refusing to let a night end. This is where Terrace comes into play. I go to Terrace when I’m still stubbornly trying to salvage a night that is declining quickly. This means that my nights at Terrace are strange, to say the least, but every once in awhile, you really can redeem a lackluster night by dancing to ABBA in the tiny basement taproom of Terrace. I mean, you really can’t beat a club that consistently invites rappers to perform on slow nights and allows you—even encourages you—to smoke inside.
I thought I left all the jock-worshipping, football-obsessed bullshit behind when I graduated high school, but when I went to Cannon for the first time, it was like 10th grade all over again. I stepped into the humid, sweaty basement, and was overcome with déjà vu of my high school years: sloppy grinding, public makeouts, and football boys that resemble overgrown babies trying to grope me. As a British guy scoffed at the beginning of the year, “Cannon reminds me of parties 14 year-olds in England haven’t gotten out of their systems yet.” Trending girls’ attire include tank tops and Soffe shorts. Trending dance moves include dry humping and wall grinding. Every night is Throwback Thursday when you’re at Cannon.
T.I. occupies a special place in my heart. It is my hometown, my comfort food, and my oldest friend. I’ve met some of my best friends at T.I., which is really a feat in such a dark and boozy basement. I’m usually at the peak of my inebriation as I hurtle through T.I.’s door and down the basement stairs. I jump and shimmy and wiggle and shake on the dance floor until my beer goggles begin to un-fog. Then, at the stroke of 1:45 AM, a funny thing happens: that magical place that we once knew as the T.I. basement turns into a full-blown brothel. If you are not currently attached to an acquaintance’s lips and you don’t want to be, you’d better high-tail out of there before a drunk frat boy begins to paw your face and ass. I usually end up on the side porch smoking cigarettes with a bouncer named Divine who sometimes lets me have a puff of his cigar and calls me “baby girl.” Incidentally, I think the kindest and most loyal friends I have made this year work the doors at T.I. (Shout out to my main man, Domingo!) Thank you, T.I., for always giving me a place to go on the Street, especially on those nights when I haven’t been proactive enough to seek out passes 24 hours in advance.
I associate Cloister with the infectious and delusional excitement of Frosh Week, when everyone I met was my NEW BEST FRIEND OMG I LOVE YOU CAN WE ACTUALLY HANG OUT WHEN WE’RE SOBER I’M BEING SERIOUS OK I LOVE YOU OMG. But every time I’ve gone there since Frosh Week ended, I have found that Cloister is just a way more crowded version of Cottage. With its high percentage of swimmers and rowers, it can feel very insular. However, if you happen to be a floater or boater, or if you go with a big group of people on a big night, Cloister is a great time.
In her recent lecture at Whig-Clio, Susan Patton said some pretty deranged things about loose women and sandwiches, but by far the most delusional piece of advice she gave the young women of Princeton seeking male life-partners was this: “Join Charter Club.” I went to Charter Friday one time, and it was stupid fun. However, I really don’t think I’ll be looking for my husband there (not that Charter guys aren’t great—I just don’t know enough about mechanical engineering to hold an intellectual conversation with one).
The richest club on campus—not surprising, considering the population of high GPA-ed Asians. Colonial may look like a home for the elite frat boys, but it only resembles the Omega Chi house from the TV show “Greek” on the outside. The closest any of us have come to stepping foot inside of Colonial was earlier this year, but, alas, it was not to be.
Cap & Gown
I’m fond of Cap because it is the one club that I have ever successfully snuck into, which, thinking back on it, was probably not as subtle as I believed at the time. I also went there on “stripper night,” but let’s face it: I don’t remember it. I can’t really tell you what it’s like to party at Cap. What I hear about Cap, though, is that it’s just full of nice, normal, down-to-earth people, so I’m sure I had a good time.
Quad is like that ballroom everyone rents out for Bar Mitzvahs and Sweet Sixteens. Quad has had a couple of good nights, but never when there were actual Quad members in attendance, which might also explain why it keeps getting damaged. Also, for some inexplicable reason, Quad always hosts the main act at Lawnparties. This inevitably causes some confusion when hundreds of day-drunk preppies try to remember where the fuck Quad is.