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Dewey Beach: Grownups Gone Wild
Comments () | Published August 1, 2008
Dewey may be tamer than it once was, but it’s still a giant frat party in comparison with quiet Bethany and kid-friendly Rehoboth. Photograph by Lauren Sloat

You could bury a keg in the sand, light a bonfire, and do pretty much whatever you wanted. There were people sleeping on the beach or running naked up and down Route 1.

The town was incorporated in 1981 and banned drinking on the beach five years later, making its lovely stretch of sand almost an afterthought to some. One seven-year Dewey veteran says he hasn’t made it to the beach in three years.

Families with toddlers and teens are interspersed with the singles on the beach. The town is trying to market itself as a family destination, with free movies and a weekly bonfire.

But the families mostly disappear on weekend nights, when Dewey belongs to the singles. The town may be tamer than it once was, but it’s still one giant frat party in comparison with quiet Bethany to the south and kid-friendly Rehoboth to the north. The drinking has just moved into the bars.

“The vibe here is out of control,” says a 24-year-old bouncer at the Lighthouse, a large waterfront bar. “Every night is a different story.”

His favorite stories star “cougars,” or women who prey on younger men. “They like dirty talk and want to go home with us,” he says. “Here, women over 30 can let go of their inhibitions and have a one-night stand.”

There’s no word for the male equivalent of the cougars, but they prowl Dewey bars, too. “Do I want to have sex with 20-year-olds?” ponders one 48-year-old man from Fairfax. “Yeah, but not every weekend.”

Another Lighthouse bouncer, 23 years old, saw a record-fast pickup earlier this summer. “A girl walked up to a guy and said, ‘I want to make out.’ And they walk out holding hands,” he says. “Later, I caught them on the back stairway . . . doing it.”

“Hi, ladies. Hey, I said hello. The least you can do is come over here and say hello.”

Easy E is attempting to lure women in bikinis to his beach towel and from there back to the house. He and Art carry cameras carefully wrapped in plastic bags to protect them from the sand. If they don’t capture a conquest in photos, it’s almost as if it didn’t happen.

So far there hasn’t been much to document. The boys have positioned themselves near a group of women in town for a bachelorette party.

The women who share their house are there, too. Hookups between members of the house are frowned upon because they create “drama,” which at Dewey is to be avoided at all costs. One house has a rule: No making out with housemates until August 1. After that—so close to the end of the summer—intra-house hooking up is okay.

At one group house, each person puts up $1,250 to cover rent for the summer—plus a refrigerator full of cheap beer for endless games of beer pong. Photograph by Jennifer Molay

Of course, rules are meant to be broken. Last night, two of Easy E’s housemates ended up together. But it’s an option of last resort.

For now, Easy E is focused on the bachelorette and her friends, even after he realizes most of them are married.

Art turns to Easy E: “Hey, remember that weekend when you hooked up with two bachelorettes and that one married lady?”

Easy E beckons to the bride-to-be. “You’re gonna cheat on your fiancé this weekend, sweetheart,” he says. But she giggles and walks away.

One of Easy E’s housemates, a 34-year-old from Wilmington, is dating a girl he met Memorial Day weekend. He tries to save money by meeting up with his girlfriend late in the evening, after she’s been drinking for a while. Let some other dude pay for her alcohol.

Drinks aren’t cheap. Dewey’s signature cocktail, the Orange Crush, tastes like a Creamsicle and costs $6. The Lighthouse sells so many that it goes through 100 cases of oranges in a weekend.

“I try to limit myself to $300 every weekend,” the housemate says. “But I end up blowing $500.”

Tired of striking out, Easy E opts for a new strategy: “I say we get up, find a new place, and pretend we’ve just arrived at the beach. And this time, no rings!”

At the Rusty Rudder that night, the cover band Burnt Sienna is rocking.

Lead singer Jeff Ebbert, a.k.a. Jefe—pronounced Hefé—jumps around the stage in designer jeans and a T-shirt. Tall and lean with buzzed hair, he’s the favorite of the women who pack the floor in front of the stage.

The police enforce noise limits at Dewey bars, but the music—covers of everything from the Jackson 5 to Kanye West—blares so loudly that you can’t stand anywhere near the speakers. In the crowd, a couple of fortysomethings make out like teenagers.

Burnt Sienna does gigs in Arlington, too. Many of the same people show up there, Jefe says, but they get wilder in Dewey. This is the band’s favorite place to play; nowhere does it get better rock-star treatment.

Each of the five band members makes between $50,000 and $100,000 a year plus perks from their adoring fans. At Jefe’s invitation, “Bachelorette Amanda” and her party climb onstage. Several start grinding with band members, rubbing up against them. One sits on the drummer’s lap, facing him, and bounces up and down.

“My drummer is getting the best lap dance of his life!” Jefe yells to the crowd.

Jefe, who’s been in the band 11 years, says it’s important to keep the women happy. Where girls go, guys follow. He’s in his thirties and is married to a nurse, but he doesn’t wear his wedding band while performing.

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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 08/01/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles