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Dewey Beach: Grownups Gone Wild
Comments () | Published August 1, 2008
“Bachelorette Amanda” and her friends are the weekend’s alpha bachelorette party. They danced with the band Mr. Greengenes in the afternoon and climbed onstage that night at the Rusty Rudder with Burnt Sienna. Photograph of bachelorette party by Jennifer Smoose

“I think if [girls] see a wedding ring without knowing us, they might think, ‘Oh, these guys are older—as soon as this is over, they’re hopping in a minivan, going home, and changing diapers.’ That’s not true. I’ll probably be playing beer pong at 5 in the morning.”

Girls frequently hit on the guys in the band. As lead singer, Jefe gets the worst of it. Most approaches are subtle—an invitation to a late-night party or a phone number on a piece of paper—but there’s a lot of groping, too. “I have a line,” Jefe says. “If somebody grabs my junk, they’re going to hear about it.”

Does he get sick of being in a cover band? No way. This is his dream job. But it won’t last forever.

“There’s gonna come a time when we’re too old to be playing the newest song on the radio to 21-year-old girls,” he says. When that time comes, he’ll focus on weddings and corporate events, which pay more. “I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon,” he says.

The crowd goes nuts at the start of a 2006 hit inspired by a Paris Hilton sex tape. “Hey! You’re a crazy bitch,” Jefe sings, “but you f--- so good I’m on top of it.” Everyone sings along.

Kristen Evick, a patrol officer with the Dewey Beach Police since April, is parked outside the Rusty Rudder, preparing for “bar rush” when the bars close at 1 am.

There’s some griping about what’s seen as increased police enforcement. “They’ve really clamped down on this place—it sucks,” complains a fiftysomething taxi driver who misses the days when Dewey was all about “sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll.”

But Evick and her colleagues—eight year-round officers plus dozens of student police as young as 18 brought in to help control the summer crowds—rarely intervene in the nightly parade of inebriation.

“See, she’s drunk.” Evick points to a woman stumbling as she tries to put on her shoes. “It’s absolutely hilarious.”

Another woman who’s clearly intoxicated runs up to the passenger window for help getting to the beach. She wants to cut through tall grass on the side of the road, but Evick explains she can’t go that way. Besides, the beach is closed at night.

The most common arrests in Dewey are for underage drinking and for urinating in public, Evick says. The police are also strict on open alcohol containers and drunken jaywalking across Route 1.

Dewey sometimes seems overrun with brides-to-be. Stories abound of women indulging in one last fling, but most just want to have fun. Photograph of rickshaws by Jennifer Molay

“For the most part, the people down here are decent,” Evick says. Treat them well and they’ll return the favor. The town council wants tourists to have a good time and come back, she adds.

“The police are told to enforce the law but do it with some common sense,” says Dewey commissioner Dale Cooke. “Don’t go crazy, and don’t let them go crazy.”

Those who say Dewey is rowdy now have no idea what it was like in the ’80s, says town manager Gordon Elliott. When he was a patrolman then, kids threw firecrackers at him from a roof. “They were rolling around the brim of the big Smokey Bear hat I used to wear,” he says.

“You’d be picking up people in the morning just laying in the street from where they were intoxicated,” he says. “That doesn’t happen much anymore.”

Noise regulations—the police have handheld noise meters so they can write tickets—make parties of more than 15 or 20 people virtually impossible, Elliott says. “It used to be 200 or 300 people staying in the yard of a house.”

At 1:15, Evick gets a call and speeds off. She arrives at a house where music is blasting. A guy living in the street got into a fight with three others. His face is bloody, and it looks like his nose is broken. When an ambulance arrives, he refuses to go to the hospital, seemingly too drunk to know how badly he’s hurt.

After much cajoling, Evick persuades him to get treatment, saying that if he doesn’t go, she’ll lock him up.

When others at the party move in to take pictures with the police car and the ambulance, one of the officers loses his patience: “Just go in the house before you go to jail.”

After the bars close, Easy E stops for late-night pizza and heads back to the house, a rough-around-the-edges four-bedroom with 12 beds and a beer-pong table. He still hasn’t figured out who tonight’s lucky lady will be, and the clock is ticking.

Earlier in the evening, his housemates were playing beer pong, a game involving a Ping-Pong ball and chugging, when a guest wandered onto an upstairs balcony.

“There’s a human body out here!” she yelled.

Lines form around 10 am at the Starboard for Suicide Sunday brunch with make-your-own Bloody Marys. Don’t have to work Monday? The Sunday party lasts all day. Photograph by Jennifer Smoose

A guy was lying passed out, his face pressed against the sliding glass door. No one recognized him. They eventually got him up and realized he was a friend of a friend.

Now a girl is passed out, mouth agape, on a couch beneath a bright lamp and in front of a speaker blasting music.

“Dooooowheeeeeee! Dooooowheeeeeee!” shouts Kate, a 25-year-old teacher from Arlington. Another housemate is pouring shots of Southern Comfort and lime, dancing around the living room as he hands them out. Others are trying to get another game of beer pong going.

By 10 the next morning, the gang is back at the Starboard, nursing hangovers with Eggs Delmarva and make-your-own Bloody Marys.

They laugh when women who look to be in their late fifties arrive in tight white T-shirts with sayings like crzy btch or gr8 fuk on the back. One, whose shirt says nauty bch chck, is wearing high heels but no pants.

Kristen has had more than enough Dewey for one weekend; she needs to get out of here before the Champagne starts flowing again. She leaves money for breakfast and heads off without saying goodbye.

The rest of the housemates rehash last night. Two friends brought girls home only to find they were lesbians. Others can’t remember parts of the night.

Easy E’s luck finally turned around when a leggy blonde wandered into the house around 2. They started making out on the kitchen counter and moved on from there. He’s got photos to prove it.

Have a Dewey experience you'd like to share? Or maybe you have something to say about this article? Send an e-mail to and your comment could appear in our next issue. 

This article appears in the August 2008 issue of Washingtonian. To see more articles in this issue, click here.


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