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Where's the Party?
Comments () | Published February 1, 2009
A college tradition: slamming 21 shots on your 21st birthday.

The girls won’t run into as many Howard students here at Jin as they would at Alero, another sleek U Street hangout, where they can walk in any night and count on finding people they know. “There’s nothing like going to a black school,” Tiffany says. “We all eat in the cafeteria and have small, intimate classes. We’re like a family.”

Alice, a friend of Tiffany’s, is sipping water instead of cocktails. She hasn’t been able to drink since she overindulged about a month ago. “I ordered a mango martini the other night—my favorite—but I had to send it back,” she says.

On the night she had too much, Alice was working as a promoter for a company that throws lesbian parties around the city. An ex-girlfriend helped her get the job. She had at least four shots at home, two Long Island iced teas at the party, and a Midori sour. “I was floored,” she says. “I don’t want to feel that way ever again.”

As bad as that was, Alice—who has dreadlocks and wears baggy jeans—says it wasn’t the most drunk she’s ever gotten. One time during junior year, she stuck a straw into a pitcher of margaritas and drank the entire thing in two minutes.

Like Tiffany, Alice has an entrepreneurial streak. She’s launching a clothing line and helps organize conferences for Howard. The girls say their ambition is common among Howard students. Says Alice: “We’re kids who lived in the ’hood but are smart.”

Who says college kids don’t have any responsibilities? Photograph of rules by Lauren Sloat

“Totally, 100 Percent Anonymous”

“Do you guys want to play Edward 40 Hands?”

Kyle, a 20-year-old sophomore at George Washington University, and his friend Anna pause in the dorm hallway to consider the offer. The drinking game—inspired by the movie Edward Scissorhands—involves duct-taping 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor to your hands and not removing them until they’re empty.

Kyle and Anna decide to pass; they’re eager to get to tonight’s frat party, and Kyle has some Jack Daniel’s in his room. They can hit that before they go.

Kyle cracks the door to his room and yells, “Hello!” He’s caught his roommate and his roommate’s girlfriend in the act three times already this year. Last time, he walked all the way across the room before he noticed what they were doing. His roommate didn’t seem to mind, but his girlfriend was embarrassed.

GW is known for its nice dorms, and Kyle’s is no exception. His room is laid out like a studio apartment, with its own kitchen and bathroom, a sitting room with a flat-screen TV, and two beds along the back wall.

Before leaving for the party, Kyle and Anna stop across the hall to see if Kyle’s neighbors want to come. The boys are about to smoke pot, and they offer some to Kyle and Anna, who decline.

The fraternity Kyle belongs to hosts parties pretty much every Friday. Getting into the frat house is easy for girls and frat brothers; guys who aren’t members are allowed only in the basement and backyard and have to pay $5. The house has two tables for beer pong—a drinking game that involves throwing Ping-Pong balls into cups of beer—and there’s a sign-up sheet where two-person teams can register for tonight’s tournament. There are also kegs in the backyard and basement and a cooler filled with “jungle juice”—a mixture of vodka, powdered juice, and Sprite that hides the taste of alcohol.

“We’re doing it a step up tonight—Bud Light!” Kyle says, handing Anna a beer. He makes the rounds at the party, saying hello to guests and addressing talking points, which run the gamut from his latest hookup (it was in the shower) to his faith (he’s an evangelical Christian). Then he heads down to the dance floor in the basement.

The party starts out low-key, but the beer-pong tournament gets rowdy and the dance floor gets crowded. Kyle manages to meet a girl and make out with her for about ten minutes. By 2:30, when he emerges from the basement drenched in sweat, everyone’s taking drunk pictures so they can relive the night on Facebook tomorrow.

Most students know they have to be careful about what goes on Facebook; some make a policy of putting down their drinks for pictures. But the site lets them take their names off photos they don’t want parents or employers to see, and it gives them some control over who can access their pictures.

Kids worry more about a new Web site called Juicy Campus. It has pages for schools across the country where students can post gossip. “C’mon. Give us the juice,” it says. “Posts are totally, 100% anonymous.” Topics are often things like who the biggest slut on campus is or which guys are secretly gay. Or they’ll target one person, using first and last names and asking others to weigh in.

On the GW page, someone wrote that a certain guy “is a loser. He hit on his straight friend. Twice. What a FAGGOT.” On the Georgetown page, one girl is labeled “the dirtiest slut around.” Someone else wrote about her: “definitely a huge whore. probably has STD’s, so stay away!”

Some student governments are considering blocking Juicy Campus, and students have started flooding the site with poems, off-topic questions, and messages about how Juicy Campus is cruel.

With the party winding down, Kyle and Anna decide to head back to the dorms. The hard-core drinkers are still at it, trying to finish off the beer by doing keg stands. Their friends hold their legs as they balance in a handstand on top of the keg, drinking beer upside down for as long as they can.

The game flip cup is a race: Each player on a team has to chug a beer and then flip the empty cup so it lands upside down.

Fake IDs and Drinking Games

In Georgetown, 20-year-old Laura is worried. The junior from Miami normally has no trouble getting into bars with her fake ID. But at the sports bar on M Street where she’s supposed to meet friends, it doesn’t look good. A bouncer and the bar manager are checking IDs, and a police officer is standing off to the side.

Laura asks an over-21 friend to go ahead of her. Also in line is a guy with tombs stamped on his forehead, a sign that today is his 21st birthday. When Georgetown University students turn 21, they go to the Tombs—a campus bar that’s strict about underage drinking—get stamped, and drink 21 shots.

“When my friend turned 21,” Laura says, “he had 18 shots and made his way around the bar, threw up on the back door, and then stumbled home without his shirt on. That’s the tradition.”

Laura’s fake ID says she’s from another country. “It’s my face but a different last name,” she says. “It has worked almost everywhere.” She got it in Miami through a friend.

For students without good IDs, campus parties are the best bet. It’s usually easy to buy alcohol at a certain liquor store. Says Laura: “You could walk in with a piece of cardboard that says ‘I am 21 years old,’ and they will give you alcohol.”

At parties, kegs rule. “This is a huge flip-cup and beer-pong school,” Laura says, referring to drinking games that involve plastic cups and lots of beer. The “girl goyle” is also popular. It’s a variation on a keg stand in which a girl plants her feet on top of the keg, squats down, and puts the tap in her mouth.

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Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 02/01/2009 RSS | Print | Permalink | Comments () | Washingtonian.com Articles