Where do students go after hours?
April 12, 2018
Work Hard, Party Harder
There was a brief pause from the trap music as the soft “Here Comes the Bride” began playing in the grimy, overheated fraternity chapter house. The elevated surfaces—handmade wooden stands about two feet off the ground— were draped in white tablecloth and placed in front of the makeshift altar. Alongside the aisle were mismatched chairs for the enthusiastic audience. It was the night of my wedding.
A “wedding” mixer is one of the wilder themes the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic community have come up with. Others include jersey shore, vine (RIP), pajamas, bar mitzvahs, paint parties, etc. As Michigan students, the nights are often long, but the ideas are endless. Many of my memories have their roots in fraternity basements and satellite houses. Although the IFC shutdown provided the needed opportunity for the Greek Life community to reflect on their actions, I would be lying if I denied that I shed a single tear when the news broke. The floors are sticky. The walls are wet with condensation. My
shoes are trashed. There’s a mix of unidentified liquids all over me and my cheap yet tastefully stylish clothes. But still, these houses have become my happy places. They’re where I’ve met my best friends and had some of the most fun in college so far. There’s really no other time in our lives except for these four years that it’s acceptable to find these frat houses appealing. When the Franzia boxes begin to run dry however, campus provides us with a multitude of possibilities.
Depending on the vibes you’re looking for, Ann Arbor has a variety of bars that cater to your mood. Cantina or Study Hall Lounge post 11:30 pm provide a poppin’ DJ and a dance floor and really, what more could you need? The Brown Jug Restaurant is the place to be for a chill night and cheap drinks. Some other classics include Rick’s, Charley’s, Skeeps, etc. Those who enjoy the bar scene tend to have a specific place they call home between the hours of 10pm to 2am. Finding this place takes patience, an open mind and a willingness to obliterate your bank account.
If you’re in the mood to slum it, hit up a house party. Maybe it’s a rowing party, club lax or a non-affiliated random’s house. In my experience, I’d advise you to pregame hard and expect shoulder-to-shoulder standing room only. Once, I arrived at an unidentified house and found myself among the single digits of females, vastly outnumbered by males I’d never met before. Another time, I ended up at a rowing party and reached my peak as I crowd surfed to “Mr. Brightside” by the Killers. House parties can really be a hit or miss, but college is all about new experiences and putting yourself out there. Always remember that if it’s a horrible party, it’ll will be a great story the next day. There is no night that can’t be salvaged.
No matter where you spend it, the night ought to end at the Panchero’s Mexican Grill. What started as a late-night craving for quesadillas has turned into a movement, and a personal necessity. It’s an absolute fact that quesadillas start tasting better as the night goes on and the morning grows closer. There could be $5.05 in my bank account and I would still spend $5.04 on my quesadilla. Know your priorities. Pizza House, home of the notorious feta bread, and Jimmy Johns are also highly popular drunk food hotspots. No matter where you end the night, end it with some form of greasy food in your hand.
The University of Michigan is known to breed intense work ethics and passionate students. But our dedication to the maize and blue goes beyond the classroom. We bring this same spirit to the frats, bars and anywhere else that provides good vibes and even better music. I’ve shared more clothes, caked my shoes with more dirt, and used more Tide stain sticks than I thought was humanly possible this year. Making questionable decisions and staying out past what my parents consider a reasonable hour are values I hope to carry with me for a long time, but just in case this becomes socially unacceptable, I’m making the most of time now.
Why do I spend my weekends, and admittedly some of my weekdays, this way? Well, to be honest I live for a solid work hard, play hard vibe. I love to work hard but I also might still be a six year-old at heart. Stress relief is a necessity in college, and for me, there’s better way to do it than by living out the stories I’m going to tell for the rest of my life.
Track and Field’s Cult Competition: The Beer Mile
The author is a collegiate track athlete with a 6:12 beer mile.
As with most track and field runners, pre-race anxiety hits me hardest at the starting line. However, the starting line I stood on that summer night was far different than any other race I had ever run. Sure, some things remained the same: a large enthusiastic crowd, worthy competitors and the objective to cross the line first. But everything else about the race was foreign. Instead of a track, we were racing around a dimly lit, quarter-mile block of our Midwestern city. When the race began, nobody bolted out on the road. Instead, everyone was busy chugging their first beer. After that first beer was finished, I threw the can and sprinted off, hunting for a victory in track’s most unorthodox event, the beer mile.
First, a brief history of this magical event. A group of Canadian collegiate milers devised the idea of combining their two loves, running and beer, in a contest. In 1989 at a small Canadian high school, a cult phenomenon was born. The objective was simple; drink a beer then run a lap around a standard track (a quarter mile), then repeat this action three more times so that by the time you cross the finish line you’ll have run a full mile and drank four beers. The only rule: if you puke you need to run an extra lap. In the past decade, the beer mile has become a larger part of track and field, with Olympic runners attempting the challenge along with the establishment of an official world championship. What started as a grassroots movement by some drunken college kids has progressed to a worldwide sporting event. While Olympians and professional runners now command the main attention of modern beer miles, the sport is still alive filling Friday and Saturday nights among hobby joggers, collegiate athletes, and ambitious non-runners all across the globe.
In the summer of 2017, some friends and I decided to put together a beer mile one night with the wager of bragging rights, a few extra beers and eternal glory on the line. Initially, the field was only supposed to be about 8 of us, but word spread among our extended friends on campus about the challenge, resulting in 30 men and women entered with plenty more spectating. Whether watching or running, all who were there were excited to be spending their night on the track. As the sun began to set, we organized an “Amateur” and “Championship” section of each race. After the amateurs finished, I stepped on the line with 12 other men to see who was the (local) king of the beer mile.
As the gun went off, I immediately started chugging my beer, fighting the urge to stop and vomit after every chug. Three athletes finished the first beer before me, but I was in hot pursuit, my stomach churning as I switched from chugging to sprinting in a matter of seconds. Once a lap is complete, there is no time to catch your breath because there’s more beer to drink. I finished the lap after overtaking one athlete and began chugging, trying to establish a steady drinking pace after that lung-burning sprint. After another, stomach-upsetting beer I took off in second place, chasing the leader around the neighborhood racecourse. We pulled up to the fourth and final beer dead even as the crowd roared louder. I noticed the other athlete began to tire, and had trouble drinking the beer, but I could not let up. I methodically sipped away at the last beer and began to anticipate the final sprint. Finishing my last gulp, I spiked the can with authority and began my final lap around the course. My lungs were burning, my legs were filling with lactic acid, and I wanted to puke out all of those cheap beers that I shoved down my throat. Despite this, I continued to persist, as the other competitors were not far behind. Finally, I crossed the line in first to the roar of the crowd, which only intensified as my finishing time was announced as the local running club’s record. As I euphorically pumped my fist in the air, my elation came to a screeching halt as I held back vomit, but I was a champion nonetheless.
The beer mile is a unique event that brings people out of the bars and study rooms and onto the track. Neither the fastest runners nor the fastest drinkers win the race, but it’s usually the ones who push themselves the hardest in both aspects. There are no Olympic medals, endorsements, or fame at stake, only the chance to fight for glory and potentially puke. What makes spending nights running beer miles special is if you can run that mile and pound those beers, you are a champion to everyone who has run before you.
A More Dynamic Nightlife
Marisa Apple is a junior at the University of Michigan studying Communications. She loves exploring Ann Arbor and being involved around campus through her positions with the Center for Campus Involvement, the Michigan Association of Communication Studies, and the Michigan Fashion Media Summit.
I think that going out and being social is one of the most important parts of college. I’ll be the first to admit that I go out. All the time. However, for me, that doesn’t necessarily mean going out to a bar.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the typical college party experience as much as the next girl, but often, this experience is the dominating focus of many social lives here on campus. As we focus more and more on this same experience every weekend, we forget about the other opportunities that the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor have to offer.
As young adults living in Ann Arbor, we have so many creative and fun opportunities within walking distance. There are jazz clubs, fun restaurants on Main Street, music and art festivals, and so many other exciting things to do around the downtown/Main Street area. Some of my favorite “going out” experiences have been attending the Fool Moon parade downtown, painting canvases at Paint and Pour, laughing at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, and seeing fun films at the Michigan Theater such as the Rocky Horror Picture Show. These are all experiences that students don’t often think to look for, but can be some of the more memorable opportunities around our town.
As a student at the University of Michigan, we are provided with so many nightlife opportunities through the University itself. Dance performances, SMTD musicals, improv shows by the U of M comedy clubs, and countless other opportunities are all created by U of M students, for U of M students. Events such as these are great ways to get to know our campus better and see all of the remarkable and passionate accomplishments being demonstrated by our peers.
The office through the University that works tirelessly to promote a fun and inclusive nightlife environment for students is the Center for Campus Involvement. . I have worked at CCI for 2 years and am lucky to have been able to see the influential ways that CCI can create meaningful and memorable experiences for students during their time at Michigan. Largely all of the events at CCI are free and can often be fun alternatives to a night of going out.
The recurring event that our office is most well known for are our Umix events. These free events takes place at the Michigan Union from 10pm-2am, approximately twice a month on Fridays. We offer an abundance of activities for students to partake in as well as a free midnight buffet. For example, just last month, CCI hosted a Harry Potter Umix, where there were make-your-own wands, escape rooms throughout the Union, Harry Potter trivia, a movie screening, and more. On the weekends that Umix events do not occur, there is a Friday Flicks event as an alternative. These events start at 9pm and provide a free screening (and free popcorn!) of a newly released movie that you otherwise would have to pay for in the theaters. Both Friday Flicks and Umixes are great alternatives to the bar scene if you are looking for a more relaxed environment and are not looking to spend any money.
I do not argue that the standard “going out” experience should be forgotten. I would definitely be hypocritical if I didn’t add that I often do follow this typical schedule. However, when you start to do the same thing every night, it can become mundane. We are so lucky to go to a University and live in a town where there are such a variety of nightlife opportunities. Even if you just stop by a Umix on your way to Skeeps, or attend the first half of a dance group performance on your way to Charley’s, I guarantee that this diverse nightlife experience will create more memorable experiences to reflect on after graduation.
We have so little time to be students here at Michigan. Why waste that time at the same bar every weekend when there are so many places to explore? I encourage all those reading to get out of their routine and out of their comfort zone. I urge you all to discover, to enjoy, and to create memorable experiences. I advocate for a dynamic nightlife experience that can contribute to a more dynamic college experience as a whole.
A Night at the Movies
One of the best ways to spend a Friday night is at the Michigan Theater, seeing a movie that puts you out of your comfort zone. As an anthropology and ecology and evolutionary biology major, many of my weekends are spent studying the things that make this Earth concrete, universal. The first time I went to the Michigan theater was my freshman year; I went to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I had no idea what to expect and I can easily say it was one of the most unique experiences I have had during my time at school so far. When I walked in, I was totally shocked. I had been told to “dress up” by my friends, but they never said in what way. After some very brief research about the movie I decided to go with an all black outfit and black lipstick to be edgy. Little did I know what was in store.
As I entered the theater, I immediately witnessed some of the most risqué outfits I have ever seen. It seemed as if you couldn’t look in any direction without seeing a corset and fishnets. I had been to costume-encouraged movies before, but this was different. People weren’t just dressing like the characters; they were becoming the characters. I was no longer in Michigan. For anyone who has seen Rocky Horror, you know that it is not your average movie. The audience talks back and throws things, and if you’re lucky there will be a shadow cast. Needless to say, the rest of my night was full of surprises.
Yet that’s what I love about the Michigan theater - you don’t go there to see a movie, you go there for an experience. I especially love that they don’t do reserved seats. They kept their old timey classic movie theater vibe while remaining in the heart of modern Ann Arbor. I also went to the Michigan Theater to see The Shape of Water. While I was there, I felt completely immersed during a scene where the fish man is standing in the middle of an old movie theater, right below where the main character lives. Movies like this are especially great for this type of theater because you really feel transported into the time they take place. If you had told me I was in a 1960’s theater with a fish creature, I wouldn’t have questioned you, I genuinely felt as though I was in the movie.
As the Academics Chairwoman for my sorority, when people tell me they are having a hard time balancing time between academics and fun, I always suggest taking their Friday night to see a movie, and taking some time to study afterwards. Everyone usually has a great time because they don’t feel overwhelmed by their work and still feel like they got a chance to go out. We all know that many Michigan students live by a “work-hard, play-hard” mentality, and I commend people who are able to crank out all their work during the week, and then go hard on the weekends. However, the frat and bar scene don’t quite fit the unique Friday night experience I’m looking for. Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with going out and having a good time at a frat. But if you are looking for a really unique experience, you should try something new and I think one of the indie films at the Michigan theater is a great way to expand your horizons.
I honestly think a movie is the best option for a Friday night because it gives you so much time to do other things as well. You can go to an early showing and even still go out after. Or you can grab dinner before and catch a later showing. With the current renovations to the state theater having just finished, there’s double the movies available. We all know that Michigan assigns an obscene amount of homework for any and every class, thus the opportunity for a more unique Friday night is perfect for any Michigan student. You can go out and do something really fun and different, but also have time to come back to your house and study.