On Wednesdays We Get Drunk: An Ardent Defense of Bar Night
Unless you're out of touch with UChicago or otherwise live under a rock, you've no doubt seen that recent Maroon article. You know, that one. The one that bashes Bar Night for not being "intellectual" enough for UChicago, while overall just presenting as a self-congratulatory and elitist rant rife with pompous language and not-so-thinly veiled racism. I'm not here to tear the article apart — there's been plenty of that on Facebook — but I am going to take the time to defend Bar Night in all of its sticky, drunken glory.
Last night, out of pure spite, I went to Bar Night for the first time in literally years. I'll concede that I didn't really have a ton of fun: my friend Kardelen and I stuck around for about 45 minutes before we went home to make mac 'n cheese. But I digress. The reason I didn't have fun isn't because Bar Night sucks, it's because I was a jaded fourth year surrounded by happy and fun-loving first years. Hell, when I was a first year I lived for Bar Night. I was there almost every week because it was great. And what I saw last night was exactly the same great time as first year me saw consistently every week. It was the ultimate realisation of "it's not you, it's me."
Bar Night Before and After: first year Emilia enjoying a Dat Donut (left), vs. fourth year Emilia captured in a candid (right). Strangely enough I'm wearing the same coat in both.
Bar Night, after all, is just a frat party. But on a deeper level it's more than that. It's a UChicago tradition. A small weekly commitment to creating fun where fun goes to die. And sure we don't sit around sipping fine wine and discussing Plato, but if you go there you'll know there's no shortage of people drunkenly debating the Republic or the allegory of the cave like the socially awkward nerds we all are.
But that's not even the point. Why is there this insistence that we need to be intellectual all the time? Are we as a collective so insecure about our own intelligence that we need to take the time to critique others for not liking the same things we do? I want to say of course not, but it happens time and time again, especially here at UChicago. And for what? I wish I could say I don’t know, but I’ve acted this way myself. Most of the time I did it was because I was lonely and full of self loathing. I wanted people to agree with me and tell me how smart I was. I can’t speak for the author of the article, but I was so desperate for some unknown entity’s approval that I was willing to shame others for something as trivial as their taste in music or fashion sense. It’s not our insecurities that are toxic, but the way we are convinced we should deal with them.
So what can we do? In all honesty, not much. What’s important is that we love ourselves for who we are. Who cares if you love Weezy, Yeezy, Beethoven, Bach, or even One Direction? Whether Socrates is your favorite philosopher or whether you thought his works are dry and boring? What you like doesn’t determine your worth as an intellectual or even as a person. Going to frat parties doesn't determine that either.
So, let's return to Bar Night. It is an iconic and fundamental part of UChicago culture. (The question of Greek life as a whole at UChicago is far more nuanced, and honestly I don't think it's relevant to discuss it here.) By all means, you don't have to like it — even I came to the conclusion that I don't enjoy it as much as I used to — but you must admit that it's an important part of many of our college experience. That can't be ignored. To brush it aside in an act of self-promotion of arbitrary value is just wrong.
I only have one more point to make, and it's at the expense of me being a hypocrite. To the OP of the Maroon article: Gasolina is an absolute banger and you are wrong. I hope you know that they played it twice while I was there last night, and it was amazing.
Feature image via.