Benjamin Velani / Sun Staff Writer

November 14, 2019

How Do Cornellians Drink? Fishbowls and Changing Bar Culture

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From Marg Mondays to Fishbowls on Wednesdays, there seems to be a drink for every night of the week. That being said, bar culture has transformed into blackout culture among Cornellians, with pregaming becoming more and more popular while the idea of meeting up for a beer or two being considered taboo or just plain boring. Most “going out” consists of jumping around like a bunch of wasted high schoolers to Big Booty remixes you hardly know the lyrics to instead of actual music. I’m not trying to relive prom every weekend, thank you very much. Like our obsession of competing about “Who has the most unhealthy sleep schedule?”, drinking has turned into a “Who got the most fucked up?” competition. This mentality has become so entrenched in drinking culture at Cornell that many people refuse to go out because they have to work tomorrow, or need to get up at a reasonable hour, implying they will get too drunk to be able to do either the next day.

This culture started, I presume, with the widespread use of cell phones, allowing people to coordinate outings with ease. Where bars once served as a communal meeting spot on Friday and Saturday nights, my generation can now make plans as the night unfolds. While this has safety benefits, like keeping tabs on a friend who has had a few too many drinks, it also overwhelms people with a multitude of social choices. This, I believe, reinforces one’s personal social hierarchies and reduces their amicability. Instead of being content with the people around them, Cornellians today hop on their phones every five seconds to see what ‘better’ opportunity awaits them with a different group of people. This creates tighter cliques, double standards and prejudices against perfectly friendly and interesting people. It also creates a great deal of stress on the chooser because even if they like both groups, they usually have to decide on one and craft some elaborate excuse for the other.

To get a more complete idea about drinking culture at Cornell, I sent out a Google Form to various groups in order to collect information about Wednesday night fishbowls at Level B. From this survey I received a sample of 77 students from various years. Unsurprisingly, 59.7% of respondents said they go out to Level B if they know their friends are there, for a prearranged meet-up, compared to 5.2% who say they go to see who’s there. This overwhelmingly supports my argument that phones have degraded bar culture as a meet-up place for Cornellians. This has seriously impacted Collegetown bars as they struggle to stay open with students being less and less willing to buy drinks out, and instead of chug their handle of cheap vodka at home beforehand. In fact, 63.6% of respondents reported they will usually spend $18 or less at Level B in one night. That’s enough for one fishbowl or a few drinks at most, although I presume that most of those responses entailed spending nothing. Because students aren’t spending at bars like they used to or staying nearly as long, many bars around Ithaca have been closing since 2012, including Pixel Lounge and Royal Palm Tavern. Even more tragically, Royal Palm Tavern had been a staple of Ithaca for 71 years before having to close.

Daniel Ra / Sun Staff Photographer

Daniel Ra / Sun Staff Photographer

Daniel Ra / Sun Staff Photographer

In regards to how much bang you get for your buck, fishbowl recipes usually consists of around 16 shots mixed with enough sugary and colorful soda, simple syrup and/or juice to mask the taste. That is a lot of liquor for $18. So, you’d share it right? The polls say otherwise, as 32% of respondents say they will tank those 16 shots themselves or with one other compatriot. 53.3% said they would more reasonably share it with three to four others, still putting you at roughly five to four shots each. However, that’s still at least four or five drinks on top of whatever they had during the pregame and enough sugar for a wicked hangover the next morning.

Pregaming has by far become one of the most popular ways to get drunk among my peers, with 59.8% of respondents confirming they pregame more often than not, if not always Level B. This further goes to show that bars are just one stop along the way of a long night of excessive drinking.

Pregaming conduces many terrible habits besides just helping to put bars out of business. For one, it helps solidify clique culture by preceding every outing with a private little party of worthwhile individuals. These events take precedent over going out and meeting new people, allowing you to socialize with a broader range of Cornellians that you maybe wouldn’t get to interact with normally. This is an amazing opportunity to meet many of the countries brightest minds — folks who walk beside you, unannounced, just waiting to be met.

Many would probably argue that pregames are a great way to get to know people more intimately, and while I’d agree with that, I would also argue that the people you are pregaming with you already know very well. Besides, the fact that you need to move out of a bar setting to intimately interact with others also shows a shift in how our generation thinks of the bar scene. Instead of a place where you can have a few drinks and actually talk, it has become an obnoxiously loud pitstop where only the most drunk can fully express to everyone else there just how good they’re feeling tonight.

I know I probably come across as a senile old man, but I implore you to help change the toxic drinking culture that currently plagues our generation!