Partying in This Shitty Economy

The infamous picture from Animal House that made partying at college part of the curriculum.

The infamous pose from Animal House that made partying at college a demanding part of the curriculum. Photo credits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/n1ckr1vers/2608330704/

Three years ago, on a Wednesday night in Albany, NY, it was usual, and expected to see hundreds of college students waiting at the bus stop. Their destination-the downtown bars; their mission-to consume large amounts of alcohol, while still making it back to the dorms to get just enough sleep before class on Thursday. While the mission hasn’t changed, the destination has. The struggling economy has led already broke college students to change certain aspects of their lives.

“I only go out on weekends now,” says Stephanie Fox, SUNY Albany senior. She continues, “I remember freshman and sophomore years, we went out just about every Tuesday, and every Thursday through Saturday. We just can’t afford to do it anymore.” While part of the reason for the cut back in nights out at places like Washington Tavern and The Pub, (two bars popular with college students) is that as a senior, Fox has a more demanding workload from classes, the main reason is that she simply can’t afford to go out every night anymore.

Fox isn’t alone on this. The bus stops that were once flooded with thirsty college students now seem vacant with the dozen or so that wait for a bus on a Wednesday night. One option students are turning to more than ever before is drinking in. The reason, “It’s cheaper to get a bottle of vodka or a case of beer and drink in, than to go out and have just a few drinks at a bar” says John Young, SUNY Albany senior.

College student Victoria Gehman, makes the best of staying in on a Wednesday night by opening a few bottles of wine, inviting over some friends, and playing board games all night.

Even bar-manager, Erin Lewis says, “I’m definitely drinking in more. It’s a lot cheaper, and the fact that people aren’t at bars-I’m going to assume they’re at home too. The bar used to be packed at two o’clock in the morning on a Thursday.

Since bartenders tend to know other bartenders, they seldom pay full price for drinks. If what Lewis, says is true, then even with getting hooked up, it is still too expensive to go out as much as before.

Some alternatives to partying besides staying in and drinking would be to follow the specials schedule around town. The deals are out there; we just have to look a little harder for them. Find out which bars you like. Learn what days they have their specials. Tuesday buckets, Wednesday pitchers- learning which bar does what deal on which night, can help save you hundreds in the long run!

Another alternative would be to get to know a bartender. When you have a friend behind the bar, you’re more than likely to be taken care of at the end of the night. Whether it’s a free shot, or a few drinks left off the tab, bartenders love giving away free stuff. However, it should also be understood that the more you are bought from the bar, the more you should leave as a tip, (or else, don’t expect the same courtesy next time).
While students and professionals share the same monetary cutbacks, the bars are feeling the pain as well. Francesca Cuzzipoli, a 22-year-old bartender and student says, “People in the service industry can’t even spend as much to go out. There’s no sign of it [the economy] picking up, it just keeps getting worse.”

While people aren’t giving up the party altogether just yet, they are definitely partying smarter. Less tips given at the bar, less time spent at the bar, and more trips to the liquor store are all driving the bar business down. Since there is no clear sign on when the economy will make a turn for the better, we have to continue to monitor our spending habits and make alterations to our social lifestyles. Students who most of which are on an already limited income are the ones who struggle most. The best advice according to Tommy Murray, SUNY Albany grad student would be to, “Do an Internet search of your favorite bars, or bars in your area-join the guest-lists, look for specials, and make friends with the bartenders and owner. That’s your best bet at saving money at a bar.”

A recession won’t end the party, especially for UAlbany students. It has just changed the way we go about the party. There is still just as much fun to be had with budget drinking, as there is with a night out on the town. Mix it up, have a good time, and most of all party hard… and responsible!


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