From the Filthy Frats to the Best Bars: A Reflection on Four Years of Penn State Parties

frat to barWhen it comes to partying, it seems like we’re never satisfied.

In high school, we sat around in our friends’ basements and chugged the cheap (and most likely expired) beer that our BFF’s older brother left behind when he moved to college. We were wishing, hoping and waiting for the day we could step into what seemed like the holy grail of parties: a frat house.

Welcome to Penn State, the happiest of valleys and one of the best party schools in America. We work hard in classes, which means we have earned the right to party hard on the weekends. You put on your tightest dress, cutest wedges and pick the frat with the loudest music. After standing in line for 30 minutes and flirting with the somewhat sketchy (but potentially cute) pledge working the door, you’re finally in. Behold the sticky floors, smell of B.O. and guys grabbing your butt without asking. Um, I was expecting Animal House…not American Pie.

Again, you’re left to wonder if there’s more out there. What can you do to fulfill your partying needs without feeling like you’ve been violated by a drunk college dude?

Let me introduce you to the next level of fun: the 21 and Over Club.

It might seem like a huge tease to those of you who have yet to earn the poorly-constructed plastic green hat from the Phyrst, but there’s a world of difference between waiting in line with your girls on frat row (because your guy friends would prevent you from getting into the frat) and waiting in line with ALL of your buddies at Indigo on a Saturday night.

Sure, the floors are still pretty sticky and you have to pay for your drinks now, but you don’t know what a rush is until you have felt the blood flood to your face after screaming “Bye Bye Bye” at the top of your lungs at The Gaff. No more will you have to deal with an intoxicated “bro” spilling his beer all over you. Now, you just wipe up the droplets of your best friend’s peach tea pitcher while you sway to the sounds of My Hero Zero at Café on any given Friday night. And you haven’t experienced life until you’ve skipped your homework on Tuesdays to do-si-doe around Pickles for country night.

On TV and in the movies, you see what college is supposed to be like: crazy neon lights at raves, people beer-bonging questionable liquids and kids going nuts. Nobody remembers anything, yet their college experience is the best four (or five) years of their lives.

But for me, it’s the nights I spend downtown with my roommates, laughing so hard that my Monkey Boy spills out of my nose and dancing like an idiot to 90’s throwbacks, not caring who sees. It’s these nights that I will look back to when I’m an alum, wishing I could go back. While the frat parties I went to as a freshman provide some hilarious stories, there’s nothing like kicking back after class with a cold one in hand and your friends surrounding you at your favorite spot.

It’s pretty much guaranteed you’ll go through a stage right before you turn 21 where you’re sick of fighting your way down frat row and are disgusted by house parties. There will be lots of movie nights and Netflix binges, but just know that change is coming. The flash of the camera as you walk down the stairs to the Phyrst at midnight is like the light at the end of the tunnel: it’s the beginning of an era.

But all in all, it’s not the party that makes the night. It’s who you’re with and how you choose to spend your time. Heck, even us Gaff-goers need a break sometimes. Netflix nights will always be acceptable (and just as memorable as the Gaff’s N’Sync songs if done with your besties).

Photos by Natalie Runnerstrom