A Sober Night at Grottos

An Observation of Drinking Culture in a College Bar


Join in me in my observation of the wild college student. You like nature documentaries? Then this one is for you.

Have you ever found yourself wondering what you looked like while you are drunk? Then go to a bar completely sober. Trust me, it will change your perspective.


Drunk College Student. To define simple, the drunken college student is an interesting specimen who wanders from bar to bar down Main Street. This specimen tends to drink copious amounts of alcohol until they are stumbling about unable to coherently speak and open their eyes full. Like most specimens, they need a breeding ground and boy does Main Street have quite the nesting ground. Grotto’s the musty, dark pizza joint at the very end or the very beginning of Main Street- depending on how you look at it- breeds the astounding drunken college student. In this natural habitat, the drunk student thrives like you would not believe. Let’s take a closer look.

Our observation begins on a Thursday night. Thursday night’s start the drunken college student’s weekend bender and the normally quite Main Street is bustling in excitement. People from all majors, Greek life and non-Greek life, parties versus non-partiers alike flock to the bars or a frat party depending upon their legality. The experience would be a new one- sober experiences at a bar is not something a college student can say they have done quite often.


The line at Catherine Rooney’s Irish Pub or Rooney’s, as the locals call it, was long. The line wrapped all the way around the side of the building and down an alley way. But, it can be expected on a Thursday night to wait in a decently long line. The shrieks can be heard from different points in the line. They were loud, somewhat obnoxious, and could be heard all the way down on the other side of Main Street. Everywhere the specimen was swarming, junior and seniors were running to Rooney’s or trying to get into the other bars to continue of their binge drinking habits. I had never noticed so much of this before when I was also as drunk as these individuals. What a sight.

My groups of friends, my twin brother’s group of friends, and my boyfriend’s group of friends were all standing in a circle. Ah… what a rowdy group indeed. 10 to 12 of the drunken college students were surrounding me, starting to feel a bit of anxiety trying to keep up with a drunk conversation while sober, I turned around and noticed a group of girls who had definitely pre-gamed a bit too hard. I focused my observations on them.

The group was wearing shockingly almost the same attire that consisted of skirts or black ripped jeans with low-cut body suits and some form of high heels. One of the girls with long, beautiful blonde hair, black jeans, and a body suit so low-cut that she had no choice but to keep adjusting her shirt just so her breasts wouldn’t pop out unexpectedly. She was stumbling around her group of friends, muttering things in response to their conversation regarding “an incredibly hot guy up at the front of the line.” It became more and more obvious as I watched her swaying back and forth while it seemed almost impossible for her to keep her eyes open that she had already had too much to drink and was not going to make it the entire night. It was only 9 o’clock.

My rowdy group of drunk college student decided that although pitcher night is “lit”, as one of my brother’s friend so eloquently put it, it was not worth the wait. This decision was made 20 minutes after we had not moved from our spot in the alley way, so slowly walking behind my fast-moving group of friends, we made our way to the Grotto’s line.


Ah, Grottos. The place where musty air, crappy beer, and dark lighting made 21/22 year olds thrive in a drunken environment. The bartenders serve drink after drink while the night gets hazier and time seems to tick in slow motion or fly by depending on if it’s a NIGHT at Grottos or a DAY at Grottos. To give further explanation, any student of legal age has described the after-day drink Saturday afternoon that somehow turns into staying there until close the longest “marathon” of your life. It will literally feel like you are spending years of your life in this pizza joint. But luckily Thursday nights tend to be blur of “before you know it is over” kind of night.

Time is a weird concept and adding alcohol only makes it that much more interesting. Being sober time seems to move at a normal pace but adding alcohol the night becomes a blur and before you know it you are in bed passed out with your alarm clock blaring in your ear. Was I about to experience a whole new world?; I wondered as I pulled the door open to another long line. A group of guys were staring in through the glass window peering into the bar while tapping the glass to get the attention of their friends who had miraculously made it in before the crowds came.

The Grottos line comparable to the Rooney’s line expect this one was moving a bit quicker for once. We were inside in no time. The overwhelming smell of beer hit your nostrils as the sound of laughter and small shrieks hit your ears. I don’t know what I expected to observe as I walked into Grotto’s, I was normally extremely excited to be there. But being sober in it did not seem as intriguing as the flurry of people bustled about me. Nonetheless I walked further in, all my friends were sitting at a high-top table near the bar and I thought what a perfect place to set up camp for the night.


As the hours ticked on it was interesting to watch what Grottos would look like if you were just peering in and it also was quite painful compared to my other drunken experiences here. There was so much to look at it. In the corner, there was a couple who looked like they were having an intense fight, she was on the verge of tears and he didn’t seem care too much. To the right of that couple were two girls trying to push through a huge mob of kids to get to the bar in the middle of room. They were struggling though because of the sheer amount of people who wanted to get the bartenders attention. Why do we enjoy this so much? I found myself thinking that question a lot throughout the night.

The bartenders have it the worst out of everyone in the bar. Even worse than the bouncers must have it. They have drunk kids screaming orders in their face and or staring intently at them like he is a dead animal and they are vultures ready to dive in once his life is fully ended. This sounds morbid, but wow, the aggressive pushing and lack of respect some people had for the bartender was astounding. Some kids would be extremely respectful and say “please” and “thank you so much” while interacting with the bartender but others were not quite the same. In contrast the bartender had the same attitude to almost every person he interacted with he looked directly at them when he was ready to take their order and then told them the amount once he handed them their drinks. No malice if they were rude and even when they were polite he had the same tone of “ugh can this night end.”


My camping spot was starting to get less crowded as the night dwindled down. The couples who had been flirting all night were staring longingly into one another eyes and smiling so wide that their lips might just fall off. It is the beginning of these flirtatious encounters that seems to be so fun and exciting for the drunken paired off students. What more interesting than a person while you are drunk??? There was a couple that was under observation much of the night. They were having what must have been a cute conversation because the female student could not stop smiling and looking at her male suitor. The most exhilarating moment was about to happen- look closely! Their first kiss. The male suitor told a particularly funny joke causing our female to laugh so hard that she had fallen into his chest from leaning too far forward. Then like the romantic comedies- the guy put his hand on her cheek and pulled her face in and sealed the kiss. The couple did not stop kissing until basically closing. Gross. In which point they walked out of the bar holding hands back to one of their lairs.

In contrast to this super affectionate couple, others did not have such luck. One of the male students had walk away disinterested in which case the female looked seemingly confused walked away. The female tried to find her friends, but it seemed to be a lost cause. And there was one other female who was super flirty in the beginning and now she seemed like she was looking for any possible exit to escape from her suitor. How did our first couple get so lucky???


My boyfriend and I made our way out of the dimly lit bar. Main Street was beginning to empty with few straggling drunk college students wounded from their alcoholic endeavors. Right in my view a drunk college male projectile vomited what seemed like an endless stream of liquid. Yucky.

College is a weird time for all and drinking seems to be a normal part of our species. What can you learn from this documentary? Drink responsibility ladies and gentlemen, but still enjoy your college experience.