This semester, midnight on Route 1 is a much different experience than in years past. Instead of the usual scene — lively hordes of plastered students shouting at the top of their lungs, filling the sidewalks while waiting to enter R.J. Bentley’s, Cornerstone or Terrapin’s Turf — it’s now much quieter, with only a few scattered groups of brave (writer’s note: you can substitute “super-spreading” for “brave”) bargoers milling about. Even the trash bins, typically overflowing with pizza boxes and White Claw cans, are noticeably empty.
This is probably a good thing, as, let’s face it, being pressed up against countless other students in a sweaty bar all night is a great way to get sick in general, let alone during a pandemic. However, if you’re like me, you can’t help but miss the feeling of absolute hedonistic freedom that comes from downing four vodka cranberries and dancing like no one’s watching to Top 40 hits from five years ago with people you’ve never met before and will never meet again.
If this is what you’re craving, you’re in luck. I’ve created a handy do-it-yourself guide so you too can bring all your favorite aspects of the College Park bars to your own home! Using a few materials that can be borrowed from friends or purchased for less than the price of a typical cover fee, you’ll be back to sipping bottom-shelf liquor and waking up hungover next to a half-eaten box of Marathon Fries in no time.
- One six-pack of Natural Light, or your favorite cheap beer
- One handle of the cheapest liquor you can find (MD 20/20 is a classic)
- One two-liter bottle of off-brand soda or juice
- One package of red plastic cups
- One can of stew or chowder (the chunkier, the better)
- Central heating, or at least two space heaters
- One single strip of color-changing LED lights
- Speakers (at least two)
- A small group of friends
First, the most important step: Pour your beer (or other sticky substance) all over any hard surfaces you can find. To see if you’ve done enough, put on some flip-flops and walk around. The floor should be adhesive enough to pull them off with every step you take. Follow this by scattering at least 10 plastic cups with varying degrees of emptiness on the ground. If you’re lucky, one of your friends will slip and fall like a Mario Kart character driving over a banana peel.
Next, turn the heat in your living space all the way up. Only max heat (78 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) can come close to the rainforest-like ecosystem cultivated by 300-plus twenty-somethings packed like sardines into a space smaller than a lecture hall. If you’re really trying for perfection, open all of your windows and let the mid-September Maryland air fill your apartment with enough humidity to make you feel like you just stepped out of a swimming pool and forgot to bring a towel.
In terms of lighting, the dimmer the better. Everyone is more attractive when you can’t make out their facial features! One strip of LED lights will suffice, and since literally every college student seems to think they’re the height of interior design, you shouldn’t have any problem finding one.
For music, turn on any pre-made Spotify playlist you can find with a title like “Throwback Hits” or “Best of the 2010s.” This will ensure you know all the lyrics and can sing along off-key at the top of your lungs, even while your drunk brain is running at 30 percent function. After all, what is a night out without a rendition of Far East Movement’s “Like a G6” with the boys?
The bathroom is a crucial environment to capture if you truly want to emulate the bar atmosphere. To achieve the correct ambiance, play looping audio that alternates between various sobbing and vomiting sounds. Pour your can of stew (remember — the chunkier, the better) all over the toilet, making sure to focus your aim everywhere but the bowl. The seat, the floor, the toilet paper dispenser — the entire bathroom is your canvas!
After all your hard work on this DIY project, it’s time for you to relax in your at-home College Park bar. That is, after you pound a few Natural Lights (drinks are expensive!) and wait outside your door for an hour or two to simulate the Disney World-level lines. Nervously flash your (obviously) fake ID as you walk in, rattling off the zip code from Dayton, Ohio, that you memorized only minutes before.
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for all night: Take a sip of your drink, which should be at least 70 percent liquor, and fall into a state of complete nirvana. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done, and enjoy some quality time with your friends that won’t land you in quarantine housing. Trust me, I’ve lived in the Leonardtown Community, and that is the last place you ever want to be.