While parties at fraternities around The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus are very popular, that is only where the night begins for students nineteen or older.
After a pregame at an apartment or fraternity house, most eligible students head to one of the many bars on campus. Some of the most popular bars on campus are Kam’s, Firehaus, The Clybourne, The Red Lion, and Joe’s Brewery.
Students have varying reasons why they prefer certain bars.
“Red Lion is my favorite bar because I have the most fun there and the good music makes for a fun dancing atmosphere,” Lauren Gregory, a sophomore majoring in astronomy, said.
Older students, however, prefer Brothers Bar and Grill.
“I like Brothers the most because it’s not too crazy and I just get to chill there. Lately, it’s been getting crazier, but I still like it,” Alejandro Puentes, a junior majoring in mechanical engineering said.
Bar culture at Illinois is more prevalent than at other schools. Some students described it as “a big deal’ and “crazy”.
Grace Rull, a 21 year old, is a bartender at Brothers and would describe the bar culture as wild.
Even though you cannot drink until age 21, many 19 year olds do not have a hard time getting their hands on drinks once they are in the bar.
“It is very easy to get drinks even though I am not 21,” Kevin Rivas, 19, said.
Another student recalled her experience regarding getting drinks even though she is underage.
“I’ve never been carded and if they are carding you just get someone else to buy for you,” Gregory said.
A friend of Rivas said that it is only hard to get drinks if you are under 21 on big weekends such as Halloween, Unofficial, and Mom’s or Dad’s Weekend.
During these weekends, police are more active in the bar scene and crack down on underage drinking. The bars are more likely to be highly populated during these weekends, so campus and town police tend go be more on the lookout.
One of the attractive things about pregaming at a fraternity or going to a party at a fraternity is that the fraternity covers the cost for the alcohol. At a bar, you are paying for your drinks. Over time, the money spent at the bar can add up.
“I spend about $40 to $50 each time I go to the bar,” Puentes said.
Sororities and fraternities will have tabs at certain bars or rent them out completely.
“I usually only spend 5 dollars because I only go out with my sorority because there’s a tab”, Brittany Caridy, 21, said.
As long as students are able to get into bars and have easy access to alcohol, the bar culture will only continue to rise at U of I.