Between a crippling Words With Friends addiction and a daily barrage of emails, my phone is nearly always buzzing. So nothing seemed unusual when it went off Thursday night until I saw the cause—a tweet from the university’s Party Positive account encouraging me to drink water before going out.
“Great advice,” I thought in between sips of my second Long Island Iced Tea, just a little late. I had already begun my downtown journey and had definitely crossed the alcoholic Rubicon. This was just the beginning of a long, strange voyage through Blacksburg’s 21 and up nightlife.
The genesis for this story is far less exciting than the subject matter would imply. There were no fiery arguments in the CT office with me screaming, “The people need to know, damn it!” There was no pleading with College Media Solutions to stop being so square and let its writers run free. Instead, it began when a charming editor came to me with a proposal: live tweet and chronicle one night in Blacksburg saloons and turn it into a features story. This was like asking Cookie Monster to go on assignment at the Mrs. Fields factory.
As one of many students too baby-faced or law abiding to find their way into bars until their 21st birthday, I’ve now fully embraced the downtown lifestyle. The relaxed atmosphere of an evening in Big Al’s seems downright revelatory to newly legal adults accustomed to socializing in sweaty, high-decibel apartment parties.
While only a fool would believe that drinking is not a large part of bars’ appeal, intoxication really is only one aspect of the experience. Downtown’s central function is serving as a Mecca of senior year social life. Upperclassmen new and old converge on Main Street in droves every weekend and day that begins with “T,” creating what amounts to be a party with seemingly everyone you know at Virginia Tech. No one remembers the drinks they consumed the night before, but they’ll usually have stories about running into an old friend or vague freshman year acquaintance.
Patrick and I were given instructions to spend a Thursday night at the local watering holes “tweeting” our observations on the Blacksburg nightlife. This was not exactly what you would call hard-hitting journalism but it seemed like a fun opportunity to try something different. It also seemed like a perfectly reasonable excuse to blow up my normally restrained Twitter feed with any and all odd musings that came to mind.
The Party Positive team will be pleased to know that we took precautions to avoid ending up like drooling Neanderthals incapable of doing our jobs. Before embarking on the mission, I polished off several Gatorades and enough carbs to make Dr. Atkins roll over in his grave. We’re professionals here, people—we know what we’re doing.