Recollections of Yale, across the decades. Send your own memories to be considered for posting to, with subject line “For Memories.”
Ico print Print | Ico email Email | Facebook | | RSS

On the town in the Elm City (Mar. 1999)

Contrary to popular stereotypes, Yalies do like to have fun. And even though many have probably opened and closed Sterling Memorial Library more often than any local bar, I have always told my non-Yale friends that while Yalies do party, I just always happen to be busy studying. However, on a recent Saturday night, accompanied by two close friends (both named Mike) who know more about New Haven’s bars than I do, I decided to try to find out just where it was we go on the weekends to have a good time.

The bar-hopping habits of undergraduates are governed by the following principles: We like to drink, occasionally quite heavily, at places where we can get in (which is more complicated than one might think since someone in a group is invariably underage) and where we only have to interact with other Yalies. The one exception to these rules is that we are willing to share dance floors with non-Yalies, but only if each group has its own corner to sit in during breaks.

Last year, Gecko, on the corner of College and Crown, was the most popular Yale hangout. But the addition of a metal detector at the door and a large crowd of beeper-clad patrons has driven undergraduates away in droves. Likewise, Richter’s Taft Tap Room on Chapel Street, known for its half-yard glasses of beer, has also become known for its aggressive ID policy, which means it is only popular with the relatively small number of undergraduates who are of age.

So what bars are full of Yale students? Kavanagh’s on Chapel Street, for one. Decorated with Yale memorabilia, Kavanagh’s has a bar frequented by locals that is separated from the tables where students sit, talk, and play the odd drinking game. On this particular Saturday, the place was packed with undergraduates, including two ex-girlfriends (one for each of the Mikes), a girl with whom the relationship never got so far that she could be considered an ex (one of the Mikes), and plenty of potential dates for the upcoming Winter Ball (for both the Mikes and other amorously inclined patrons).

Rudy’s, which like Kavanagh’s featured rooms divided between Yalies and non-Yalies, also had a large number of undergraduates present. At the town-gown music club Toad’s Place, fraternity members and athletes—the baseball hat–wearing crowd also known as the beautiful people—dominated the crowd at the Saturday night dance party. Staying true to form, Yalies stuck to the left side of the bar and students from other local universities staked out territory on the right. The groups met while gyrating to obscenely loud music on the dance floor or ordering 99-cent drafts.

Five and a half hours, seven bars, and one brain-splitting headache later, I had discovered that Yalies do indeed go out and have fun on Saturday nights—maybe even a little too much fun, which might explain why the library does not open until noon on Sundays.

Sandy Christopher ’99 is a history major in Morse College. He was already 21 when he researched this column.

Filed under drinking, alcohol, 1990s
The comment period has expired.