It is strikingly apparent that the social scene here on the Hill is hard to relate to the real world. Where else is it entirely acceptable to spend Saturday night playing drinking games in a dorm room, dressed in a sparkly tank top and L.L. Bean boots? For of-age students at the College, however, the Marchese Blue Light Pub provides a much more universally acceptable drinking environment.
Learning to interact with peers at the pub comes with a learning curve, and this learning curve persists into the “real world.” The mediums that college students use to socialize, like drinking games and competitions, are no longer available, so individuals are forced to rely on conversation. “I think [the pub] is a lot like the real world because you no longer meet new people by playing against them in die or Beirut; you meet them casually at a bar,” Katie Unsworth ’10 said, a recent graduate who now works as a paralegal in Portland, ME. The pub offers its guests the opportunity to play games like billiards, foosball, beanbag toss and a wide array of board games, but drinking-centered games like Beirut and flip cup don’t find their way from the dorms to the pub.
Unsworth cited the diverse crowd as her favorite part of pub life on the Hill. “It gave me a chance to hang out with people that I would not have necessarily spent social time with otherwise, because we didn't usually end up at the same parties,” she said. Current seniors agree with Unsworth’s retrospective observations. “It’s cool that seniors from different social groups hang out and interact [at the pub],” Alex Pan ’11 said. “In that way it’s like training for the ‘real world.’”
Danny Wasserman ’09 agrees that the pub creates a more diverse social space on campus; however, he pointed out that conversation is too often limited to matters taking place on the Hill. “College-neutral conversation is healthy but entirely foreign when [you enter the real world] considering that while at the pub, nine times out of 10, you and your homies are talkin' shop about professors, hookups, and workload,” Wasserman said. He suggests that the true post-graduate challenge for students is adjusting to a world that does not provide 2000 ready-made friends. “What is both the social blessing and the curse of Colby is the readily available/omnipresent friend infrastructure,” Wasserman said.
Some students and alums hesitate to think of the pub as a social learning curve, citing the “bubble-like” atmosphere that even a campus bar cannot pop. “I guess it does teach more responsible drinking,” Heather Arvidson ’11 said. “But it’s definitely not normal to walk into a bar and know everyone there. However, most of my bar experiences happened abroad in Botswana, so I guess I’m not the best judge [of bar practices].”
Although social pressure can help students monitor their alcohol intake, the pub does not entirely eradicate aggressive drinking behaviors. It is not uncommon for the bartenders to have to cut off intoxicated students, but the 1:00 AM closing time helps to check excessive consumption.
“In the real world, are you ever going to walk into a bar and always know everyone there?” Unsworth said. “Probably not, but I would love it if a place like that existed.”
Despite her many great memories of the place, Unsworth is perhaps most nostalgic about the drink prices at the Blue Light Pub. “Enjoy that while you can,” she said. Pabst Blue Ribbon for $1.25 and a seemingly endless supply of free popcorn is a hard bargain to beat. If you’re lucky, you many even be immortalized with a drink named in your honor...just be sure to leave a generous tip.