Why 30 Year Olds Should Not Frequent College Bars
I was excited to receive an invitation from Val to attend a happy hour at McFadden's last Saturday. I've recently been drawn into her excellent circle of wonderful friends, and was delighted at the prospect of spending time with a few of these fab men and women. I had been to McFadden's before for various kickball events, but never on a weekend. I knew its rep as a college bar, due to its proximity to GW and Georgetown, but had yet to experience the establishment in its full raucous glory.
Those who know me are familiar with my ability to get down. Despite 10 years of ballet & jazz training I'm not much of a dancer. But I do know how to drink, and always relish the opportunity to let off some steam by kicking back a few adult beverages on a weekend. Problem is, I can't drink as much as I used to. Over the past several years my tolerance has taken a nose-dive, and now several beverages leave me feeling sluggish and looking tired and worn out. But that never seems to keep me from trying. Normally, I limit such activity to dives and the occasional upscale hotel bar. Atmospheres that are relatively chill, where you can hold a conversation with the person standing next to you without have to talk directly into their ear. Places where there is room to stand and a bouncer isn't constantly chasing you away from the only patch of open space. And most notably, places where people do not dance on the bar and offer their fellow patrons the opportunity to vote on their hotness.
This my friends, was a truly terrifying spectacle. At some point into the night, a dozen or so young ladies climbed up on to the bar and starting shaking their stuff for the crowd. Ho, hum, I thought. Nothing special here. But then came the judging process where the crowd seemed to be voting on which of the specimens before them was the "best" or "hottest" or whatever. To be honest, it was extremely loud in there, so it was hard to understand exactly what was going on. But young ladies were bumping and grinding with invisible partners for all to see, while drunk 20-something men ogled and cat-called.
Now, if that makes them happy, it's their business and not mine. But my maternal, sensible side was aghast and sadden by what it saw. Where's the line between liberated self-acceptance/pride over one's body and shameless exploitation? The topic is debated every time a new pop tartlet climbs the charts or some aspect of stripper culture seeps into the mainstream. If men have long gotten off by seeing young ladies flaunt their nubile young bodies, does dancing on a bar for the honor of being the hottest lady in McFadden's conform to that sexist dynamic? Or are the women the ones in control? Are they calling the shots, inverting centuries-old paradigms of gender politics? These are not new questions, and sadly, the confluence of pop culture and the way people live their every day lives continues to obscure the answer. I do know that when I saw one woman in particular, she of an extremely hot little body, writhing on the bar with her tube top dangerously close to sliding off her body, I wanted to reach up and wrap my sweater around her.
Again, bumping and grinding on a bar is a personal choice, and I do not begrudge these women the opportunity to do whatever makes them happy. Just because it's not for me, doesn't mean it's wrong or bad. But it certainly raises quite a few questions. More so than one's typical Saturday night activities, that's for sure.
So anyway. Between the hot lady contest, the 20 minute long wait for drinks (which included watching the bartenders pound Miller Lights), the pounding sound system, and being stepped on repeatedly, it was time to call it a night. I found an ATM in the lobby of a chic hotel nearby, hailed a cab, and found my way home. In short, I was happy to have spent time with the crew, but I don't know how much longer I can go on frequenting such establishments