Parties are just as important to the college experience as textbooks. For every lengthy lecture, there is a keg stand. Even colleges that pride themselves on academic excellence parade their nightlife to potential students. With prom being the closest thing to a party that I experienced in high school, I was amped to go to the parties that Asher Roth rapped about in “I Love College.”
When I began my first college semester during the summer of 2014 at the University of Florida, I was told there were parties damn near every night. And there were. There was a party literally every night and you didn’t have to do doctorate level research to find them. But since I had classes that did require a lot of research, I decided to focus on school for the first couple of weeks instead of dancing my face off and getting wasted.
On my third Saturday at school, I was invited to an off-campus party. I remember hearing that off-campus shenanigans were the best and thought that this party would be the perfect introduction to the UF nightlife.
At around 11:45 p.m., four of us got into a hoopty-of-a-car to go to our first college party. It was me, my friend Garvin, his roommate Alex and Alex’s friend Juan.* Alex was the driver. Juan was the designated driver (in case of emergency). The drive was around 30 minutes long but felt way longer than any episode of Seinfeld I ever watched. When we arrived, there were plenty of cars outside. All of them were hoopties, too. The house was raggedy—the only kind college students could afford to rent. There were a bunch of older dudes in the corner that I swore must have graduated years earlier, but who cared when there was cheap liquor and a room dedicated to smoking hookah?
This “party” was not exactly what I expected. Sure, there were booze, loud music and plenty of opportunities to make bad decisions, but it still felt incomplete. I was expecting a PARTY. Something along the lines of a Worldstarhiphop video or Project X. I expected there to be 800 sweaty dudes that look like Chief Keef, white girls twerking and random fights. I expected the females to look like goddesses. Was this party like that at all?
Perhaps my expectations were unrealistic. But I had stumbled into a kickback my uncle would have enjoyed, and I was not entertained. Alex and Juan were, however, entertained. Too entertained. They both ended up so drunk that they could not safely drive us the 30 minutes back to campus. Alex ended up passed out on the toilet as if he were the king of rock ‘n’ roll. I’m an Elvis fan too, but c’mon, man!
It was at this point that Garvin and I decided to walk home. Little did we know that we were a solid two-hour walking distance from campus. We also didn’t know that Gainesville was a ghetto beyond the University of Florida, but boy did we learn that night!
We began our walk at 3:30 a.m. in the grimiest of neighborhoods with an iPhone as our only viable resource. This neighborhood looked like it was from a Plies music video. While we were walking, the worst-case scenario occurred: we got lost. Thanks Siri. As we searched for our way out of the neighborhood, a car quickly skidded and accelerated in our direction. If you’ve seen Friday you know that nothing good can come from this.
I heard the passengers yelling at us and instinctively jumped the nearest fence and ran. Usain Bolt had nothing on me that night. I don’t know what the people in that car intended, but I’m assuming they weren’t offering directions.
My friend and I continued to get lost because my iPhone kept rerouting and sending us everywhere besides campus. We ended up stumbling through a bunch of dark alleys while dogs barked at us. Loudly. It was great stuff for B-rated horror movies, I swear.
With my night transforming from Project X to Scream, all I wanted to do was make it back to my dorm. We finally began to see familiar sites after walking for what felt like hours. The sun was rising when we walked past The Reitz Union.
My first college party was not what had been advertised. Instead of having a fun night I couldn’t remember, I had a horrifying night that I will never forget. My night went from 0 to 100 real quick. Luckily, after I networked enough, I found parties that were all I ever wanted: dancing, tons of people. And girls. Girls that did, in fact, look like goddesses.
I did learn something from my first party experience though. Always have more than one designated driver.
*Names changed to ensure privacy.