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Cards at the bars: the new Oxford nightlife

<p>Even with the pandemic surging, seniors are still trying to make the best of a new bar experience. (Photo taken in Oct. 2020) </p>

Even with the pandemic surging, seniors are still trying to make the best of a new bar experience. (Photo taken in Oct. 2020)

In the past, seniors have enjoyed house parties, bar crawls and throwing their education to the wind in the last few months and weeks of their college experience, but the pandemic has changed all of this. 

Curfews are now in place, while certain bars require reservations and have guidelines that restrict students from getting their usual senior year sendoff. 

However, this past semester, seniors still managed to get their bar fix or make the most of their last year in other ways. 

Senior information systems major Michael Grothaus attended Trivia Night at Top Deck every Wednesday with 10 of his friends. 

This became a weekly tradition after Grothaus visited Brick Street his first week back during the fall semester, only to find that the bar, typically packed wall-to-wall, did not offer the same experience it used to. Reservations were now required and patrons had to remain seated at their tables at all times. Masks were required if moving around the establishment. 

“The whole value of going to Brick is gone, basically, in my opinion,” Grothaus said.

So, he and his friends decided to go to a bar that would offer more than just expensive drinks and more of an experience.

“With Trivia Night, you can actually do something rather than just sitting at the table. I would say that it’s actually made my bar experience a little bit better,” Grothaus said. 

Even outside of the bars, Grothaus managed to make the most of his first semester of senior year with the people he lives with. His house decided to purchase cornhole boards and an inflatable pool to use when the weather was nice, and eventually, this got the attention of Grothaus’ next-door neighbors who wanted to join in on the fun. 

“I think I made more new friends during the beginning of the pandemic than I did in any of the other semesters before,” Grothaus said. 

Despite all of the ways Grothaus has adapted to pandemic life, he still feels robbed of his final year of college. 

“I think the morale is a little down just because the overall college experience just hasn’t been what I expected,” Grothaus said. 

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Senior Italian major Cami Cicero shares a similar sentiment. 

She expected to be able to see all of her friends whenever she wanted during her senior year. Now, the pandemic makes it hard to do that before they go their separate ways. 

“It does feel kind of unfair,” Cicero said. “Because, you know, if we had followed guidelines and maybe gone into lockdown and if people cooperated more in the early stages, we may have gotten a more normal senior year.”

Last semester, Cicero attempted to have a normal senior year by visiting the uptown bars with her roommate and two other friends. The group usually brought a deck of cards, as well as other party games such as Cards Against Humanity and Uno to keep themselves busy while sitting at the tables. 

She feels safer going out to the bars than she expected to be. 

“I think I was expecting them to not adhere to guidelines as much when I first came in the beginning of the semester,” Cicero said. “But every single place I’ve been to, no one’s standing, everyone is sitting at their tables and has masks on, and it’s been really good, honestly.”

However, not everyone feels as comfortable going out to their usual places to grab a drink.

Senior accounting major Hannah Allman hasn’t been to a bar since the pandemic began. Before the fall semester started, her house came to a mutual agreement that they would not go out to any of the bars their senior year. 

Instead, Allman and her housemates had small gatherings with people within their “bubble” — people they would see normally through studying and hanging out. 

Despite not going out, they still found ways to bring the bars to their home. Allman and her friends even bought and decorated wristbands for themselves to wear during beer pong tournaments. 

“I think we’ve done a pretty good job of being able to make it fun,” Allman said. 

Even though she hasn’t gone to the bars and doesn’t plan on going anytime soon, Allman is trying not to focus on the parts of her senior year experience she’s missing out on. 

“I think everybody is making the best choices that they can for themselves at this point, and I definitely get people going to the bar for their senior year,” Allman said. “It's just choices we’ve made as a house to do it a little bit different.”