Manhattan College students live in the world of fake IDs and needing to know “the right person” to enter a bar. We don’t have mixers or frat house parties, and it’s undeniable that the way city schools party is unlike any other college in the nation. For current students this is the only world we know, but 30 years ago MC kids were actually partying a little bit differently.
Some students who have family members who attended MC before the drinking age was raised have probably heard the stories. It was a time where everyone on campus could drink and 242nd street was filled with bars instead of food joints. Café 1853 was called Plato’s Cave and served alcohol instead of Starbucks. The Quadrangle offered coupons for beer instead of helpful tips to get through finals week. Instead of trying to recruit students for different clubs, the newspaper was recruiting students for a beer blast.
That kind of life is something that current students have only seen in the movies. The fact that Café 1853 used to be filled with beer and wine from 8 to 10 p.m. on Thursday nights is enough to make anyone’s head spin. Nowadays Friday nights in Café 1853 are filled with students on their Mac computers sipping a late night coffee, but in the ‘80s Friday there consisted of night cocktails and “The best beer special around!!”
Instead of outdoor movie nights on the Quad, the MC Social Life committee would hold mixers that would go from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Admission was $3 and dancing, bands, a DJ and alcohol were all a part of it. What happened after that party ended? Well, students would flood the streets of Broadway hopping in and out of bars of course.
Then the year 1985 came around and that life vanished. Former Quadrangle writer, George Mahoney, wrote an Op/Ed piece when the drinking age was raised that summed up how students felt at the time. He quoted a verse from the bible that stated, “There is a crying for wine in the streets: all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone. Isaiah XXIV.”
Students believed that once the drinking age was raised that the party was over. Suddenly Plato’s was no longer a place to get a beer at 7 p.m. on a Friday, and all the bars that were filled with students were now empty. Students in ‘85 truly believed that the bar school mentality was now six feet under.
While there are no more big parties in the dorms or beer blasts in Café 1853, MC students have still continued to hold onto the long-standing tradition of being a bar school, and hopefully will for years to come.