10:15 P.M. No one really goes out before this time anyway. First stop: The Grape.

The doors are almost misty due to the many people crowded into the one room of the Grape, and parking is a hit or miss situation. If you miss, you may have to park several blocks away.

The bouncer at the door, stuffed onto a high back chair, grabs IDs, staring at them each for a moment, and then chucks them back to their original owners.

Decorated in a t-shirt to cover his large frame, he barely articulates any grunt and the bar-goers may step in. With only one room and a circular bar in the middle, the Grape is clearly a place only to drink and congregate.

The shots are served in stout plastic cups, and you half expect the bartender to deliver your beer in a red Solo cup. The atmosphere is that of an evolved townhouse party: evolved in the amount of people there, not in their mentalities.

In order to wander around, you have to push and squeeze in between packed people, who refuse to budge and give you the typical “Fairfield stare” when you attempt to be civil.

The people at the bar are primarily FU students, all plastered from the same mold and crafted to appear much like each other. And, with Britney Spears blaring on the radio, the atmosphere is that much more superficial.

“[The students] put on a little show and act as if they’re going to meet someone, when really it’s just who you see every day,” said Ali Novotny, ’02. “And, with every male in the room playing darts, what chance do the women have of finding someone?”

“It’s just a place where Fairfield students go, hoping alcohol will pass more of the time than conversation,” said Mari Roig, ’02. “It’s like the Campus Center in a bar scene. Instead of getting your mail, you’re getting wasted.”

11:00 P.M. On to Black Rock Castle, on the border of Bridgeport.

The building is shaped like a medieval castle, and looks more like an Epcot attraction than a bar. The smiley bouncer, dressed in a shirt and tie, politely checks your ID and tells you to have a good night; the bartenders are dressed up as well.

The interior design has more of an upscale and themed décor, with crest designs on the wallpaper and dangling lamps that look like they are straight out of a 16th Century tavern. And, the drinks ordered range from shots, to beer, to mixed drinks, and wine, all served in glassware- imagine that!

You have to walk in a few feet before you even approach the room with the bar, and off in the distance there is a lower room with a dance floor and band, Bottoms Up. The bar is slightly crowded, but comfortable, and the people are very laid back and of different walks of life. Some look like they’re 12, many others closer to 40.

The band begins to play covers of Aerosmith and Bon Jovi, and the lead singer is unpretentious, decked out in a baseball t-shirt. While there is always music on the weekends, the Castle normally showcases Irish bands.

“The nicest thing about this place is that it has a diverse crowd,” said Dana Jacobs, ’02. “People from 21-50 come here, and it’s really chill. The only downfall is that it’s just a weekend bar…you never go there on the weekdays, because it’s dead.”

11:45 P.M. Next stop, right up the street: Black Rock ‘ Blue

The side of the building slopes down in a greenhouse-like effect, displaying the neon lights of various alcohol companies. The long corridor to enter the bar is filled with posters of bands, and is lit with faint black light. In order to enter, you must pay a cover of $5 to see the band of the night, Simply Jim.

The band covered various songs, including Georgia Satellites “Keep Your Hands To Yourself,” Pearl Jam’s “Black,” and a rock version of Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline.” The front man resembled a slighter and more androgynous version of The Who’s Roger Daltry.

The bar holds about 100 people, again a diverse group, although anything feels diverse coming from the Grape. However, Black Rock ‘ Blue has a reputation for being a biker bar, and brightly colored hair and piercings are common fashion statements there.

The stage is to the left and a mosh pit-like area of the floor, and the rest of the bar circles around behind you. A moose’s head hangs above the bar, with bras dangling from its antlers and a cigarette suspended in its mouth. The ruggedness of the bar is definitely apparent.

“It took me like, four hours to get a drink, and when I did, I felt like it was just thrown in my face” said Jeannette McNicholas, ’02.

A major complaint about this bar was that the crowd seemed to be older. “Apparently you must be 30 to enter,” said Novotny.

The bands are generally fun at Black Rock ‘ Blue however, and Simply Jim was no exception. Providing a change of scenery from the usual bars, the excursion was entertaining with music, and a pool table and foosball on the left side of the bar.

12:30 A.M. Back to the Grape.

Same people, same scene. Beat.

Conclusion: Bars in Connecticut are definitely an experience.

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