When you return to campus after your OA trips sweaty and frightened, having built a house or killed a bear or whatever you do on frosh trips these days, you will face a new set of challenges. You will now have to walk around campus without a map, figure out exactly what a Prox is used for and awkwardly bond with your roommates.
What you will soon discover, however, is that the week before classes is the biggest party week of the year for the rest of the school. While you’re getting set up, everyone else is getting down. It is during this time that you will first be introduced to the eating club scene.
If you went on a frosh trip, your first trip to the Street will look like this: You and seven of your newest best friends will be huddled together, shuffling down Prospect behind one of your kind and gentle trip leaders to his or her eating club. You will be heckled by the drunken hoards of up- perclassmen that will recognize you as freshmen since people don’t generally go to Prospect in huge groups unless they are afraid of getting lost or eaten, the way freshmen are. Don’t mind us, though. We’re just looking for fresh souls to destroy. That’s generally what us upperclassmen are up to.
But to be fair, we decided to make it a bit easier for you. As the arts and culture section of the ‘Prince,’ in addition to providing the sample of our coverage you’ll find on the inside pages, it’s our obligation to ensure you’re properly prepared for your first forays onto our namesake Street. Yes, we know Prospect Avenue is an avenue. But it is known only as the Street. Nothing else.
That was lesson number one. Lesson number two is to always read the ‘Prince.’ Even better, join it. That way you’ll always know what’s going on.
But we digress. Below, you’ll find a handy guide to the conventional wisdom about each club. A standard disclaimer: these are stereotypes that you should take with a grain of salt. Like most things in life, the eating clubs are what you make of them. Do your best to visit them all before settling on your favorite.
The eating clubs are the center of social life on campus, and for many upperclassmen they become homes and families. And it’s not very often people get to pick their families, so do your research. Best of luck, kids.
Sign-in: Charter consistently draws engineers, thanks to its proximity to the E-Quad. It boasts a wealthy graduate board and a large, well-kept building. Food is better than average. Most crowded on Friday nights.
Street’s Take: Charter can be a fun club to go to with a group of friends, as it is one of the Street’s freshmen-friendliest. However, as Charter is often one of the only options on Fridays, it can also get a little desperate: Ladies, if you are even conventionally attractive, someone will salivate directly into your cleavage. Go home.
Sign-in: Most of membership is filled by the swimmers and the crew teams. The club, which boasts the only hot tub on the Street, is moderately popular on weekends and has decent fare. But members don’t actively seek a larger crowd — the floaters and boaters are happy to have their own house.
Street’s Take: Cloister’s waterlogged prefer to be wet at all times, judging by the amount of beer thrown. They also have a deep desire to have their abdomens recognized, resulting in an atmosphere of general shirtlessness on most nights. Also heavy, serious Beirut. If you’re not already an expert, stick to the underclothed dance floor.
Cap & Gown:
Bicker: If you’re an athlete — or an athlete wanna-be — this may very well be your club. Boasting a recently remodeled taproom with an enlarged bar, Cap often draws healthy crowds. Food consists of a high proportion of fried fare.
Street’s Take: Cap wrested the title of most-bickered club from perennial favorite Tower two years ago. A great place to check out the athletes, especially track & field.
Bicker: Known in a bygone era as the “gentleman’s club,” the club still retains a conservative Southern feel, with a large portion of its membership composed of male jocks and sorority girls. It’s the only club that requires a guest list every night.
Street’s Take: Cottage is impossible to get into on most nights unless you’re a member, are dating a member, or spend enough time crying outside the door. Don’t try the crying thing. After three hours it gets tiresome and it takes at least four to get in.
Bicker: TI is Princeton’s answer to “Animal House”—rowdy and proud of it. Famous for its twice-a-year State Nights, TI is the closest you’ll ever get to pretending you go to a state school.
Street’s Take: With the highest per-capita alcohol and hot dog consumption and the most booting on the Street, TI is not for the faint of heart. Other than that, it’s a totally chill place to hang out. Don’t choke on the goldfish.
Sign-in: Colonial recently bounced back from the rumored brink of closure and is returning to full member classes. It is one of the most popular and open clubs for freshmen.
Street’s Take: Great random nights can be had at Colonial when you least expect it. The club recently made a move to claim Friday nights from Charter.
Bicker: The oldest of the clubs, Ivy has an elitist stereotype, though it’s much more down-to-earth than its outdated reputation would suggest. It’s the only club where dinners feature waiter service at candlelit tables.
Street’s Take: The eating club all your out-of-town friends want to go to — dark wood paneling, white tablecloths, antique chairs, secrecy, exclusivity, a crypt and the meanest bouncers you will ever encounter.
Sign-in: Recently experienced a decline in membership, which is maybe why it’s the only club that won’t release its membership statistics to the ‘Prince.’ Usually pretty welcoming to freshmen, and hosts the main band for Lawnparties because of its huge backyard.
Street’s Take: You may forget Quad exists unless you join or you’re in an organization that rents it out for parties.
Bicker: Featuring what is popularly accepted to be the best food on the Street, Tower is home to high numbers of Triangle Club members and Wilson School/politics majors. Freshman-friendly and easy to get into on weekends, it is consistently one of the most-bickered clubs on the Street.
Street’s Take: Tower is an activities club. You will be taken there by someone you meet in an organization. Members care a little too deeply about their extracurriculars. It’s like they’re still trying to get into college. That annoying kid from your precept? He’s definitely in Tower.
Bicker: Cannon reopened this past year for the class of 2014 after being closed for 34 years. Membership consists of large people like the football team and a smattering of random others. The labyrinthine basement houses not one, not two, but three taprooms.
Street’s Take: Wait ... this is a club now? Like most of the campus, Street doesn’t yet know how to react to Cannon’s new incarnation.
Sign-in: Known as the artsy club, Terrace is often considered the last bastion of uncompromising liberalism on campus. Weekend activities include all-night raves, poetry readings and the annual Pride Alliance Drag Ball. Hosts live bands any and all days of the week.
Street’s Take: Terrace is filled with hipsters, misfits, and artsy types who just want to chill. Just don’t call them hipsters or you’ll get a Lucky Strike put out on your arm. The club is a popular final stop on Thursday and Saturday nights.
Reopened: After several years of declining membership num- bers, the Campus graduate board opted to close the club’s doors in 2006 and transferred ownership of the building and grounds to the University. Campus functions as a “hang-out space” for students and faculty.
Street’s Take: This is not an eating club. It just looks like one.