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 hordes of upperclassmen 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.
Bicker:Cannon reopened two years ago after being closed for 34 years. Membership consists of large people like the football team and a growing assortment of others. The labyrinthine basement houses not one, not two, but three taprooms.
Street’s Take:Cannon’s explosion onto the eating club scene has added some variety, rowdiness and great food to the Street. Whether it’s the grind wall, foam parties or smoothies, Cannon can draw in large crowds — especially after big games — for even bigger parties. Some of the clubs can be tricky to recognize on your first foray to the Street, but this is not the case with Cannon Club. It’s the one with the huge-ass cannon in the front.
2. Cap & Gown
Bicker:If you’re an athlete — or an athlete wannabe — this may very well be your club. Boasting a recently remodeled taproom with an enlarged bar, Cap often draws healthy crowds.
Street’s Take:Cap wrested the title of most-bickered club from perennial favorite Tower last year. Although the dance floor isn’t the most happening on the Street, drinking games abound, and comfy couches offer a nice break. A great place to check out the athletes, especially track and field, who are, after all, the only ones who can make the trek all the way down the Street to Cap.
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. 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 freshman-friendliest. However, as Charter is often one of the only options on Fridays, it can also get a little desperate (ladies, someone will find a way to salivate directly into your cleavage). Make good choices. Go home (or to Colonial).
Sign-in:Most of Cloister’s membership funnels from the swim, dive and crew teams. The club is moderately popular on weekends, but members don’t actively seek a larger crowd — the floaters and boaters generally hang together.
Street’s Take:Cloister’s waterlogged members 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.
Sign-in:Although Colonial’s antebellum architecture might appear to be a remnant from Sherman’s March to the Sea, the club boasts an exceedingly diverse membership. Popular stereotypes hold that the club is most popular among Princeton’s Asians, but recently good food, good beer and crowd-pleasing Friday night themes have drawn healthy, varied crowds. Colonial is one of the most popular and accessible clubs for freshmen.
Street’s Take:Great random nights can be had at Colonial when you least expect it. Recently the club has made moves to reclaim Friday nights from Charter.
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 uses 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:The oldest of the clubs, Ivy has an elitist stereotype, though it’s much more down-to-earth than its outdated reputation would suggest. This is evidenced, of course, by Ivy’s candlelit dinners featuring waiter service.
Street’s Take:Ivy Club is like “Gossip Girl,” except with fewer headbands. It’s 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. 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.
9. Tiger Inn
Bicker:TI is Princeton’s answer to “Animal House” — rowdy and proud to be. Famous for its twice-a-year State Nights, TI is like a magical portal to the state school social scene of every Ivy Leaguer’s dreams.
Street’s Take:With the highest per-capita alcohol and hot dog consumption, as well as 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.
Bicker:Featuring some of the best food on the Street, Tower is home to many 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.
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.
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 music 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:In 2006, after several years of declining membership, the Campus graduate board opted to close the club’s doors and transferred ownership to the University. Campus now functions as a “hang-out space” for students and faculty.
Street’s Take:This is not an eating club. It just looks like one.