In a vibrant city like Montreal, McGill students are constantly urged to get out of the campus “bubble.” There is even a student club called – surprise! – Outside the Bubble, whose sole purpose lies in integrating anti-social McGill students into the greater Montreal culture. Nevertheless, many eager McGillians venture out at night only to find themselves at local bars surrounded by-you guessed it-their fellow classmates. Every night, local bars such as Vol de Nuit, Bar des Pins and Lodge serve as watering holes for McGill undergrads who seek to get the most of their city experience without wandering too far from campus.
During Frosh, McGill’s premiere drinking extravaganza, these bars experience a higher-than-average flow of insanely drunk students enjoying their back-to-school (and back-to-alcohol) freedom. Yet while froshies-and their older binge-drinking role models-are out having an alcoholic fiesta, do they ever stop to think about the impression they make on local Montrealers?
According to James, the manager of Vol de Nuit on the busy corner of St-Laurent and Prince Arthur, Frosh is the bartenders’ most dreaded event of the year. “We hate Frosh,” said James, stressfully preparing for another night of McGill-fueled drinking. “We don’t like accepting anyone with a bracelet.” James, who refused to provide his last name, added that St-Laurent is the most vandalized street in Montreal, especially during Frosh week. “McGill students break everything.” Perhaps the university student organizations make a profit from frosh week, but, as James bitterly suggested, they may be the only ones.
Evan Eichler, a bartender at Lodge, another hotspot on Prince Arthur and St-Laurent, also denounced the rowdy atmosphere of Frosh week. Like Vol de Nuit, Lodge (despite its trendy hunting cabin atmosphere) mainly caters to McGill students. “You could see them [the Froshies] get drunker a lot faster than other customers,” Eichler said. Yet while Froshies get drunk easily, their alcohol tolerance and alcohol consumption level do not exactly correlate. Eichler claimed that because the Froshies are “already pretty sloppy when they get here, they don’t drink too much at the bar. Not only do they purchase less alcohol, but they are also typically pretty bad tippers.”
Bar des Pins, better known to those that frequent it as BDP, is another popular bar inside the McGill bubble. With its bright orange tabletops and generally seedy surroundings, who wouldn’t want to stumble through BDP during the drinking rampage that occupies the first week back at school? Sami, who also wouldn’t give a last name, only had positive things to say about Frosh at his bar. He loves all of the fresh faces Frosh brings into this city and insists that “it’s good to meet some new people. Sometimes you meet people from far away.” Sami’s only complaint was that the Froshie’s drink selection was rather limited, as their requests generally remained in the beer department. Perhaps if the Froshies ordered Manhattans and Appletinis, the staff at Vol de Nuit and Lodge would be more accomodating.