Prefrosh Preview: Drinking and buying alcohol in Georgetown

Editor’s note: This post is intended to provide a realistic and helpful picture of the undergraduate drinking culture at Georgetown. The information in this post is generally common knowledge and does not come from Vox‘s personal experience. Vox does not endorse breaking any laws.

Georgetown’s party scene has entered a sad era with an uncertain future. Gone are the days of exciting, off-campus parties in West Georgetown’s famous townhouses. Thanks to the 2010 Campus Plan, Georgetown University has steadily shifted the party scene back onto campus.

That’s not to say that it’s all bad, however. There are plenty of places where drinking and throwing parties is quite easy, and Georgetown’s drinking culture has more than enough life and participants to make going out worthwhile.

Drinking as a freshman

As anyone at a big state school or a college with a vibrant fraternity scene could tell you, the way Georgetown parties is pretty tame. Although something is going on on every night between Thursday and Saturday, in general, most Georgetown students, especially freshmen, can go out only one or two nights a week, at the most.

Towards the middle of the semester, when the never ending stream of “midterms” begins, Georgetown’s party scene slows down dramatically, and the average student who cares about their grades is about as likely to be studying on a weekend night as they are to be getting wasted. The first month of school, however, before all the tests begin and while the weather’s still nice, has the potential to be insane.

Space is the biggest constraint on Georgetown parties. Most parties take place inside small apartment living rooms in places like Henle, Village A, and Village B, with slightly bigger parties in University-owned townhouses or the relatively upscale Nevils. Because space is so tight, Georgetown’s party hosts usually don’t like when random people try to come into their parties and drink their precious alcohol, something first semester freshmen are infamous for.

Unfortunately, most freshmen don’t have enough connections to reliably get legitimate invites to parties, so they try to find some place to go or go somewhere they heard about by word of mouth.

To that end, do not try to bring more than four other people to a party. Do not bring along an entire freshmen floor, because they’re not all going to get in and it just bothers the hosts. Something hosts love is when guests bring cups, mixers, or (shocker) more alcohol. For whatever reason, Georgetown parties almost never charge a cover fee and the host is expected to provide all of the alcohol for everyone who goes. There’s very little party guest courtesy in that sense, so those who do bring extra party materials, even if it’s a sleeve of red cups, are greatly appreciated.

Also, it’s helpful to keep in mind that many of the all-guys groups, especially the fraternities and sports teams, have a tendency to allow no freshmen guys into their parties.

The most reliable way to get legitimately invited to parties freshman year is to join a club that throws parties. At Georgetown, most extracurricular clubs have a pseudo-fraternity side to them, and every group from Hoya Snaxa to the International Relations Club throws a couple parties a month. Joining and getting involved in at least one group early on is a great way to get to know upperclassmen.

Buying alcohol in Georgetown

Unfortunately for anyone who enjoys the finer spirits, Georgetown parties serve almost exclusively terrible, terrible, plastic-bottle vodka and bad beer. That’s because that stuff is dirt cheap. There are three major liquor stores to buy said terrible alcohol in Georgetown: Dixie, Towne, and Wagner’s.

Dixie and Towne are good liquor stores but are much harder on fake IDs than Wagner’s. Vox‘s friend once saw the guy in Wagner’s sell to high schoolers without even carding them.

Aside from those three places, people who want to buy beer or wine usually go to Wisey’s or Safeway. Neither place turns away fake IDs.

The bars in Georgetown are a different story. In general, most bars are strict about the amount of fake IDs they let in and, unfortunately for gender equality, are much more likely to let in a group of underage people if they are dressed-up girls than if they are guys.

Aside from Tombs, which is perennially impossible to get into unless you’re 21, how hard a bar is to get into can change from year to year. The bar Thirds, for example, used to take shoe strings as ID until a couple years ago, when police fines made them become tough on IDs. Thirds is gone and is now the Mexican place El Centro.

Alcohol safety

The Center for Disease Control defines “binge drinking” as the consumption of five or more drinks, for men, or four or more drinks, for women, in about two hours. Based on that definition, virtually every instance of underage drinking in Georgetown would qualify as dangerous “binge drinking.”

Advising undergraduates to avoid “binge drinking” or to limit their alcohol consumption to one or fewer drinks per hour is just unrealistic. The most helpful, realistic rule to follow that will keep your head out of the toilet is to pick a personal drink limit for the night before the night starts and do your best to remember how many drinks you’ve had and stay under the limit.

Also, it’s probably worthwhile to keep the GERMS number in your phone in case of emergencies. GERMS can respond to a variety of medical emergencies but, when it comes to a question of alcohol poisoning, GERMS should be called when someone cannot hold their own head up or cannot answer a question like where they are or what year they were born. GERMS can be reached at 202-687-4357.

Other than that, Vox would advise any freshmen going out to stay with at least one other friend the whole time and to remember to respect other people and their stuff. Just because you’re drunk doesn’t mean you’re Superman.

Photo: dren88 via Flickr

7 Comments on “Prefrosh Preview: Drinking and buying alcohol in Georgetown

  1. Why is Vox discouraging people from calling GERMS? With the addition of medical amnesty to the student code of conduct, there is definitely no reason for anyone to hesitate to get medical attention if they feel it’s necessary. Discouraging people from calling GERMS when they have a legitimate medical reason to do so (which can be well before a person has “passed out and cannot be woken up”) is irresponsible.

  2. If someone can’t hold their head up or tell you where they are, you should call EMS. In more marginal cases, take the person home and keep them up drinking water until they sober up a bit, and then lay them such that they can’t turn onto their back and potentially choke.

    Beyond the Student Code of Conduct, D.C. law also provides strong protections for being a good Samaritan. MPD will overlook illegal drug possession and serving alcohol to minors in cases where someone has called EMS on behalf of a person that is overdosing. Especially for heroin overdose, a few minutes can be the difference between getting life-saving narcan and turning into a vegetable.

  3. Worth noting: the aforementioned Thirds doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s El Centro, a classy Mexican place.

  4. “That means there’s definitely no good reason to call GERMS unless someone is unresponsive; i.e. they are passed out and cannot be woken up.”

    Are you serious? So if someone is blacked out, stumbles down a flight of stairs, hits their head and draws blood, but gets back up, they shouldn’t call GERMS because they aren’t unresponsive yet? This is absolutely terrible advice. GERMS is there to help students with any medical issue, no matter how minor. I have no idea how they let you publish this.

  5. @Seriously? @More to the Point @Confused

    Thank you for clarifying the point at which it is medically advisable for someone to contact EMS for help in the case of alcohol poisoning. Vox was under the impression that someone did not require EMS unless that person was unresponsive. The post has been updated to reflect the fact that a person who cannot hold their own head up or answer a basic question such as where they are or what year it is should have GERMS or another EMS called for them. Obviously, in the example that Confused brought up in which a person has split their head open and is bleeding but is still conscious, GERMS could be called to address their head injury. Vox’s advice applied strictly to alcohol poisoning. Vox was discouraging people from calling GERMS only in instances where someone was NOT dangerously intoxicated, if intoxication is, indeed, the primary concern with the student in question. Vox knows of many instances where students who do not understand when GERMS needs to get involved call GERMS and subject someone to having to deal with EMS/police and possibly hundreds of dollars of hospital fees, if they are brought to the hospital. That should be avoided if someone is not dangerously intoxicated. Once again, thank you for clarifying the point at which someone IS dangerously intoxicated and when GERMS should be called to help someone who is in danger. The post now reflects that standard of medical judgment.


    For the record, when you say “I have no idea how they let you publish this,” I just want to point out that most of summer Vox is written, edited, and published by yours truly. I didn’t realize that not being able to hold your head up or answer a question like where are you are sufficient grounds to call GERMS on someone who’s intoxicated.


    The post has been updated to reflect the fact that Thirds is gone. Thanks for pointing that out.

  6. “Vox knows of many instances where students who do not understand when GERMS needs to get involved call GERMS and subject someone to having to deal with EMS/police and possibly hundreds of dollars of hospital fees, if they are brought to the hospital.”

    The EMTs of GERMS are very professional, in constant consultation with M.D.s, and won’t transport a person to the hospital who is not in need of medical care. If you are taken to the hospital by GERMS, you need medical care beyond what GERMS can provide and those hundreds of dollars of hospital fees are well worth possibly saving your life.

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