By Ian Macks
“You gotta play a song we know…like ‘Wagon Wheel.’”
This was a song request I received from a fellow classmate who threw a house party on Labor Day weekend for SUNY-ESF students that I DJ’d. While usually I don’t argue with song requests, I had two major reasons why I would not play it. Besides not having the song in my collection, the more personal reason was the fact that it just did not fit into the setting this ESF party was trying to portray. With a Facebook event page titled “Sunday Funday Banger,” a song like Wagon Wheel would not only change the mood, but it also alienated people at the party who didn’t go to ESF. While our student body reveres the tradition and pride of ESF students, it’s sometimes to the detriment to our social nightlife. It’s the reason Playboy Magazine rated us the worst overall party school in the country.
The ideal party for ESF is not a “party,” it is a large gathering of classmates who just want to have fun, share stories, and soak in the good times on the weekend. Now, before I’m accused of ruining my school’s social reputation, let me give a detailed reason why. Last year, I was part of a 280-member freshman class, all living under one roof, for the first time in the history of the school. While this did increase our chances of becoming a strong community, this also meant that everyone could and usually did know each other’s business — good and bad. Crazy parties can lead to crazy mistakes, physically, and, y’know, physically. While at a significantly bigger school like Syracuse University these incidents could go relatively unknown to the student body, at ESF everyone would know about such an incident within a day. With a school that has class sizes smaller than most public high schools, throwing bangers with the intent of causing blackouts and bad decisions is the worst thing to do.
With that said, ESF is not socially incapable of having a good time, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves and try to create an SU party because we simply can’t handle it logistically. We keep it simple: 150 ESF students, tops, with some cheap alcohol and Mumford & Sons or Trampled by Turtles Pandora Radio at mid-volume. Let the good times roll. This prevents overcrowding, binge drinking, hookup drama, and fights. It may not be the banger blasting trap with the dance floor about to collapse, but that’s not us. We’re meant to play drinking games that involve hammers and nails, and we’re meant to socialize, dress in whatever the hell is clean, and sing along to “Wagon Wheel” so the whole city can hear. Although that’s not my cup of tea, I can find plenty of SU parties where I can be in a humongous dancing crowd of belligerent kids dancing to trap and other forms of EDM. An ESF student has both these options at his or her disposal on weekends, something most other schools do not have, and something I felt Playboy overlooked in its dubious ranking.
So yes, while most of ESF was upset with the title of “Worst Overall Party School,” it will be our response that will change the outcome next time around. Instead of ridiculing that freshman who said, “the graveyard has a higher party rating than ESF” in The Daily Orange, talk to her and invite her to a small house party that isn’t so intimidating. Rather than becoming defensive about our looks, why don’t we show that we can wear whatever we want to our parties, that we don’t need makeup and high heels or polo shirts and skinny jeans to have a good time. Keep our parties small and invite only ESF students and show that we can get down to folk music and “circle the wagons” harder than any of the colleges ranked above us on that list. And finally, when we feel ready to take that next step and throw that big party everyone in Syracuse will remember, leave your pride at the door, open your mind to different music genres, leave whatever happens that night unsaid, and not give a flying fuck what anyone thinks about us. We may not be the biggest or richest school, but we are one of the most unique colleges that exists in this nation, and it’s about time we started partying like it.