A successful bar crawl requires coordination before intoxication

By Kate Kostal

Anyone who has ever waited in line at a Campustown bar only to see throngs of people wearing identical shirts ushered in before them has seen a bar crawl. Anyone who has ever gotten together with a group who share a common interest and gone to multiple bars in one night has participated in the ever-so-popular bar crawl craze.

A bar crawl is an event students set up as a group. Different clubs, classes, Greek houses and groups of friends have been spotted sporting matching T-shirts with clever designs on them at local bars, but according to some students, a bar crawl is more than just the fun and games of the final night.

“First, you have to set a date for the bar crawl,” said Sarah Boghosian, junior in business. Boghosian is one of the organizers of the Marching Illini Bar crawl for this year. In its third year, the crawl will involve more than 150 people.

“Since I am setting up a bar crawl for 150-plus people, it is virtually impossible to make everyone happy,” Boghosian said. “Not everyone is going to like the bar selection or the idea for the shirt selection. Also, it is a bad idea to ask everyone’s input because then people are going to get mad that their ideas aren’t used.”

“It was just fun to hang out with friends and watch some people get hilariously trashed,” said Mike Martin, junior in engineering. Martin participated in the Marching Illini Bar crawl this past year.

Keeping the peace among the participants is one concern organizers have. Actually communicating with the bars beforehand is another.

Boghosian said that after finalizing a date, the organizers of a crawl have to determine which bars they will attend – and in what order – because some bars will be stricter than others about checking IDs after certain hours.

They then have to contact all the bars on the crawl and choose a final bar in which to end the night. A side room or basement room often has to be rented out to accommodate a larger group. Some smaller groups may enjoy the exclusivity and privacy a rented room can offer.

After all these details are finalized, the organizers design a shirt and collect money from the other people going on the crawl. Once the money is in, the shirt can be designed and ordered.

The most recognizable aspect of a bar crawl is the matching T-shirts. Some groups go the inexpensive route and buy white shirts. At each bar, people scribble things on the shirts. Others actually design shirts with clever phrases on them.

“On the front of the shirt it said ‘Got batteries?'” Boghosian said. “It was a bunch of girls that decided to go on a bar crawl. They wanted to imply that their shirts were about vibrators.”

Maggie Allen, sophomore in LAS, has participated in crawls for sororities located on Lincoln Avenue, her sorority’s (Kappa Kappa Gamma) pledge class, and the times when they have partnered up with a fraternity.

“I really liked the shirts we had for our ’07 bar crawl, just because I liked the quote on the back. It was ‘Oh, you hate school? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYONE, and they meet at the bars,’ by Drew Carey,” Allen said of her favorite bar crawl shirt.

While being a participant on a crawl may seem like nothing but fun, actually setting up the event can be complicated. Boghosian said to make things go smoothly, organizers should be honest with their group and following through on shirt payments along with any promises they may have made.

“It’s fun to change up the scenery and not stay in one place the whole night, and you get a chance to go to some bars that you might not normally go to,” Allen said, “They were all pretty much the same in that people got really wasted at the first few bars and usually didn’t make it to more than three.”

The bars also have certain protocol to follow when approached about a group coming in on a crawl.

At Joe’s Brewery, 706 S. Fifth St. in Champaign, a larger crawl requires more advance notice.

“We usually let them cut the line and come in without cover,” said Tim Hastings, general manager of Joe’s Brewery. Though most bar crawl participants are ushered in, ID checks are still made as they enter the bar.

“We just sell them one of the kegs we have … we make sure the person buying is 21 and the people enjoying it are 21,” Hastings said.

The last step in the bar-crawling process is perhaps the one most participants look forward to.

“Finally, you just have to go on the bar crawl and have a good time,” Boghosian said.