Bartenders on Unofficial serve up holiday spirits, counseling


By Christen McGlynn

The sea of green begins to overwhelm me as I see herds of bodies rushing toward my fellow bartenders and I, all demanding the same request: more alcohol. As if drinking all morning until 8 p.m. is not enough, students at the University are ready to rally until the bars close at 2 a.m. All in the name of Unofficial.

Managers have prepared the bartenders and staff for this long anticipated “holiday” in order to ensure the safety of all students. Employees can only serve one drink per customer, no one overly intoxicated is allowed to enter the bar, and the bar age limit is raised to 21. The non-University natives are easy to spot with their uncertainty regarding bar etiquette and questionable drink orders, such as: “Can I get a one of those Blue Boys, or Blue Dudes or Blue Men?” No sir, it is a Blue Guy, and by the sixth order I thought we have established this recognition.

Although it feels as if these out-of-towners are overtaking the bar, I still see the regulars posted up in their usual spots. The one blond guy who always stands on the right that seems to know every bartender, makes friends with every person around him and smiles when I finally take his order — you are a great tipper, never change. Then, there is the older, slightly creepy man who seems extremely out of his element and over the age limit of a college bar, sitting in the back corner. His lack of green attire makes him stand out more than usual. Nevertheless, the bar is practically packed to capacity, and with everyone screaming for my assistance, it’s very difficult to catch a break.

Mary Miles, junior in AHS, worked the happy hour shift and felt the same type of stress as well. 

“Everyone just wants to be waited on at the same time, and I obviously can’t be everywhere at once,” Miles said, “and alcohol definitely doesn’t help with their patience.”

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    Jensen Rafool, bartender and junior in LAS, was able to experience Unofficial participants’ transition from overly eager to ultimately wasted. She described the scene in one word: sloppy. 

    “I started working at 10 a.m. when everyone was just starting out and excited to get the day going,” Rafool said. 

    However, by the time noon rolled around, she said people were starting to hit a wall where they needed a mid-afternoon nap to recharge. 

    “The dance floor had some hardcore old school dance moves going on, and watching it sober definitely made it more interesting,” she said. 

    That’s the one thing about working as a bartender: you are able to get a point of view that most people wish they could forget. Those nights you can’t remember what happened, and a blurry picture uploaded to Facebook is the only clue to a night out — I can guarantee there is a bartender who witnessed every single one of your erotic dance moves and failed attempt at flirting.  

    Unofficial brings out the drinking culture here at the University where students play dual roles while letting their green pride shine through. Yet one might not realize that bartenders play two roles on this eventful night as well: the server and the psychiatrist. 

    Guy in the striped shirt wants a Red Bull vodka and his girlfriend just cheated on him with his best friend because she’s wasted. I begin to pour the vodka with my right hand as he holds my left to ensure him that everything will be okay, and that no one can wear stripes better than him, right? I reply by saying any girl would be a fool to go for a guy in a plain shirt — by the look of relief on his face, I could practically have Dr. Phil status.

    From a bartender’s viewpoint, Unofficial brings people together, and green should be the new color of love. At every corner of the bar, the most unlikely of characters began to take interest in one another. That girl with the long brown hair who wanted absolutely nothing to do with the awkward guy in the large leprechaun hat is now buying him shots and asking him about his life goals. When he replies he wants to be a stay-at-home-dad, she saw hearts of green, and they promptly left the bar together.

    Green, booze, love and awkward dance moves seems to be the combination for a successful Unofficial night as a bartender. Not to mention the increase in tips. Therefore, for any Illini looking to piece together their night, I am sure your Unofficial psychiatrist will be able to puzzle together some clues while looking forward to next year’s session.

    Christen is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected].