Cornell’s Rapidly Evolving Late-Night Scene

8 08 2011

This entry was inspired by the latest set of news, that Johnny O’s is closed. This follows the news that Dino’s closed earlier this summer, reducing the number of bars and primary drinking establishments to four. While it seems there’s enough interest in the property that a desolate Ctown won’t be an issue, the article raised a very good point about late-night activities that I think bears a little bit of thought:

For many Cornell students and alumni, the closure of another bar in Collegetown prompted concerns about late-night life at Cornell.

“What is happening to the bar scene in Collegetown?” said Cara Sprunk ’10, a former Sun writer.

Lee Moskowitz ‘13 said that Dino’s and Johnny O’s “probably held about 300 people each, so now you’ve got 600 people going to about four bars, instead of six, and those bars were already crowded to begin with.”


Lee Moskowitz has a very valid argument. Fewer bars would seem like a good thing on the surface (less noise and rowdiness), except that that isn’t going to deter the large percentage of older students who want to party it up in the evening. I can vouch from my own experience that even when there were six bars, it was not uncommon to wait in line outside to get in, because the bars were absolutely packed. Less bars means longer lines, and eventually people are going to give up and just do more house parties to compensate (especially considering the tighter restriction on the Greek system’s parties). I firmly believe that it’s a naive notion that student drinking would somehow decrease.

While there’s no problem with house parties per se, the issue lies with the fact that while bars and Greek houses have formal regulations that they’re expected to follow, house parties don’t. If the hosts and servers aren’t careful, that can go a couple of unfortunate ways – an IPD free-for-all for citations and fines, and/or a greater risk to partygoers.

With any hope, Cornell’s new pub in the Ivy Room will open as scheduled in the fall. But elsewise, late-night life at Cornell seems to be heading in a less regulated direction, and is going to be a much bigger issue.



One response

9 08 2011
alex brooks hotel '67, 1st Rongovian Ambassador to the USA

Having a really good bar with food and occasional entertainment on campus would set a standard for non-Greek partying. Get the Hotel School to run it and elect Boards of Directors from all Colleges students every 2 years. Perhaps hospitality-minded and other live-wire alumni could put together some seed money to assess Cornell Commuity involvement and acceptance.
If you build it right, they will come!

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