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Episode 141: Columnist Clash: Perspectives on UMN’s social scene

Columnists Michael Fraley and Natalie Trimble join Kaylie Sirovy in the studio to review the quality of nightlife in the area.

KAYLIE SIROVY: Hi everybody, this is Kaylie Sirovy from the Minnesota Daily and you’re listening to In The Know, a podcast dedicated to the University of Minnesota. 

Today, in sort of a columnist clash style, with me in the studio are two opinion writers from the Minnesota Daily to discuss whether or not we have a good nightlife here on campus.  Thank you Natalie and Michael for joining me today. 

NATALIE TRIMBLE: Thank you. Hi. 

MICHAEL FRALEY: Thank you for having us. 

SIROVY: Let’s start with Natalie. What is your perspective on our nightlife here? 

TRIMBLE: Okay, so I have, in my opinion, just such a fun perspective on this. I personally am an advocate for the nightlife that the U provides for the students. I mean, obviously it’s not something that we discuss in classrooms and everything, but we have a great area to sort of play around, go check out nice bars, especially 21 plus.

And also just a great, like, I feel like the students here, whether you’re a freshman, a senior, anywhere in between, you can always find something that works for you. And I love that. I love there’s plenty of parties, house parties, like I said bars if you are of age, of course. 

As well as, I know there’s a lot of like music events and stuff that are put on through, cool different areas and regions of Minneapolis and St. Paul. So, I definitely think there’s a lot to look at and do. And I think that it’s a great, we have a great. space to do our thing outside of school and classes. 

SIROVY: And Michael, what do you think? 

FRALEY: So I would personally agree with some of that. I think you can have a lot of fun at apartment parties and house parties. But I think the biggest thing as someone who is above 21 is that our campus kind of sucks for anyone above that age in terms of nightlife because the only real place you can go is the Kollege Klub. And, you know, you can go to Sturbs and Sally’s, but that’s a 30 minute walk. And Sally’s especially is populated with a lot of high schoolers at this point.

And then, additionally, in Dinkytown as well, I mean, there’s Blarney’s and Bloco. But both, I mean, Blarney’s has had a lot of incidents lately, so has BloCo, and you know, the lines each night for those are about two miles long. So, and on top of that, they also tend to let in a lot of underage people. And so I think, I mean, there is the option to go downtown, but you have to Uber there, and then that’s kind of a pain as well.

So, I think overall it’s not the best for a 21 plus person. Again, I think you, you definitely can find things to do, but what it really to me boils down to at the end of the day is that our campus doesn’t really feel much like a college town. I think, at least compared to, I mean, just other Big Ten schools off the top of my head, like Madison and Indiana.

I mean, Bloomington, Indiana is quite the college town, and we just kind of feel like an extension of the city. So I don’t, it might not be the best way to describe this, but it’s almost like a certain vibe you get from a college town that I just don’t think we really have here. And I mean, more than that, I just don’t think there’s that many options for going out places at night that are realistic.

TRIMBLE: See, I think that’s sort of what makes our nightlife more enjoyable is that it isn’t just like a college town vibe. I know that Madison, while I’ve never been there, is very college town. I know a lot of people that have been there to visit people or who go to the school and well some college bars there are just.

You know, the place to be for them. I think what I like about our nightlife is that you do kind of get to escape from like college at night if you really want to. I’m a transfer student, so I think I have a different perspective on the nightlife here, and I think it’s really cool. 

SIROVY: Oh, where’d you transfer from? 

TRIMBLE: DePaul University in Chicago, which is very much like commuter school and it’s Chicago. So, obviously there’s a lot to do, but there’s a lot of expenses that come with doing that and so I get what you’re saying about having to like uber places. Get your steps in, that’s my advice. Get your steps in. I, personally, have the luxury of knowing people who don’t always drink when we go out.

So, I don’t have to pay for an Uber every time. Of course, like you do have to be wary of that, but if you’re expecting to go to a bar, then you’re expecting to spend money anyways. And specifically with KK, their entrance fee is a little bit upsetting. 

SIROVY: How much is it? 

TRIMBLE: It varies on the night. 

FRALEY: Some nights it gets up to like 30 bucks on special occasions. Normally it’s eight, but yeah. 

SIROVY: Yikes.

TRIMBLE: Five to eight. And then if you want to pay for like a fast pass to get through the line, it’s 20 or more sometimes.

SIROVY: There’s a fast pass?

TRIMBLE: Yeah, I’m calling it a fast pass. I don’t know if that’s what it’s called, but there is like a, oh, it’s line leap. That’s literally the app’s name that you get the tickets.

SIROVY: Oh my goodness. 

TRIMBLE: But yeah, you can do that if you’re uninterested in staying outside during cold seasons. I don’t personally do that. I am a strong warrior and I stay outside if it’s cold. However, like I said I feel like specifically if you’re not someone who’s 21 and able to get into a bar like like KK, Sal’s is known for just like being a fun environment for like new or younger students. Whether that be early happy hour, whatever they’re doing with their underage lives. That’s a great environment that really also lets you feel like you’re connecting with people from your college.

I personally don’t go to Sturb’s, but I’ve heard, you know, mixed reviews. But like I said, I think what’s nice is the campus is so sprawled out. It’s a huge campus. So, while those places may be inconvenient for some students who are maybe in the Dinkytown area or closer to Marcy Holmes or Como, there’s bars in each little neighborhood that students live in.

So I think that it’s great because like, unless you’re exclusively going to bars outside of your immediate area, you have other bars that you can enjoy. Like, my walk to KK or Bloco or Blarney’s, while I do not go to Blarney’s, that’s all within a five to ten minute radius for me. So I just think, and even, even if you’re not a bar fan, because not everyone is, and not everyone is willing to spend money every time they go out. And also not everyone is a fan of bar environments or going somewhere where you sort of are expected to drink. Well, you don’t have to, of course, like that’s sort of what a bar environment provides for people. 

Like I said, the house parties are really fun, especially for like younger students I feel. I mean, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve preferred bar environments, but that’s most of the time should be a free place for students to attend and get to know people. On top of that, frats, sororities, all of those things that make you feel like you’re in a college environment without necessarily being too much of a hassle. 

SIROVY: I feel like the big thing though, with sororities and frats is the safety aspect. Michael, you brought this up. You want to talk about more about this? How safe do you think that our nightlife is? 

FRALEY: So, couple things, in terms of frats, sororities, like those definitely are fun, but in my experience at least, just maybe a couple times as a freshman or sophomore, and then you kind of get to the point where it’s like, okay, well I’m 21, I’m not going to go to a frat party in mosh pit with, I mean, I could be wrong. I don’t want to speak for other people, but I don’t want to go to a frat party and mosh pit with 18 and 19 year olds.

So, it definitely is fun for a time, and of course there is the safety issue as well. Not only those, but you know, when you’re walking everywhere, I think the reality of our campus is it’s not the safest at all times. And yes, you have options like GopherTrip and some shuttle, the scooters even. There might be something else I’m forgetting. But, probably not a, scootering? Probably not a good idea when you’re drunk. 

SIROVY: I have seen people on the scooters though, like, having the time of their lives. 

FRALEY: I bet it’s fun while you’re doing it. 

TRIMBLE: I know of a person who was gently struck by a vehicle while drinking and on a scooter. Not me, it was not me. 

SIROVY: Did you witness this?

TRIMBLE: No, it was a roommate at the time. And luckily she is fine, but yeah, no, I get the scooter. The scooter thing isn’t the best when you’re intoxicated. Don’t recommend that.

FRALEY: Yeah, and  I just feel like those services are kind of unreliable. Like you gotta wait for the gopher shuttle to come around and then you’re walking, you know, maybe 20 minutes in the cold.

Not that that’s like, that big of a deal. It’s just a slight pain. But, you know, overall, I mean, you mentioned too that kind of the vibe that a place like Sally’s has. I agree that it, you know, for young people especially, there is like a happy hour, three to six there on a Saturday. It’s definitely fun.

But it’s, it’s kind of the only place you can go to get that. Right? Like, nobody else is, nobody’s going to Blarney’s happy hour three to six or Bloco happy hour three to six. You only get that at Sally’s and I just think, not that there’s anything, I would hope that we would have more places where you could get that kind of vibe, for lack of a better term. 

TRIMBLE: Well, I do agree that our campus specifically at night isn’t the safest. I think especially coming from a school that was also pretty large and in a big city. And obviously safety is always a concern for college students and specifically like feminine presenting people. I think there are ways to ensure the safest commute to these places, like maybe going in groups. 

Ubering if you need to, and if you have the ability to, or just staying nearby, staying where in an area where you’re comfortable and know a lot of people and know that things safety wise haven’t like come up frequently. Obviously like KK, Blarney’s, Bloco. All of those bars are in a relatively busy sort of chaotic part of the campus area. But I mean. 

SIROVY: How safe do you feel inside the club? 

Natalie: I’d say I feel depending like, Blarney’s not my favorite. I’ve heard some pretty freaky things that have happened there that I don’t, not only do I just not enjoy the energy that Blarney’s brings, but yeah, I’ve heard some like stories regarding safety there. But when I’m at specifically Kollege Klub. 

I have a great time and I’m not really concerned. Of course, I’m always on the lookout for my safety, but like, I’m not ever really concerned about something happening to me there. Also, the security at Kollege Klub is surprisingly very serious and like, yeah, they take their jobs very seriously and people get kicked out if they get too rowdy. It’s like very interesting because it is run by college students. 

SIROVY: How different is the security say at a more open bar like Sally’s versus like the KK?

TRIMBLE: I know that in, like, recently, at least since I’ve transferred to the U, when I first started coming here, Sal’s was really an easy place for everyone to get into. And as I’ve spent more time here, I’ve noticed that Sal’s has, their security is stricter with fake IDs and behavior in line and if people are causing too much of a commotion inside. I have seen like people get escorted out and before I didn’t see that. So, definitely there’s a difference between Kollege Klub and Sal’s, but like in my personal opinion, I obviously don’t have like stats on this. 

But like, I think that the safety overall in places have gotten pretty ramped up in comparison to how they were when I first came here. And I think that’s good. Obviously, safety, depending on who is providing it, like police don’t always make students feel the safest. Obviously depending on demographics and just whatever the case may be, but, I know that like security at Kollege Klub is literally my peers and it’s funny. 

But no, they do a good job.And I think that has to be considered. I think also just like knowing this the safety concerns bars like that have decided that they maybe need to be a little bit more strict or careful with the behaviors they’re allowing in those spaces and and things. 

SIROVY: Michael, do you feel the same way?

FRALEY: I do. I will say I know Sally’s has had a bunch of incidents at least over my time here in the past couple years. But and I think they are doing a better job at least, but Blarney’s, I know recently, I could be getting the details wrong on this, but like a month ago they had an incident where, I think it was like 3 or 4 girls got roofied, and they switched to 21 plus for a a little bit of time. I think a couple weeks.

But now they’re apparently back to letting underage people in. So I, you know, I think Sally’s is doing a better job from what I’ve heard. It doesn’t seem like Blarney’s really, it’s still kind of, it can be suspect there to say the least. Just, you know, in my experience being there. They kind of let anyone in there.

And sometimes you’ll see, you’ll go in there and you’ll see like 30 year old adults. And it’s tough because, you know, you can’t really just not let people in. But I think as a college student especially. I mean, if you’re 19 years old and you go into a place like that and there’s 30 year olds in there, it’s kind of like, what are we doing here? What are we doing? 

TRIMBLE: I hear that because obviously I don’t necessarily enjoy that. It feels rather like you’re just being scoped out or like watched by older people that know that this is where college people go to hang out and do things. Like there’s no way that they’re like, oblivious to the fact that when they go to this bar compared to maybe an age appropriate bar for 30 plus like, you know, you’re going to find a lot of like, the age group of people you’re looking for whatever it may be.

So yeah, no, I get that especially being like, identifying as a woman and a young woman, and not only just going out here, but like I dress up to have fun and like that’s a part of my going out thing is like my roommates, my friends and I, we love to get ready together. We love to, you know, like have wine or cocktails before going out and like you want to look good and feel good when you go out.

And so that can be definitely, unfortunately, a part of your safety concerns, but like I said, just that’s part of like, having self responsibility as well when you’re going out. Obviously, you’re not in control of everything safety wise that may come up and happen to you, but doing your best to make sure you go with people you trust, you meet up with people you like and know, and you’re just on the lookout, you know. Don’t take drinks from people that you may not know or feel like are giving you a bad vibe.

Like, just there’s things that you can do to avoid it because obviously if you’re a person that likes going out, that’s not necessarily going to stop you from going out. So like you, you go out with the awareness of the fact that, of course, bad things happen a lot and they could happen around you to you, to people you love and care about, but like you just have to do your part and making sure when you go out, it’s a good, safe time. But Blarney’s, yeah, no. I don’t attend there ever.

FRALEY: But to me, I mean, that’s kind of, that’s kind of inherently the problem. Like, I would say the same thing happens at Bloco, too. I mean, there were some people in there that you just, you wonder why they’re there. And I think that happens at Blarney’s and Bloco and then, you know, for a lot of people it’s like, okay, well those are the only options. 

And then, you know, maybe you don’t want to haul 30 minutes to Sally’s, right? And I will say where I totally agree is that I think KK is pretty safe. Like, I’ve never been in there and felt unsafe, so, but I mean, I know incidents happen at Blarney’s. I mean, sadly it’s not as much anymore, but, so I think there is kind of a problem there for people who just don’t really have, it’s just not a lot of options. 

SIROVY: You guys didn’t really talk about this, are drinks too expensive and does that act then as a deterrent to going out?

TRIMBLE: I think it depends. I feel like definitely going out is a price you have to be willing to pay depending on where you’re going. But I know like Sal’s because they know that a lot of the people that come there are students. They do host a lot of happy hours and, and like where things are incredibly cheap in comparison to if you go to like a liquor store to buy all your own alcohol beforehand or you go to a different bar that maybe. Like, I really like speakeasies now, like I’ve been getting into that now that I’m older. 

SIROVY: Yes, those are becoming more popular I’ve heard.

TRIMBLE: Speakeasies and like North loop has a lot of nice bars. Like I wouldn’t consider Basement Bar nice, but it’s something that I’ve noticed college students are exploring now. Um. And like Cuzzy’s is right next door, which I’ve never been to.

But like those bars don’t really cater as much to college students and the prices that they’re willing to pay. So you have to, I think you can find places that provide cost friendly, you know, experiences for you. Like, I don’t know. Como Tap is one we haven’t talked about yet, but if you’re in Como, like, that’s a really popular place.

SIROVY: I’ve heard a lot of people like Como Tap. Yep. 

TRIMBLE: Yes. I don’t know, really. I go there, but I don’t go there frequently, and I don’t really know when happy hours are things like that. But I know when I go there, it’s not like the most expensive place ever and obviously like you can save on commuting to these places. If you’re not in those areas by taking public transportation, especially if you have your U card with you, like you just, you know, that’s a really helpful tool that I use. 

Walking if it’s safe and not too far. The bus. While  Gopher Chauffeur can sometimes not be the most timely thing, like, it’s definitely a resource that’s made to help students get places for free and safely. So I don’t know. I think there’s ways that you can budget if going out is something that you want to do regularly or you know, there’s ways to make it work. Yeah. 

FRALEY: I would honestly agree for the most part. I mean, quality of the drinks now with a lot of these deals, especially at Sally’s is questionable sometimes, but I do, it does generally seem like a lot of these places, I know KK specifically, has a ton of different drink deals. 

Sally’s does as well. I think they all do a pretty decent job of catering. But again, the quality is kind of, at least in my experience, at somewhere like Bloco, it’s not the best. But, I would totally agree in terms of that there are places that don’t really cater to that college, I guess, pricing.

TRIMBLE: I think also in regards to like the quality, they’re college bars and they know they’re college bars. So they’re just not, you know, like people our age aren’t really going, unless you go to a speakeasy where I do expect that I’m paying more and that I’m paying for good quality stuff. I’m going to like Sal’s or KK or wherever it is I’m going, Como Tap, with the expectation that it’s just going to be something that I’m paying not as much for. 

So, I can expect that it’s going to be not as good of quality. And that’s what, I don’t know, I think that’s fine. And also in regards to like, other campuses. I think the U has a good, I think the nightlife here is really fun and I like the city experience that you get from it because it’s not exclusively college energy, if you know, obviously age is a factor, but like assuming that you’re of age. Yeah, like you can go for a bunch of different vibes if you feel, you know, like I said, speakeasy, North Loop, just having nice bars. 

Not necessarily always going to KK or wherever you may be going. Yeah, I like it. And in regards to other campuses and their nightlife, I think that if you’re in a college town and you’re there for all four years, like that could become rather repetitive, boring, difficult to feel like you’re meeting people who are of the same age as you. So I like this. I like it and I stand strongly in that.

FRALEY: I think that, well, that’s completely fair, and I will say, at the end of the day, I think what matters most is that you have people to join you in these experiences. And I think, you know, if you’re with the right friends, it doesn’t matter how crappy the bar is you’re at, you can still have fun, but I would say that that doesn’t mean that our nightlife couldn’t be better in a lot of ways. 

Which you know, I think, ultimately having more options would help improve that, but, you know, it is, it’s not, it’s not the worst, right?But, yeah, I think what matters most, honestly, is just having people to do these things with. 

TRIMBLE: I agree. 

SIROVY: Well, if you guys don’t have anything more, I think we can wrap it up. As always, we appreciate you listening in, and feel free to leave us an email at [email protected] with comments, questions, or concerns. I’m Kaylie. 

TRIMBLE: I’m Natalie. 

FRALEY: I’m Michael. 

SIROVY: And this is In The Know.

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