culture / February 2018 / Jessica Schultz

The Humble Basement Party

Written by Jessica Schultz

Last weekend, I saw a guy cut a line of coke with his Juul and snort it off his iPhone. I almost missed it, because there was a music video from that Dr. Phil girl playing on the television—we are truly living in 2018, folks. And as I enter the last six months before I finally (finally, finally) turn 21, I decided to take a look back at basement partying and all the good, bad, and evil that came with it.

Whether you’re a first year, sophomore, or a nearly-21 year old like me, you need somewhere to consume liquor that isn’t your dorm room, because that’s depressing. So you invariably turn to your friend of a friend of a classmate who’s group project member is throwing down on Friday. Typically, sophomores host because they’re living on their own for the first time ever and they don’t realize what absolute animals drunk, Vitamin D-deprived students are. The basement party, I dare say, is something special to Burlington.

Due to the lack of affordable campus housing for students, many move off campus into some seriously vintage shitholes that still somehow cost $850 per person a month. Imagine a gorgeous house built in 1910 with beautiful sweeping staircases, hidden nooks and crannies, woodwork on the doorways, and the scariest fucking basement you’ve ever seen with only one exit and a bunch of lit cigarettes being waved around the pile of winter coats in the corner.

How quaint, right?

When there’s over a hundred people in a house that has one exit, you realize that if it catches on fire you’ll all die together. So why not make some friends while you’re there? It’s a no-holds-barred way to introduce yourself to the person you’ve Instagram-stalked all year. You really have nothing to lose, and if it’s bad, they’ll forget. Girls you’ve eaten lunch with once tell you how much they like your earrings. I got vaped at by a dude from my Marketing class as like, a weird mating call—it smelled like blueberries, in case you were curious. I smashed a girl’s hand in a door and proceeded to sit next to her in Core two days later like nothing ever happened. I’ve slapped most of my friends in the face for shits and giggles (I’m really good at that, in case you’re wondering) and gotten my hair braided by a friend as people swirled around us.

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When a horrifying amount of students are smashed together in a single house, a lot can go wrong. There’s bathroom lines, odds-are games have gone to hell, and the usual belligerent drunks will literally die if you don’t let them smash glass bottles against the wall. You’re also in somebody’s home, which means somebody has to clean up all the vomit, beer, glass, and whatever else is left behind by you animals. Last year someone’s sink got ripped off the wall. Even I still don’t understand that one.

There comes beautiful ephemeral moment where everyone is sweaty, wasted, and (more or less) trapped. There is great freedom in being just another face in the sea of people. People can fall in love from across the inferno that is a soundproofed Burlington basement. Everyone’s in that sort of middle ground between high school sleepovers and barhopping with coworkers, and they’re using that time to shotgun PBRs like there’s no tomorrow.

Watching from the stairs, you wonder if you’ll get involved in something that’s truly once-in-a-lifetime. I wonder, as I shove through the crowd, what brought half the student body to a place so grody just to drink. But mostly, I wonder who’s getting trampled first when the cops come knocking. 

“I felt for the tormented whirlwinds
Damned for their carnal sins
Committed when they let their passions rule their reason.” -Dante, Inferno

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