hursday nights in Berkeley, at least for me, have become a sacred night for ritual shenanigans. I don’t have class Friday, so for a very brief moment of time, when I am on the precipice of my weekend and Monday’s responsibilities are on the other side of the three-day chasm, I let loose. And I’m not the only one. I know, because in reflecting on the past three years of my tenure at Berkeley, all of my wildest observations of my peers are from Thursday nights. I’ve witnessed my fellow students pee under tables to avoid bathroom lines, dodge public intoxication charges by hopping into Ubers they didn’t order and drop some of the worst pick-up lines imaginable.
But the question remains: Why Thursday?
The notion of “Thursday being the new Friday” is nothing new. The New York Times published an article in 2005 that noted the trend in American colleges and tried to postulate some reasons for its occurrence. They offered the quantifiable explanation that many college campuses in the U.S. simply offer fewer classes on Friday than on other weekdays, enabling students and faculty to take the three-day weekend when they can. And the same standard holds true at UC Berkeley: Of the 6,888 classes offered for the fall 2018 semester, only 908 are classes that include a lecture or section on Friday. So the numbers are on our side.
Unsurprisingly, these numbers match up with patron data pulled from some of the most frequented bars and hangouts off campus. In a brief conversation I had with the manager at Triple Rock Brewing, Connor Kearns, he explained that Triple Rock orders somewhere from 550-600 Monkey Heads (the bar’s signature beer) every Thursday. The drink is available all day, but Kearns said sales of the Arboreal Ale don’t usually pick up “until the college kids come around” between 6:30 and 7:00 and are sold out somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00. In other words, the bar is so popular with students that it sells out of its signature beer in around three hours — every week. Kearns thinks it’s because the brew is simply “a good deal.”
“A good deal” is definitely underselling it. Currently, the going rate of Monkey Heads is $10 apiece for 25.6 ounces of 8.5 percent alcoholic beer. If you break down the math behind that rate, it “shakes out to about 4 shots of alcohol for 10 dollars,” Kearns explained. That, unlike Math 54, is math UC Berkeley students can get behind.
Of the 6,888 classes offered for the fall 2018 semester, only 908 are classes that include a lecture or section on Friday. So the numbers are on our side.
But Triple Rock isn’t the only Berkeley bar with Thursday deals. The Starry Plough offers a coverless “Funk Night” every Thursday, creating a space for trendy students and their trendier GSIs to get down to some live music. And just down the street from Triple Rock is Spats, which runs all-day happy hour deals every Thursday.
While all of the data above certainly illustrates the raucous social scene surrounding this weeknight, it doesn’t quite seem to explain the manic energy that Thursday nights bring. Now, of course, it could be easy enough to explain away this mania with one word — alcohol — but I don’t think it’s so simple. And according to the managers and staff at local bars, the Thursday energy doesn’t go unnoticed.
“We definitely expect a different type of attitude from the guests (Thursdays),” said Craig McClain, manager of Spats. He says the bar anticipates this Thursday attitude from students by staffing the bar with extra security and making sure that “90 percent” of its staff is working Thursdays. And for good reason — McClain told me a member of his security team once had to chase a patron down the street who’d climbed up the bar and stolen a Guinness poster.
Kearns concurs that the Thursday night crowd is noticeably more rambunctious than the rest of the week — he shared an anecdote about being punched in the face after asking a party of patrons to leave because a member of the group had slapped a server on the rear. The group was thrown out.
He explained that the staff at Triple Rock has to maintain a level “of preparedness” necessary to deal with students. And while both managers agreed the bars are generally more tolerant of rowdy raillery on Thursdays, they both have certain strict expectations for patron behavior.
Thursdays in Berkeley represent something that is hard to pin down at Cal: a real commonality between students.
But stories like these also provide an interesting contradiction to the image of the quiet, collected UC Berkeley student seen moving between classes on campus. Thursdays in Berkeley represent something that is hard to pin down at Cal: a real commonality between students. A weird reminder that whether we’re a brogrammer who runs half-marathons when they’re not streaming on Twitch or a humanities major who rolls their own cigarettes and is quietly a wizard on Excel, we’re all still a bunch of stressed-out kids looking to unwind.
Of course the bars described above are not everyone’s favorite destination. Senior Ashley Pattison-Scott said she prefers to go to Downtown Oakland on Thursdays because she would rather “just not be at school.” And still others can be found spending their Thursdays playing Settlers of Catan, going to shows in the Bay Area or grabbing boba.
So wherever you spend your Thursday, I think it’s a nice reminder to know that sometimes — even in an environment as academically rigorous as UC Berkeley — we all cut a little loose. We take back one night to reclaim some of the time we spend facedown in laptops hacking away or pillaging through archives for the perfect text to support a thesis. One night to unload all the stress of the past week and reset to prep for the stress of the next. Whatever the exact reason is and however you choose to spend them, I think Thursday nights are a fundamental part of what makes us UC Berkeley students. To me, Thursdays are a raucous reminder that we are a group of students who work very hard, but we also know how to play hard, too.