For a visiting high school student, recent young graduate or even a wide eyed freshman, 21 can feel a million miles away. However, in one of their four years college, most students will enter the world of “real adulthood” (18 doesn’t seem to count anymore) when all Friday night options are open–including walking downtown, presenting your drivers license, and being allowed to enter a new world of grown up fun!
However, for the average Lawrentian, a 21st birthday opens a very specific door. That door can be found in the basement of Memorial Hall, where the “Viking Room,” Lawrence’s own on-campus bar, stands proudly. While it does offer a nearby place to grab a drink with one’s colleagues, one does not need to enjoy an adult beverage (fountain soda is free!) to delight in this one-of-a-kind place. Even though Lawrentians usually have to wait until their junior year to experience them, evenings there are essential to Lawrence student life. So please enjoy this slightly-romanticized description of the “VR.”Celebrating my 21st at the VR! Complete with tiara, flowers and cookie cake thanks to Nick Ulloa ’17.
Wood paneling and a dead-poet’s-society air welcomes students, professors and visitors alike, with tables and booths illuminated by both neon bar signs and those green glass lamps found in your uncle’s study. Vintage photographs of past alumni look down at students playing pool, foosball, darts and skeeball in different corners of the room. While the bar does not serve food, students often bring snacks from Warch’s many dining options, and on occasion a large movie-style popcorn machine fills the room with that all-too-recognizable smell.
Instead of a strange outsider behind the bar, most VR bartenders are students, happy to make you whatever you please. On occasion, professors are invited to Guest bartend. Want a Moscow Mule made by your Russian professor? How about a Gin and Tonic measured out precisely by the woman who gave your chemistry lecture? Even if they’re not pouring your drinks, some professors are known to frequent the bar with their spouses/families, or even hold office hours in a cozy booth. This past weekend I bought my voice teacher a beer; let’s just say that’s one way to do some “studio bonding.”One of the wooden tokens worth a drink during happy hour. This one was gifted to me by my friend Jake Walker ’18, who like many calls me Charlie.
Open 5 days a week, the VR each day offers a little something different for students, professors and visitors. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the doors open at 4:30 to begin “Happy hour,” where (most) drinks come with a token worth another libation while Tallboy Tuesday features discounts on the Wisconsin favorite. Nonetheless, Thursday remains my favorite: TriVR.
Like other Trivia events, TriVR divides the crowd into teams, poses questions, collects the answer sheets, and announces the wining teams–however, besides the general layout, it’s a game unique to Lawrence. The hosts are Lawrentians; many rounds appeals to LU’s weird sense of humor; 1st place gets a $20 tab while 2nd place wins something the host finds “funny;” funny team names are not only encouraged, but awarded with a pitcher of beer; however, challengers beware, my team has held best name 6 weeks in a row. By the time the points are tallied, almost all the stresses of the week have faded from the Lawrentians’ busy minds.Annnnnnnnnnd later on the night my 21st. Lost my tiara, but something tells me Jake Lueck ’17 wore it better.
While every college town has the quintessential college bar, few have it on campus, featuring little nuances of Lawrence only something so connected to the school can offer. While you won’t find any 20 year olds around, all students of-age are graciously welcome to let their hair down and show their viking spirit.