A Kent Night Out
Words by Megan Ayscue | Photo by Kassi Jackson
As the Saturday sun sets behind the oaks and pines across Kent, students flock on and around campus for a weekend of dating, dancing and drinking, each person searching for a momentary release, happiness or friendship.
Light still lingering in the air, packs of young adults travel down the Esplanade toward downtown. A variety of outfits adorn the throngs of students resistant to the weather change. Some walk in preparation of the cold, with blue jeans, leggings and tall boots insulating their legs from the chilly shadows. Flowing open sweaters grace the arms of some, while others walk heads held high as if they’ve never felt cold in their lives, as they bare arms and midriff in crop tops and skirts. Many carry weighed-down drawstring bags and backpacks, a faint slosh or clank audible when closeby.
One group approaches a house with a few people standing on its porch, red solo cups in hand. The shades are drawn, but a subtle light sneaks through the cracks of the window covers and door frame. Girls approach the door and ask to go inside. One of the guys by the door enthusiastically agrees, scanning each person up and down as they proceed. Color-shifting light engulfs the porch as the door opens, a muffled bass roaring from within. The door is quickly shut after the last of the group enters.
To one side of the first room, a couch is crowded with too many people conversing at a closer-than-average distance from one another. As one girl tells a story, her drink sloshes a little over the lip of her red plastic cup, splashing on her hand and knee. She wipes away the liquid from her knee as she licks the drip falling down her hand, not missing a beat in the story she was attempting to tell.
On the other side of the room, a beer-pong game is going strong, the table covered in a concoction of spilled drinks. The newly entered group stops to look around as one person takes beers and plastic bottles half full of different colored beverages from a backpack. One girl takes a pink drink, while another takes a dark and bubbly one. Each winces slightly as they take a gulp.
Music amplifies while heading down the narrow wooden stairs to a crowded stone basement. Closest to the DJ are mostly men, cheering as a new song comes on. Around them is a sea of people dancing as much as they can within a one-foot radius to avoid bumping into each other or spilling their drinks. A group of five girls and two guys makes it halfway down the stairs, scanning the sea of spinning and wobbling bodies to yell at one girl that they have to leave.
They have another party to journey toward.
A few streets down, a different group enters a house with similar ease. It’s much darker outside now, cooler, but screams and laughter can be heard from all over the neighborhood. Inside, another beer pong game is surrounded with excited players and spectators, while the conjoined room is brimming with people. Dancers jump up and down as shapes spin on the walls from a light machine, the only source of light in the room besides the occasional camera flash from smartphones.
On the dance floor, someone passes out an assortment of canned beverages, supplying empty hands. One guy drinks from a clear bag filled with wine as someone else slaps it. Less crowded is the kitchen, with people in sets of two leaning against walls and appliances while chatting, everyone with at least one drink in hand. Going out the back door from the kitchen, people sit in the dark smoking. The chilly temperature deters most from staying outside long. Conversations are cut short as cigarettes are extinguished on a tree root and people head back inside, enveloped by shifting blue and red lighting, heavy bass and people dancing with bent arms so their lips are never too far from their drinks.
The floor inside is sticky and the air is humid, smelling of stale beer and sweat. Two girls giggle and stumble their way to a small bathroom barely big enough for one person, while a few couples head to the front porch searching for cleaner air to recuperate. One house down, someone throws up in a yard as someone pats their back.
Some start to head home now, walking uphill back toward campus, piling into Ubers or walking to someone’s nearby apartment. Others continue to roam one street to another, looking for more parties to keep their night from ending. A small group starts singing as another consoles a crying girl. Downtown, the bars are found stocked with older crowds, aged out of the house party nightlife for the most part. Wind blows as the sidewalks become sparse, students few and far between, and cars vanish from parking spaces. Once home, these party participants will crawl into bed before sunrise, capping off a night of memories only to awaken to another search for the perfect night out.
Megan Ayscue is a senior editor, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for the Fall 2017 issue of The Burr Magazine, on stands Tuesday, Nov. 28.