21 and new to the Geneseo bar scene

Having just turned 21 this past week, a train of emotions have been running through my head. Excitement has been at the forefront of my mind but just a little anxiety is beginning to push through.

Why? Turning 21 for most people generally means you've reached adulthood. But more often, being 21 is equated with being able to frequent as many bars as you want without a cover charge. And I know pretty much nothing about frequenting bars.

Over coffee with a friend yesterday, I was startled to realize I am also absolutely clueless when it comes to bar lingo. Between his references to quarter drafts at the Vital Spot on Thursday nights and the wheel of drink specials that one can take advantage of at the Idle Hour, I felt like a newborn experiencing the world for the very first time.

I made my first visit to the Idle over the weekend with some veteran bar friends and was almost surprised when I was allowed in, forgetting momentarily that I'm now legal. As my friend proceeded to order a "dirty water" I watched in awe as the bartender did his thing, efficiently mixing the drink, swiping her credit card, and managing to flirt and smile a little in between.

I have been to the Statesmen for musical performances and open mic nights and also frequented the IB on many weekend nights; however, this was my first experience as a 21-year-old bar goer. The Idle was definitely a very social bar, still pretty packed even at close to 2 a.m. People were clustered in groups of friends and acquaintances around the bar or near the pool table. It was pretty loud, but not nearly as ear shattering as the IB and I was pleased to find I could hold a conversation without shouting or getting too up close and personal.

Another valuable piece of knowledge I've picked up about bars is that no one goes to them until at least midnight. Or at least this is what I was told when I suggested to leave a party and visit the bar at 11:30 p.m. I was met with aghast expressions and a few "tsk tsks" because I didn't know better.

I'm still not sure about the specific differences between the five Geneseo bars - the Idle, the Vital, the IB, the Statesman, and Kelly's - or what one offers that the other doesn't, but from what I've heard, where you decide to go depends on the mood you're in and what kind of night you are looking for.

All in all, my first bar experience was a positive one. Being able to walk into a social atmosphere and not having to pay is definitely a perk. Since I'm not a big drinker, not even having to order a drink if you don't want to is another perk. I still don't know if I'm the bar kind of girl, but I'm definitely willing to spend some more time figuring it out.

If anything, bars offer a more relaxing and low-key alternative to fraternity and sorority parties and are a great way to get out and talk to people.