Party Scene

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Party Scene


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2 College Sophomore

Party Scene: Small school small parties same people. Eventually get bored and tired (me, at least). First years tend to be a little crazy and try to be all hardcore. Some gatherkngs may be more exclusive than others, say athlete parties but if you don't mind the cross contamination inthise circles, go for it. But really, it's a small, small school. I suggestyou make some friends off campus or at the U who can get access into frat parties and the like if you're into that.

3 College Sophomore

Party Scene: Nothing around campus. You'll have to take public transit into downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul to find some decent nightlife actvities.

4 College Freshman

Party Scene: Many students do party, but there's no pressure to drink/do drugs at parties. There's not really a divide between students who drink and students who don't.

4 College Sophomore

Party Scene: Sometimes it can be harder to find parties, but when you live in the first-year dorms, it's pretty easy - just follow the noise. People are generally really welcome and inviting at parties. A lot of groups (clubs, teams, classes, any kind of defined group) at Macalester have themed progressives that include scheduled themed stops. These are very open and inviting to members of a group and a good way to bond with people on the weekends or outside of an academic setting. On top of that, you don't need to drink to go on progressives or go to parties in general! There's very little pressure to do so if you don't want to. Off-campus house parties are usually pretty cool and fun. Sometimes they can get pretty loud, but unlike at some other schools, I've never heard of the police being called or the hosts of a party kicking people out for illegitimate reasons. On-campus parties in dorm rooms occasionally get busted, but the punishments are pretty lenient. In my opinion, the noise levels on-campus can get pretty loud without having to worry about getting in trouble.

3 College Freshman

Party Scene: On weekend nights there's always something going on. There is no greek life so it's typically just casual parties in dorms.


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Student Author OverviewWhat's this?

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For all the great things about the Mac-Groveland neighborhood, there’s one thing that it doesn’t offer Macalester students: decent college-oriented nightlife. While house parties are great and can often get really big (word of mouth and texting spread information about good parties faster than wildfire), the area isn’t conducive to the same sort of progressives or ragers that U of M students might find on Frat Row. Truth be told, students that go to Macalester might not necessarily want that level of chaos on a weekend night, but it’s nice to have that option for those particularly rough weeks when you just want to let loose.

Fear not: just a short bus or cab ride away, students can find a whole world of nightlife awaiting them with open arms. Downtown Minneapolis has countless clubs and bars, and though downtown St. Paul doesn’t have the same caliber of club life, there are some decent bars there, too. Dinkytown and the U of M provide the best stereotypical college nightlife options, with clubs, music venues, bars, and late-night food joints. If you’re brave enough to breach the traditional rivalry between Macalester and the University of St. Thomas, you can find some small-scale, frat-like parties on the St. Thomas campus. However, students don’t need to leave campus (or even be of age) to have a good time. There are dances every few weeks in the Kagin ballroom, with fun DJs, nighttime events sponsored by various student organizations (including the ever-popular Queer Cabaret), art gallery openings, theater and dance productions, musical groups that come to campus, and more. Nightlife at Macalester is completely up to individual students, and more often than not, people are aching to seize the night until the sun comes up.

Facts & Statistics

Primary Areas with Nightlife
  • Dinkytown
  • Downtown Minneapolis
  • Uptown Minneapolis
Other Places to Check Out
  • Billy's On Grand
  • Sneaky Pete's
Local Specialties
  • Summit Beer: The Summit Brewery is located in St. Paul.
  • Surly Beer: Surly Brewing Company is located in Minneapolis.
Favorite Drinking Games
  • Beer pong
  • Flip cup
  • Kings
Useful Resources for Nightlife
  • The City Pages
Closing Time
2 a.m.
Cheapest Place to Get a Drink
Groveland Tap O'Gara's Bar & Grill Wild Onion
Organization Parties
Student clubs and organizations often throw dances on campus or organize parties (some of which may be exclusive to members) either on campus or off. Sports teams also throw inclusive parties in on-campus cottages/houses or in houses off campus.
Did You Know?
Many of the concert venues and clubs in the Twin Cities will have occasional 18-and-up or all-ages shows. Be sure you check out club schedules or special events before you declare that there's nothing to do before you're 21 years old. The Gay `90s, The Quest, First Avenue, and Bryant-Lake Bowl are all good places to check out if you're not yet old enough to drink. There are also clubs in the Twin Cities area that always offer all-ages or 18-and-older activities.

Club ListingsWhat's This?

Turf Club

Long before line dancing became a national fad, the Turf Club was the leading club in country two-stepping. Today, the Turf Club is a well-known and unconventionally trendy club in an area where many clubs didn't survive. Unlike most of the popular clubs in the Twin Cities, it's actually in St. Paul, and only a short, few-minute drive from the Macalester campus. The club offers live music almost every night, surprisingly cheap concert tickets, and cheap drinks. The Turf Club is a great place to go to hear a promising live local band or an odd national act Tuesday through Saturday.

1601 University Ave. W

St. Paul

(651) 647-0486

The Gay `90s Night Club

As the name of the nightclub would suggest, the Gay `90s is officially a gay and lesbian club; in fact, it's the largest such club in the Upper Midwest. What you find upon entering on any given weekend, however, is that, for better or for worse, all three dance floors are packed with predominantly straight men and women. In other words, everyone is welcome to have a good time. The club even has two restaurants and seven bars. The drinks are large and strong, and the drag shows and karaoke nights often draw a large crowd. There are male strippers every Friday and Saturday night, plus specials on burgers, chicken dinners, and cocktails throughout the week.

408 Hennepin Ave.


(612) 333-7755

First Avenue & 7th Street Entry

Like other clubs in the Twin Cities, First Avenue is well known outside of Minnesota in part because of the connection it has to Prince-he featured the club in "Purple Rain." However, the Prince connection isn't what draws most people to the club; rather, it's the diverse lineup of bands that play, the eclectic crowd, the fact that it's open until 3 a.m., and the rare, small-venue atmosphere that First Avenue & 7th Street Entry offer. There is also a lengthy list of musical history that originated from the club, and a good chance of hearing a really great band that hasn't already been played to death on the radio. First Avenue is among the most popular clubs in the Twin Cities, and along with the 7th Street Entry, it's a great place to hear some talented, new bands or dance into the early morning hours.

701 First Ave.


(612) 338-8388

Bar ListingsWhat's This?

O'Gara's Bar & Grill

Along with Plum's and Groveland Tap, O'Gara's is a Mac favorite. They brew their own beer in small batches to ensure the best quality, and have live bands, including the popular Battle of the Bands competition. Thursdays are college nights and usually are the most crowded. The menu includes wings, quesadillas, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, salads, and pastas.

164 Snelling Ave. N

St. Paul

(651) 644-3333

Groveland Tap

Whether you like it or not, you're basically guaranteed a run-in with a fellow Macalester student if you go to the Tap. A short walk away from campus, the Tap is a good place to get drinks and play some pool, video games, or darts in the back. In addition, no matter where you turn in the Tap, you're always in view of a TV broadcasting some sort of sporting event. The big wooden booths are nice places to sit in big groups and grab some fast food. Daily specials include $2 PBR tall boys every day.

1834 St. Clair Ave.

St. Paul

(651) 699-5058

Wild Onion

A Chicago-style bar, Wild Onion is nicer than all of the others around the area and the kind of place where you might hear a little Frank Sinatra.

788 Grand Ave.

St. Paul

(651) 291-2525


Plums is a household name for any St. Paul college student, and it is always on the top of most students' lists for places to go on a Thursday or Saturday night, when Plums has DJs and dancing. The music is usually top 40 or standard college party-night music, but there is a jukebox or the occasional local rock band if you want to change it up. It usually gets pretty packed at night, but if you go early, you should be able to snag one of the few booths or a nice seat on the patio.

480 Snelling Ave. S

St. Paul

(651) 699-2227


Although the Cabooze is a popular bar, it's best known for its live music and distinct design. The Cabooze, shaped like a giant train caboose, is a very casual environment to have a drink, meet some interesting music-lovers, or listen to some great live blues, rock, soul, country, or reggae. While the Cabooze features local bands on a regular basis, national acts such as George Clinton have also performed at the bar.

917 Cedar Ave. S


(612) 338-6425

Artists' Quarter Jazz Club

The Artists' Quarter is a favorite among many Macalester students because it offers something that no other club in the immediate area does: great, live jazz on an almost daily basis. Located in the historic Hamm Building, the AQ has a particularly inviting atmosphere inside. European jazz posters and photos of local jazz legends decorate the walls, the lights are dimmed, and the acoustics are first-rate. The lounge is also a place of convergence for jazz fans of all generations, and the extensive wine list makes the AQ a good place to relax for wine connoisseurs. Most nights, the cover charge is only $3 to $5. National or well-known acts are slightly more expensive, but always affordable, even for the college student. As an added bonus, the club is also fairly easy to access by bus.

408 St. Peter St.

St. Paul

(651) 292-1359

400 Bar

Although the 400 Bar is closer to the University of Minnesota than Macalester, it's still a popular place to drink, hang out, and listen to music for Mac students. In general, musical acts tend to fall into the indie or alternative rock genres, and bands that have played at the 400 Bar include The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, Sean Lennon, Interpol, and Soul Asylum, among many others. If you don't come for the music, come for the large selection of beer.

400 Cedar Ave. S


(612) 332-3844

Bryant-Lake Bowl

Bryant-Lake Bowl is part bar, part restaurant, part coffeehouse, bowling alley, and performance center. In other words, it's a great place to go for a variety of different activities and for a variety of different people, but the crowd definitely tends to be 21-and-up. Live entertainment is offered daily. The performance art stage features music acts, plays, comedy shows, dance numbers, cabarets, and films. Some of the special features of Bryant-Lake Bowl include a wine list featuring more than 50 bottles from around the world and an old-fashioned bowling alley. Keep in mind, however, that you do have to keep your own score in bowling.

810 W. Lake St.


(612) 825-3737

Blue Door Pub

The little-pub-that-could with the best Juicy Lucy burgers (they call them "Blucys") in the Twin Cities. This establishment was once featured on the Food Network's show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" with Guy Fieri, who raved about the burgers and appetizers at the Blue Door.

1811 Selby Ave.

St. Paul

(651) 493-1865

What to Do if You're Not 21What's This?

"Too Much Love" at First Avenue

As the Twin Cities' most-loved dance club and music venue, First Avenue was made famous by Prince. "Too Much Love" is the 18-and-over dance night.

701 First Ave.


(612) 338-8388

Student Polls

Rate the off-campus bar and club scene on the following topics    Based on 30 responses

Very poor
  • Convenience to get to
  • Cover charges
  • Distance from campus
  • Drink prices
  • Fun
  • Variety/number of options

What is the party scene like on campus?    Based on 30 responses

  • 0% Tons of raging parties almost any night of the week.
  • 7% Lots of options Wednesday-Saturday.
  • 53% Some decent frat/house parties, weekends only.
  • 40% Good parties are few and far between.
  • 0% Parties? What parties?

What is the biggest party event of the year?     Based on 8 responses

  • 62% Spring Fest
  • 38% Winter Ball
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