Web Exclusives: On the Campus

October 24, 2007:

Princeton’s ‘other’ club

By Jocelyn Hanamirian ’08

It happens every Wednesday without fail. Seniors are more than ready for a break from their workweek and their theses. They want to have a drink and hang out with friends, but after three years, even the 10 different Prospect Avenue offerings begin to wane in attraction, if not variety. So they arrive, en masse and after midnight, at the door of the “other” eating club, where a club pass, a themed outfit, or an under-21 ID can all get you funny looks. It’s an actual bar, frequented by Princeton students, and revered by some almost as a second club.

Of Ivy Inn, the bar on Nassau Street past Hoagie Haven, the only special attraction is its authenticity. It is a rare time to socialize with friends outside one’s own eating club and mix with members almost exclusively of one’s own senior class, as well as the healthy crowd of town patrons. Students go mostly on Wednesdays for the Inn’s karaoke night, but the microphone is more often held by Princeton residents singing country music. Over the din of a packed night and lots of toasts, who can hear?

“I went last year after turning 21,” frequenter Brandon Bierlein ’08 said. “That’s is a big perk of turning 21 at Princeton. Nothing against the Street atmosphere, but it’s nice to enjoy other things, and Ivy Inn lets you do that. There’s all kinds. You go to hang out; karaoke just happens to be there.”

Ivy Inn is cheap, offering $1 pints, and the atmosphere is that of a classic bar, featuring 20-odd mahogany stools, pool tables, a dartboard, and a television airing sports games.

“It felt like a more eclectic group of people than you see at eating clubs,” Mike Dirholf ’08 said of his first trip to Ivy Inn last month. “Especially on Wednesday. You can come out to the Street on Wednesday, and you’re not going to see that many people.”

The name Ivy Inn, etched onto a translucent green window at the entrance, has historical significance: It was the name of the first-ever eating club, what is now Ivy Club. On a typical Wednesday the bar is so packed that the crowd is spilling out into the back of the building, and greeting friends often requires an aggressive swim through the crowd.

But as one of the few parties in Princeton where you can expect to be happily surprised by the diversity of the crowd, and maybe even belt out a song with a long-lost friend from Outdoor Action, it’s worth the trip past Prospect.


Photos by Hyunseok Shim ’08