The Burning of the Temple: What the loss of the Keg means for NU

    Do you believe in life after love?

    It’s Monday. Again. And here I am mass-texting as usual, seeing if I can round up a Keg buddy who is interested in going out to our old familiar place. TKOE may be trashy, but it’s the closest we get to the Billy Joel ideal of "cold beer, hot lights, those romantic teenage nights" at NU. It’s our dive. It’s our haunt. It’s our treehouse. Of course, my upper classmen friends resist, citing that they are "too old for the Keg."

    Twenty-one and too old for a bar. Fancy that.

    The Fear-of-Missing-Out and the fun of tuning in keep students coming to the bar by the busload. It’s like my grandpa always said: the Keg is like going to services at synagogue – it’s not going to be fun, per se, but you can’t like, not go. You can’t just not go to synagogue. You have to show up so you can say you did, of course.

    Now, unless you want to BYOB to the Keg for dinner, this fabled destination is gone. The Keg has been razed by city officials on account of all the laws they broke. I’m told it was a lot of laws, possibly all of them. As much as I’d love to soapbox about the drinking age being foolish, this isn’t the time or the place to fight city hall. There’s a million things America does differently than everyone else, and it seems that everyone else gets better results.

    A JOKE: Guy says he went to Catholic school and his friend says 'then why aren’t you Catholic?' Guy replies 'well, because I went to Catholic school.' Similarly, it's the nations with the tightest alcohol policies produce exuberance and those with the loosest produce responsibility. Recently on a trip to Israel (it’s like, okay we get it, Max, you’re Jewish), a nation with a loosely enforced drinking age of 18, a nation where you can walk down the boulevard drinking a beer, a 24-year-old complained that "College Americans have all the fun with using substances. We don’t go crazy like that in school." But I said I wouldn’t soapbox.

    Instead, let’s talk about Northwestern – and what this means for us, Northwestern, that pretty Midwestern private university of 6 to 8,000 students rolling stones uphill in a never-ending fight for campus unity. For anyone who hasn’t spent a full period of sociology class providing definitions of community, the NU administration likes to cite any event that brings many people together. Dillo Day, DM, Blowout and many other repeating activities that draw thousands of students. Doesn’t the Keg fall under this definition?

    TRIVIA: Tour guides aren’t allowed to refer to any "north campus" or "south campus" because it implies that there are two different campuses. But aren’t there?

    Friends from all walks of campus life can grab a table at the Keg.

    Listen, I am writing this piece from my off-campus apartment near south campus. I am not a member of Greek life (which, lest you forget, includes only one-third of students). What made the Keg a unique place was that none of these things mattered. Whether by bus, by foot, or by SafeRide, Sherman and Grove always meant the same thing. Now, when the sun goes down and the moon comes up, some kids will go to off-campus homes, some will go to frat houses, some will go to Chicago, and some will go to the library. But the Keg was the one venue that attracted nearly all party-going Northwestern students. Any member of the Northwestern community might show their face at the Keg on some occasion. And you know what they say: a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met on the dance floor yet.

    But now this is all past tense, and the reality will change. You know that one girl or guy from class that you have a thing for but don’t live near? You may never bump into them again. You know that hall-mate from freshman year who rushed and is never around anymore? You may never bump into them again, either. And that friend who moved to deep-south Evanston and doesn’t make the commute much anymore? Them too.

    The real majors (opposite of minors? Or is it just 'adults?' Gross.) reading have Prairie Moon and Nevin's, great places to share a cold one with your cohort. That being said, and no offense to my 2012 bros, this doesn’t cut it for some of us. Dead with the Keg is much of the opportunity to see new faces out on the town before shuffling out of college and through the rabbit hole into the cold grip of the proverbial 'real world.'

    HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED how poorly utilized the real estate in Evanston is? The most beautiful view of the lake and skyline? It’s a parking garage. The view of the lagoon? Windowless Norris. The west side of Sheridan road? Tiny department houses. The geographic center of campus? Parking lot. The 1800 building at the crossroads of town and campus? Not a bar, just an office. And now the Keg….we can only guess. My favorite Facebook status of the day posited that it will become a pan-Asian restaurant. Yeah, probably.

    With the traffic redirected away from commercial Sherman, it will undoubtedly build up in the problem zones around Maple Avenue, aka off campus houses where adults live. Hi Gawker, remember us?

    Well I’m not here for much longer. But I have a lot of fears for the future classes of NU. This isn’t the first bar to close, nor will it be the last. But before you stomp the grave, think seriously about what this means for campus community.

    Now join me in saying, Good Night Keg.

    Good night fraternity pregames.

    Good night DFMOs.

    Good night Ke$ha, Taio and Dougie.

    Good night townies creeping.

    Good night befriending bouncers.

    Goodnight Sherman (below Church street).

    Good night Nevin’s → Keg combo.

    Good night free popcorn.

    Good night shoulder checks.

    Good night big cups.

    In the words of Hendrix, We don’t need you no more in this world, but we’ll see you on the next one, and don’t be late.

    But hey, at least we’ve solved the underage drinking problem.


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