Losing your GCB virginity: Expectations vs. Reality

A few weeks ago I turned 21 and, being a (relatively) normal human being, I naturally waited until the clock struck midnight; then, as soon as it was legal, I rushed over to Grad Center Bar to see what was behind the door to Narnia. Well no; I didn’t do that–it was a Sunday night and I was on work overload [Ed. – and they wouldn’t have let you in until the next day because #GCB!]– but I did make it over to GCB within the next week or so to see what all the fuss was about.

I feel like, as soon as you meet any upperclassmen at Brown, you start hearing rumors about GCB. Dude, were you at GCB last night? People talk about it like it’s some big secret. If you haven’t been there, you don’t know what to believe and what not to believe. You might have some obscure representation of the GCB experience in your mind. Having recently traversed the bridge between the pre-and-post-GCB life, I thought I’d share some seemingly common scenarios in the thought bytes that surround this mysterious locale. Take this, if you will, as a kind of FAQ guide to our on-campus hotspot.

GCB entrance

The entrance to Narnia, aka GCB (above).

  1. Where IS the GCB, anyway? It’s gotta be in some hidden spot on campus, in some unbelievably rad building. 

It’s all in the name. You know Grad Center? Campus’s most attractive building? Yeah, well if you walk up the ramp off of Charlesfield, as if you’re heading towards Bear’s Lair, you’ll get to an incredibly scenic patio-type space: ominous towers, cheerful concrete, decorative dumpsters, and several overly-aggressive squirrels will greet you. On your right sits a strange block of a building that looks like someone put it there haphazardly, perhaps in a poor attempt to cover up a bit of the sea of concrete. At best, it looks like it could be home to Brown’s biggest trash room. But if you walk up to it, there is a sign by the door that says “Hours,” which looks like it was printed off of someone’s home computer in an unexciting font. You walk in, go down a set of stairs (so that you’re no longer in the block building, but in the space underneath it), and you find a dim, surprisingly chill space called “GCB.”

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where the party's at

A freshman’s guide to Wriston Quad

where the party's at

You can feel the changes already: one month into the semester and you’re actually (somewhat) acclimated to life at Brown. You’ve figured out your classes (and took the S/NC jump), you have more than two people to sit with in the Ratty (and finally got that creepy dude off your back), and are well on your way to comprehending the difference between credits and points (one of them is for muffins only, right?).  Looks like the only things left to master are homework and living for the weekend.

Oh, right…the weekend.

There are a lot of activities I could advocate for and against here, but for brevity’s sake, this post will deal with the locale where a lot of them will probably take place: Wriston Quad. One-armed Caesar Augustus has seen enough shenanigans in his day (and survived a hurricane!), so make his rusty visage proud by handling yourself like a champ in these situations.

But I’m basically Ansel Adams!

As inebriation and the hysteria of seeing your best friend from POLS 40 in the basement of Sigma set in, cameras and iPhones will inevitably be yanked out of purses and pockets. Like a well-built piece of flypaper, anything with a camera in it causes the more narcissistic of us to flock towards the flash. So go easy on the party’s flow – don’t take more than two pictures of the same group of people. Stick to one serious, one funny. You’ll wake up the next morning and not remember half of their names, so make the tagging easier and keep your photo seminars brief.

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