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Maybe your chapter is in debt. Maybe your membership is too low to collect enough money for a nicer trip. Maybe your chapter isn’t allowed at any respectable venue within 500 miles. For whatever reason, your formal is looking less than stellar this year. While this may be an awful situation to find yourself in, I’ll do what I can to help you make the most of it by highlighting some third-rate formal locations to check out. Our featured destination for today is only a few miles away from your house! That’s right, you’ve fucked up so hard that you can’t even get out of town. Time to make the most of it.
So your budget for formal is around $600, which wouldn’t even get you two hours at a respectable resort or condo. Not to worry, as that’ll get you several adjoining rooms at a motel on the edge of town. You no longer have to worry about the logistics of getting everyone to a faraway venue, and will no longer have to drive back hungover when it’s finished. This is just like when poor people take “stay-cations” and don’t leave their town. What you’re doing was actually trendy during the recession when fuel prices were through the roof, which somewhat validates it.
For the motel venue, you’ll need to have a few brothers head over before everyone else so that they can soundproof it. You need to be considerate of all the people doing heroin and being visited by their parole officers. Once you do that, you’ll also need to clean the place up to reduce the danger posed by splinters and mold. It’s literally the opposite of the idiot proofing you would do at an actual formal venue.
When your whole crew arrives, you’ll need to divvy up the rooms appropriately. Top officers and seniors get the room with the microwave and the fewest rats, while the newest guys get the one where a dirty syringe was found under the sheets. With the rest of your budget, you need to head over to the liquor store and pick up what will be the staple of your formal: Black Velvet whiskey. This is one of the worst liquors that you can buy, but boy does it get you some kinda fucked up. It’s a little-known fact that whenever you finish one handle of Velvet, two more appear. Use that to your advantage and see just how many handles of the brown swill your group can put down. The best part is that you won’t even feel any shame when you awake the next day. That has less to do with lost dignity and more to do with the fact that you won’t remember where you are or what year it is upon waking up. If the circumstances surrounding your motel formal become too much for you to handle, you can always walk your sorry ass home.
It’s sadly come to my attention that there are schools out there that don’t let their fraternities do proper formals, and other schools where formals just aren’t prevalent. Sometimes the fraternities won’t even have an overnight event, opting instead to only do dinner and an activity and call it a formal. Our own Not So Sweetheart offered an account of the formal situation at her school.
So without having proper destinations, chapters have one of two methods for selecting formal venues. First is they have a traditional spot that they always go back to. This can mean having semiformal at the same bottom-tier country club every year and getting classy for the “formal” formal by going to a vineyard. If someone gets too far gone, rather than being able to just go back to the hotel room, they might be as much as an hour away from home.
The second route is they pick a new place every year, meaning the handful of good venues in driving distance for a single night get put on rotation every couple of years. Occasionally the fraternities get creative by going to the (cheap) local zoo, but mostly “thinking outside of the box” results in people choosing venues that fall completely flat and are all wrong for the event. At my last semiformal for my sorority we went to a restaurant-bar that was too small for our crowd, which was exacerbated by the fact that the manager insisted on remaining open to the public, so there were randos chilling next to us at the bar all night taking up even more space.
The general schedule is leaving school at 5, dinner by 7, drinking and dancing for the rest of the night until buses head home around 11. Pregaming is a must if you hope to be drunk at all, liquor minis and flasks on the bus are standard. Postgaming is hit or miss, most of the couples head home to get laid. Unless there’s a party in full swing when everyone gets home, it’s hard to get something started and get more than a dozen people willing to try and start something.
Without knowing that weekend-long formals are a thing, it’s easy enough to be content with a single semi-drunk night of dressing up and hooking up. Ignorance is bliss. But knowing what else is out there makes the whole practice just depressing.
If your house doesn’t do a proper weekend formal, do what you can to make it happen. It’s well worth the trouble. .