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Going overcover as an under

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Why is turning 21 hyped up to be some sort of life climax? The party starts well before the 21st birthday. Perhaps because turning 21 is like graduating from college nights: it grants you admittance into the bars that exile the small subculture of nightlife that is the 18 to 20 age bracket ... "the unders" if you will.

College nights are a nightlife entity that gives the unders the opportunity to have a nightlife all to themselves. They're charged a hefty cover to offset the lack of alcohol sales and are then accessorized with giant black X's marked across their hands before they head to the bathroom to try to wash them off. They then transform the brave bar hosting the college night into the equivalency of a high school dance equipped with high school drama, sans the chaperones.

A few Thursdays ago I went undercover as an under and somehow ended up on the tour bus for Girls Gone Wild. I was expecting to see naïve girls who lack self-esteem taking body shots off each other and flashing the cameras. But it was slightly calmer, merely a few people having conversations with a mixed drink in hand. But then we migrated from the bus to the bar for college night at BAR Charlotte, and that's where the girls were going wild. BAR had girls in cages dancing in tiny skirts with their bare butts hanging out and giggling about towards the crowd. Think Britney Spears, just not as hot. Meanwhile there were girls dancing on the bar and swinging from the swing descending from the ceiling. The girls were dressed like it was senior beach week in Myrtle Beach: tube tops and mini skirts in the middle of winter? Two words for you: coat check. When the cameras started rolling, things got even wilder and girls got even more naked; I just hope those girls don't think a cameo on Girls Gone Wild is their big break. Meanwhile there were nasty older men hanging out by the bar preying on the half-naked underage girls by buying shots in a covert operation to get them drunk. I was confused: was I in BAR Charlotte or BAR Gastonia?

I later relocated to Crush for its Thursday college night where I felt like the chaperone at the high school dance. I quickly learned that with crowds of young, immature, wild, and attractive party people, a Girls Gone Wild camera crew isn't necessary for the onset of debauchery. While at Crush I got to meet the self-titled "Charlotte Crew," a group of 30 some odd hot unders who hit up all the different college nights throughout the week. They're like the Brat Pack of the under subculture, the unofficial fraternity of the nightlife campus. Regardless of what college night you go to or night you go on, it's essentially the same scene with different faces, but you can always count on seeing the faces of the "Charlotte Crew." I just hope they go to class in between college nights.

Throughout the week, unders migrate from their home base of the University campus and fly south to uptown for college (week) nights, seeing as how Fridays and Saturdays are reserved for those who have celebrated that 21st birthday and are therefore more profitable patrons. In other words, the kids menu isn't served in uptown on the weekends. The college night syllabus is as follows: Menage and Time on Tuesdays, Wednesday is the ever-so-popular college night at the Forum, and while Thursday night is college night at Crush and BAR Charlotte, it is the anti-college night at Grand Central, which deliberately segregates the under subculture.

Since college nights tend to overlap, I took an unofficial survey, asking the unders to rate the different college nights. In the bowl games of college nights, Forum is ranked number one, followed by Crush, Soho East, BAR Charlotte, Liquid, Time, then Menage.

Whatever happened to the days when going to Jillian's to play video games was cool?

Warning: One day their generation will rule the nightlife population.

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