There are countless aspects of your relationship with your parents that change when you go off to college, but there is one change in particular that most newly-college kids won’t see coming. When you become an independent “adult” in college, your parents no longer have to be the no-you-cannot-go-to-that-party parents that they once were…. Rather, they can be the “cool parents.” I, for one, never imagined I’d hear the words, “Which bars are we going to tonight?” come out of my mother’s mouth, much less have those words directed at me.
Maybe it’s because they don’t see us as little kids anymore, maybe it’s because we aren’t constantly around, making their lives a living hell, or maybe it’s just because they need to let loose once in a while and relive their own college days, but one thing is for sure: Parents thrive when going out with their kids in their respective college towns. This is only true, however, if you take them out the right way.
There are a lot of do’s and don’ts to taking your parents out in Gainesville, but if you do it right, you will not only have a night out like no other with your parents, but you’ll also form a whole new type of bond with them – one that can only be achieved through shared sake bombs, crazy dancing and top-shelf liquor.
1. Know which bars to avoid.
One of the most crucial potential problems to look out for when your parents come to visit and are looking forward to going out is how each bar is going to treat them.
I have learned through past experiences that the crowdedness of the bar is one of the largest factors that goes into whether or not your parents will enjoy their time there. And the final verdict is… parents don’t like Fat Daddy’s. I know, I know, it’s a tragedy that we can’t share our love for Gainesville’s most ratchet bar with our parents, but trust me on this one. With the exception of a few very wild parents, most will see the lack of view of a floor in Fat’s and run the opposite direction.
I tried to take my mom to Fat’s the first time she came to visit me and my sister in Gainesville, and it was not a fun experience for anyone involved. After waiting in line, attempting to convince my mom (and myself) that it wasn’t as crowded inside as it looked from the outside and finally stepping through the double doors, we stayed for all of 15 minutes then made a beeline for the back door.
I felt as if we were in the Titanic as I held on to my mom’s hand, pushed through the crowd and tried to “never let go” of her 110-pound-self for fear of never finding her again.
That would be the first (and last) time I ever took my mom to the infamous Fat Daddy’s. Atmosphere matters to parents, people.
2. Go to bars that offer more than loud music.
The bars my parents have had the most fun at in Gainesville are Tatu, the Social and Palomino. Even though each of these bars is very different, they all have one thing in common: They offer something other than music that you can’t speak over and sweaty bodies pushing up against you.
Whenever my friends and I know our parents are coming into town, we already have a reservation to sake bomb with them at Tatu. If you can get past the initial perplexion of your mom and/or dad trying to figure out why in the world we’d enjoy aggressively dropping sake into warm beer and chugging it, they too will have the time of their lives. Not only is sake bombing something interactive, fun and new to do with your parents, but it also allows everyone in the group to actually sit and have a conversation, as well.
The Social is probably the most real-person-bar we have in Midtown, and for that reason, most parents will enjoy it. It has a modern, clean atmosphere, space to move and cages to dance in.
The cages, you ask? Yes, the cages. When my mom came to visit, we dared her to dance in the cages at the Social. Of course (she insisted), she would never! A few vodka-cranberries later, however, her heart told her differently. And now we have an iconic photo of her dancing in the Social cages with a face that says she doesn’t have a care in the world.
Like I said, sometimes parents need to let loose too.
Palomino is a bar that UF students have only recently started to migrate to, but it is one worth bring your mom and pop to. With a pool hall and outside bar, there are plenty things to do and plenty of room to move.
The pool hall brought my mom back to her glory days where her offers to kick my ass in pool didn’t end all night. The backyard bar offers dance vibes with good music (some from our decade and some from theirs). All and all, Palomino is a huge bar (check one) with things to do (check two). Oh, AND they use real glasses, not plastic cups (check three for the ‘rents).
3. Know which friends are the right ones to go out with.
Picking which of your college friends to go out with when your parents are in town is a balancing act – you want them to be fun, but not so fun that your parents are going to pull you out of school. It is not the time or place to have friends that are blacking out and puking while your parents are in town. Go out with your friends that will give your parents the spotlight to have the night of their life, not the other way around.
Having your parents visit Gainesville is a blast if it’s done right. With a little consideration of where to go, what to do and who to go out with, you can bring out the cool side of your parents that was hiding all of high school. Not to mention, get ready to be #treated because your parents will feel like billionaires when they realize doubles in the Ville are only $2.
Like my dad said to me and all my friends on his visit – and your parents will say on theirs – “Patron shots on me.”