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I Went to a Frat Formal for the First Time, & Here’s What Happened

In high school, I hated the idea of fraternities. As a feminist, the stereotypes of a fraternity deeply disturbed me—as a woman, the stereotypes of a fraternity scared me. When I first entered college last semester, I refused to even drive on fraternity row. Months ago, I was a completely different person. Months ago, I didn’t know how the whole system really was.

That was months ago. At that time I was in a committed relationship, 15 pounds heavier and with only a few friends at UF. Nowadays I find myself in the library till 2 a.m. with a different friend group each night.

Earlier this semester, my preconceived understanding of what fraternities were like was shattered. For the sake of the organization’s privacy, I will not reveal their letters, but they are a part of the Interfraternity Council, or IFC. My best friend is dating an executive member of the frat, and she started to bring me around the house more. I quickly became friendly with a few brothers.

One of my new friends, who is my best friend’s boyfriend’s best friend, invited me to be his date to formal. I happily said yes. One Super Smash Bros Ultimate themed cooler, an argument with my grandparents about whether or not I should go and a five-hour bus ride later, we were at their beach-themed 2019 formal.

I don’t know what I was expecting, to be honest. I walked into the trip ready to party like I hadn’t before (because I hadn’t). I was ready to make some wild college memories. Stories that would make my high school friends go “you did what?” because me going away with a fraternity wasn’t jaw-dropping enough…

I never expected to have so much fun with a fraternity. I knew it was going to be a good trip when I got to the house and my date started flexing his cooler. Needless to say, everyone was impressed.

But also, I knew a lot of these guys beforehand. I have been on date functions with them, I played video games with them and I even went on a few dates with one of them. Being in that kind of gross typical fraternity living room made me realize that I liked hanging out with them.

With that thought in mind, we left for our trip. The bus ride was a combination of country music and rap music (yes, “Old Town Road – Remix” was blasted on what seemed like a never-ending loop), drunk older brothers and somewhat culty fraternity songs that were nothing but hilarious. It was a definitely a memorable experience.

Perhaps one of the funniest memories was of a song they sing when an older brother chugs a drink. They all chant in unison and yell in the brother’s face until he finishes chugging. Of course, none of this was done forcefully. Usually the brother who was chugging would make a big announcement beforehand with “Everytime We Touch” looping in the background.

By the time we got to our destination, it was really late at night and my date was feeling a little sick from the ride. I went out with some of the other brothers and my best friend to dinner at a really cute beach place.

The next day we headed straight toward the beach. I’m from South Florida and grew up by the beach, so it was nice to feel like I was back home again.

It was so relaxing to just lay in the pool with some friends and not have a worry in the world. The last time I heard waves crash along the shore was during spring break, so the familiar sound was music to my ears. Nothing beats a good formal trip, that’s for sure!

After a few hours of catching rays and waves, my date and I headed back up to the room and met up with my best friend and her boyfriend. We got changed into our formal outfits (AKA my old prom dress) and waited for everyone else downstairs.

The formal dinner was at a sports bar, which lowkey plays into the stereotypes of a fraternity not gonna lie. Regardless, it was still a lot of fun. We ate Italian food during a full-on roast of each brother as they were given an award. Talk about dinner and a show.

Some awards were a little confusing to non-brothers, but for the most part all the dates could understand them. Perhaps my favorite award was the one given to a guy I used to date. He won the “Most Girlfriends at the Same Time” award (and now you know why I ended it).

That night we went downtown and chilled around the local area. We went into one of the 18+ clubs and danced. The day at the beach exhausted us, though, so we ended up just taking an Uber over to an IHOP and hanging out there for a bit. Honestly, nothing beats IHOP grits at 1 a.m.

Our ride home was more than memorable, too. My date and I played our Nintendo Switches for about three of the five hours while the same yeehaw music played. It was great.

The whole trip was a great college memory for a formerly anti-frat feminist. I’m so glad I went and would love to go again!

Christina Pugliese is a sophomore majoring in telecommunications and history with a minor in women's studies at the University of Florida. She loves traveling and learning, so it didn't surprise anyone that she wanted to be an investigative reporter. She has told stories from many different cities, and she wants to tell more! This planet has so many unique experiences to offer, and she needs to experience them all. When she is not traveling, you can find her volunteering, shopping, writing, discussing politics, or planning her next trip.
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