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Passing the Bar Exam 

In a city full of bars, college hangouts have carved out their own recognizable niche. Some of these establishments are even legendary, welcoming every new class of students.

The phenomenon known as the New Orleans college bar is definitely in a league of its own. But appearances can be misleading. For example, the crowd may often look suspiciously young because high school students are always out to fit in with the crowd. Nevertheless, local univeristy students will not deny that some of their fondest memories are of attending 8 a.m. classes hung over from a long night of barhopping.

So what makes a great college bar? Proximity to campus is key, because anything outside of a five mile radius might as well be in another state. Weekly drink specials, greasy grub and good times also are potent attractions.

The easiest off-campus bar to stumble into Uptown is appropriately named The Frat House, formerly known as Jimmy's. Although it's a little off the beaten path, there are some enticing factors to pull people in. Tuesday is 'Ladies' Night" and there is no cover charge. There are plenty of drink specials other nights of the week, including cheap pitchers of beer. This slightly dingy bar " kind of like a real frat house " also has a couple of stage areas if you want to show off your drunken dance moves, or just to play pool with everyone looking at you.

College bars don't get too upscale, but Bruno's Tavern, located down the street from the old Bruno's, is certainly a step up from other college bars. More clean and polished, this sports bar also has more older patrons in the mix. If you're looking for dancing, this isn't the place, but it has a large seating area that's perfect for relaxing with a drink and friends. If it gets loud when there's a big game on the TVs, it's best to move to the cluster of tables on the front and side patios.

Friar Tuck's is an Uptown institution on the edge of campus. The biggest draws here are the Ladies' Nights on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Although there's a $5 cover for girls, it's still well worth it. The guys don't have it so easy, but they still come because this is where the girls are. The beer pong tournaments are also very popular, drawing a crowd to play and cheer others on. This is definitely a dancing kind of place, with a good mix of current songs and '80s classics (Journey, etc.) that you won't have to admit you know well.

Fat Harry's is in a great location and is popular with college students. Sitting right where St. Charles and Napoleon avenues meet, this place is hopping at Mardi Gras (right on the Uptown route) and all year round. Although you'll find people of all ages here, especially when there's a live band, it's also crawling with college kids. Fat's, as it is affectionately known, can be a good place to dance or a cool atmosphere to hang out and converse. Although there is no official area designated for dancing, that isn't to say if you've had enough to drink you might not try to make one. Loud music makes it even easier to start the party. With all the people sitting at the tables inside and outside on the St. Charles Avenue sidewalk, you're bound to recognize many faces and feel right at home.

For location, the Boot is one of the easiest bars for Uptown students to find. Next to Crepes a la Carte and the Mushroom on Broadway Street, the Boot offers many students an orientation to college bars. If you go while Tulane and Loyola are still in session, you'll encounter plenty of the city's college-age population. Go on a Tuesday night, better known as '50 Cent Night" and expect wall-to-wall people enjoying cheap drinks. On other nights, the bar can take on different atmospheres: Sometimes a crowd develops and starts an impromptu dance part; sometimes it's slower and people hang out, play pool and socialize outside on the sidewalk. But you can always visit the Boot's other attraction, the adjoining Dough Bowl, for huge slices of cheese and pepperoni pizza.

Out-of-state students often bemoan the banality of house parties when they have to return home for summer break, but New Orleans students attending out-of-state schools are happy to return home to their local bars. New Orleanians have uncanny attachments to the bars they hold dear, and college students are no exception.

click to enlarge A younger crowd congregates at Republic in the Warehouse District. - CHERYL GERBER
  • Cheryl Gerber
  • A younger crowd congregates at Republic in the Warehouse District.
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