Opinion | Columns

Why we go to 1020

My first encounter with 1020 was during NSOP 2011. I happened to be on the block for some godforsaken reason (probably making the classic CrackDel round trip, this was NSLOP after all) and I spotted my COÖP leader in that roped-off bit that looks more akin to an animal pen than a VIP section. We shouted hello! He asked how I’d been! I said I loved Columbia! We then tried to convince a friend of his that I was really (!) a sophomore for no particular reason. It worked! For three minutes. Soon my uber-enthusiasm for all things collegiate gave me away, and I was infantile once again. Brouhaha ensued.

Eventually, we parted, and I walked up Amsterdam for good. My friends happened to be Heights regulars, and I became one too. We would never end up making the trek down to 110th again. Bar culture thrives on reputation, so I began to associate chain-smoking, grad students, and chain-smoking future grad students with That Place That Had No Real Name, just like everyone else. I didn’t think too much of it at the time, and besides, I was too busy getting turned away by Anna.

It’s funny how things change. I went to 1020 the other night, actually.

Let’s look at this objectively: I stood in a freezing cold line for 20 minutes (which is slightly less demeaning than doing the same outside a frat, only because the bouncer is older and therefore in a semi-justifiable position of power). After I finally got inside, it took another 10 minutes to shout demands at the bartender, snag something, anything, and aggressively mosh my way through the obnoxiously skinny aisle to the back of the bar. Somehow we managed to find empty chairs, and as I sat down for the first time in at least a few hours, I couldn’t help but feel vaguely … triumphant. Dare I say happy, even?

I’ll be the first to admit that my first problem was probably the fact that I was not yet at a point beyond caring. The second was quite possibly the fact that I’d spent the afternoon reading philosophical nothings for CC.

As I cradled my drink and literally stared back at what I’d waited so long for, I couldn’t help but wonder why I had put up with all of this in the first place. It began with, “Why am I at 1020?” which eventually became, “Why do people go to 1020 at all?” and turned into the even more existential “How do people even get along at this school?”

To answer the first question: One could say that every bar has an associated identity, and I suppose that as mine has changed, so has where I hang out. I’m no longer involved with athletics, and the clubs I’m involved with now seem to prefer glass cups to plastic solos. Both are cool, but things change. It happens.

At the same time, making such drastic changes in my own life has made me realize that social mobility at this school isn’t as common as we would think it to be. People who lived on your John Jay floor eventually became your neighbors in McBain. The teammates you practice with make the most practical roommates. It’s a balance between proximity, chance, and actual socialization, which apparently ended with my Rolling Rock and me in a 1020 chair.

Last November, the New York Times published a piece called “How to Live Without Irony.” The author claims that our generation’s search for individuality and innovation in such a informationally overwhelmed society has manifested itself as “irony.” In a society all too self-aware of its frivolity, what it essentially craves is authenticity. Hence, the “thrift shop” mentality of finding something “unique,” or the newfound “grittiness” of the superhero as furthered by “The Dark Knight.”

So now that I roll with another crowd, why do people go to 1020? And, if anything, why do the lines seem to getting even longer? I talked about it all with a senior today, and she gave me the knowing look of a seasoned professional: “I don’t want to be one of those people, but it’s always been popular, dude. It’s just something you have to know about, and then you’ll realize that references to it are everywhere.”

But another friend argued that 1020 was only just recently “commandeered back” from the grad students who had staked their claim over the past few years, and we’re simply witnessing its return to glory. This, I realized the other night, is the reason why 1020 is becoming more popular on campus. This dive is to the collegiate experience as Urban Outfitters is to clothing, the experiential equivalent to discovering the next “indie” band before it blows up, and the subsequent anger hipsters feel when they hear “their song” on pop radio for the first time. (I’ve heard my fair share of complaints about what 1020 “used” to be like before Bwog made it a tag.)

Admittedly, there’s something glorious about a booth successfully stolen. The drinks are indeed cheap(er). There is a TV projector that (allegedly) switches to porn in the ungodly hours of the morning, as well as Christmas lights strung along the ceiling. That semi-permanent brand-stamp still won’t rub off my hand.

It might be just another place, sure. But I think 1020 represents something larger than just the local campus social scene. It’s because nowadays, the obscure-dive-next-door is what we want, because that is what we define as the most genuine experience.

Maybe I should go to Lion’s Head next.

Anne Steele is a Columbia College sophomore. Weighted Perspectives runs alternate Mondays.

To respond to this column, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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move02cap posted on

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Anonymous posted on

thoughtful. and accurate.

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Anonymous posted on

You sure you want to publicly brag about how you presumably entered a bar with a fake ID and drank underage?

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Anonymous posted on

She didn't use a fake dood. She just knows the right people.

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Jewish Person posted on

it's the dimples, man.

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hotbakingpenny posted on

Anne, your articles are always such a delight to read—you have one of the best writing styles I've seen from a op-columnist in a while. I anticipate reading more great stuff from you throughout the semester.

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Anonymous posted on

Wow. The usual Spectator op-eds must reeeeeeeeaally leave much to be desired. The writing itself (barring the crap content) is hs sophomore level AT BEST...

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Anonymous posted on

Like, no. Just seeing "Urban Outfitters," "indie bands," and "hipsters" all used in the same sentence made me cringe.

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Anonymous posted on

Or it's just unpretentious, cheap, and people I hang out with are there..........

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Anonymous posted on

1020 is just a normal bar, except there are lots of students there, which makes it a normal near-college-campus bar. Its the heights that's weird - I mean there's a much more wtf type crowd there. If the heights is your 'normal' and 1020 is hipster and authentic because it doesn't use plastic cups, then I think going out on Morningside has given you a very limited idea of what bars are like. Going to 1020 has nothing to do with a search for authenticity or individuality, it has to do with a search for a normal bar around here.

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Anonymous posted on

Hmm. I reckon this article is the reason 1020 just got baited, raided, & fined by NYPD just 30mins ago. Expect to be carded ALWAYS from here on out no matter "who you know". Y'all can thank Anne (and her editors) for the strict lines tonite & from here on out, kiddies!

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Anonymous posted on

Yeah, because the NYPD totally read this *and* took the time to look up how old she is.

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Anonymous posted on

Listen, you stupid asswipe, the NYPD doesn't *need* to verify how old she is. All they needed to do to set up a sting is a reasonable suspicion that the bar is serving underage patrons. In this case they saw 1) op-ed bragging drinking at the bar, 2) written by a sophomore. They made the logical inference that sophomores are under 21. Anne Steele, you can go f*ck yourself.

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Andrea García-Vargas posted on

And the world will go on. Just to the Heights. Or drink in your own dorm room. You will live.

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hotbakingpenny posted on

*Just go

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Anonymous posted on

YES! Pleeeeease go to The Heights! Or anywhere ELSE...

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Anonymous posted on

Great, so you retard undergrads have "reclaimed" the bar from the grad students (anger implies membership) and now ruined it for all of us. Congratulations: there's a reason why you're not trusted with real responsibilities until you graduate.

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Anonymous posted on

No wonder this person couldn't get into Columbia undergrad. Do they not realize that those same undergraduates built the authoritative newspaper they're commenting on?

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Anonymous posted on

LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE. LOOK.

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Anonymous posted on

You guys are f**king retarded. Where does it say anywhere that she needed a fake ID? Where does it say she is underage? The amount of students that take gap years and are indeed 21 when they are sophomores is sufficient enough for the NYPD not to assume they are letting people in underage just because they read an article online about a sophomore drinking at a bar. I can guarantee you Anne's article had nothing to do with it. The NYPD does not give a flying f*ck about columbia spectator. They have larger problems to deal with. I'm glad you can act all tough behind a computer with an anonymous name "google". Why dont YOU go f*ck yourself since you apparently have nothing better to do then talk sh*t on a keyboard? Who gives a f*ck about 1020, no one goes there anyway....

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Anonymous posted on

Hahahahaha! NO ONE'S as riled up as "Austin"!

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Anonymous posted on

It's clear that she thinks she knows how to write but really she's just infuriatingly wordy vacuously boring.

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Anonymous posted on

Thanks for fucking up my 1020 experiences. You've just ruined all of my future weekends.

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