Aboredeen

29Sep08

Speaking of street festivals, I went to Queen’s Homecoming this weekend. One of the big highlights of Homecoming is the big football game, as though I can wake up early enough for a one o’clock kickoff time. The game never really interested me, even if you do get to charge the field at the end, which you don’t anymore. As I explained to the lady running the cash register at a convenience store around the corner from the stadium, I didn’t bother with the game because it was kind of rainy. “I’ll probably just get really drunk, flip a car over, set something on fire, and maybe kill somebody,” I said.

This is basically what Queen’s Homecoming has become: the Aberdeen Street Party. When I was in school, it didn’t have capital letters. You’d just hear, “Hey, there’s a kegger over on Aberdeen.” But over the last decade, various parties grew together to the point that 7000 revellers crammed into a short, two-block street this year, and in 2005, a car got flipped over and set ablaze, giving the event the notorious reputation that gets it covered in national newspapers as civil unrest.

But I use the word “revelers” loosely. It turns out it’s not much of a riot — there are always going to be incidents, but the massive police presence keeps things in check — and it’s not even much of a party. It’s like a concert without the music, like a food festival without food. There’s literally nothing to do but gawk at the spectacle, force your way from one end to the other through the packed crowd, and then go try to find something better to do. It’s a letdown.

But worse, it seems to have siphoned all the clientele out of the campus pubs. Looking for something better to do? You’ll have more luck at the local Burger King. Clark Hall Pub, which I mentioned during my previous visit to Kingston, was closed and dark on Saturday night of Homecoming weekend, though it was open for Ritual earlier in the day. (I at least got to wander over to the offices of my old campus rag, where I met the current business manager, who produced that plaque I also mentioned, which — note to fellow oldtime editors — hasn’t been updated in the last decade, let alone rehung.) The other two main campus pubs were open but almost completely empty.

It’s a shame. The campus pubs used to be the place where alumni could go to get drunk and randomly run into old friends or at least bond with dimly recognized old faces. And it was the place for current students to network with and be bought drinks by creepy old alumni. You can’t do that in a mob cramming thousands of people into a small street. You can’t circulate. You can’t see anything but the back of the head of the guy in front of you. And there’s obviously alcohol around somewhere, but you can’t really get at it. It’s not even a kegger anymore; the local authorities banned the sale of kegs to anyone without a licence this year.

According to doomsayers and actual policymakers, the Aberdeen Street Party is a threat to the future of Queen’s Homecoming. But it’s not because it’s violent or riotous or dangerous. It’s because it’s boring.



One Response to “Aboredeen”


  1. 1 Take off your old Queen’s sweater « Man vs. Clown!

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