Features Deputy Editor, Heather Jeffrey, talks about her experience having a night out with her family while on lockdown. She exhibits how students can experience a BOP while staying safe in their household.
It’s Friday night.
It’s been a long and arduous week one. I’ve worked hard, I’ve been organised, I’ve managed to survive numerous Teams classes and spent a minimum of six hours each day continuously staring at my computer screen.
But now it’s Friday night and I’m ready to let off some steam. I need to do something else, something more than just going for a walk on the beach or watching trash TV. But what else is there? Sally has told us that we aren’t allowed to go out, we have to stay home, the Union is closed, there is nothing going on. Friday night is cancelled.
I shut my laptop and head through to the living room. On the door there is a colourful homemade poster with drawings of popcorn and cameras and written in sparkly glitter pen are the words “Movie Night BOP”. Inside there are decorations hanging from the ceiling, filled popcorn tubs on the table, a movie-soundtrack playlist blasting from the speakers. My flatmates are all sat around the kitchen table, drinking cocktails and perfecting their eye-makeup, each dressed up as a character from their favourite film.
(I’d like to quickly add for any Freshers who don’t know what the BOP is, it’s basically a cheesy mess which happens in the Student’s Union every Friday night where you’d probably run into everyone you know from that person you hooked up with in Freshers’ Week to your French tutor.)
I know it might seem a little ridiculous, but how many of us would normally pay £3 each week to experience a worse version of what I’ve just described? And, frankly, I had a great night. It had all the elements of the perfect night out: dancing and singing along to classic BOP tunes, deep emotional heart-to-hearts, drunk food (consisting of pot noodle at the kitchen table) and that one person getting way drunker than everyone else and making a fool of themselves.
This isn’t the first ‘Stay at Home’ night out I’ve had either. The first happened at the beginning of lockdown in April when I was living at home with my family. We came up with the idea of doing a pub crawl around the house and turning each of the rooms into a different bar. The rules were simple: each person had to pick a room, come up with a theme and a name, decorate the room, and provide a signature drink, snack, and game. We would then spend around 45 minutes in each bar, scoring them all out of ten at the end of the night.
The first stop was the garden where my mum had set up fairy lights and hung beach towels from the backs of deck chairs. At ‘Carollas’ (my mum’s name is Carol) we drank Sex on the Beach, toasted marshmallows, and played beach volleyball. Unfortunately, we did swiftly have to head inside since, despite the tropical theme, we do still live in Scotland and it had started to rain.
Next up was my brother. I should add at this point that my brother is 15 and so we did have to provide a soft drink alternative at each of our bars. Despite being underage, however, he managed to make the most delicious Long Island Iced Tea, served alongside pineapple as we played some strange in-person version of an online game he’d recently been playing with his friends.
Everyone then squeezed into my tiny bedroom which I had transformed into a piano bar. In an overwhelmingly sweet episode of the evening, we ate homemade cupcakes and drank Sambuca that I had added glitter and purple food colouring to (not really sure why…)
In the kitchen, my sister served us Mojitos, which were essentially straight rum with some ice, and I’d say this is where we all really started to feel the effects of the crawl. We played a very entertaining game that my sister had created about etymology (which became a rogue interest of my sister’s during lockdown as each evening at dinner she entertained us with new word origins that she had read about that day).
And last, but definitely not least, my dad ended the night by offering us saki and homemade sushi in his Japanese-style karaoke bar in the study. By now, we were all suitably intoxicated enough to sing our hearts out along to a YouTube karaoke playlist, at which point my teenage brother sloped off back to his room, since apparently watching your tipsy parents duet Islands in the Stream is less hilarious when stone-cold sober.
And the night was a massive success, probably because we were all so committed (the competitive nature of the event also played a part I feel) but also because we were all so starved of entertainment and had forgotten what it felt like to have a real-life night out.
Who won? My dad, obviously. Nothing beats sushi and karaoke.
After posting images and videos of our family pub crawl on Instagram, I received many positive responses. A couple of weeks later, three of my friends, enjoying lockdown together in St Andrews, played their own version of the game, recreating popular bars and pubs around the town in their house and garden, complete with a Saints Sports bar in the attic with a pool table and everything.
So, last Friday night I did get to go to the BOP, it was just a little different this year. In many ways, it was better. I didn’t have to worry about where to stash my jacket on arrival, no queues for the bathroom, I never lost my friends, and drunk food was always readily available. And, best of all, it didn’t cost me a penny. Normally on a night out you’d spend the £3 for a BOP ticket, maybe buy a couple of drinks, cheesy chips from Dervish or Empire, and then a taxi home? For our ‘Stay at Home’ BOP, my flatmate bought some cheap party decorations off Amazon and we drank what we had in the cupboards. So we’ve decided to have a BOP jar where we can all pop £3 every time we stay in instead of going out and then maybe by the time we’re allowed back into the real world we’ll have some money saved up to party away.
I know we’ve all had to think outside the box a bit over lockdown to try and find ways to entertain ourselves and maintain some kind of social life. Facetime, Zoom, and Houseparty are great and all, but I’m not sure how many more online quizzes I can take. And after a week of Teams classes and online readings, I just don’t want to be looking at a screen anymore. Instead, I’m here to suggest that rather than lamenting over the friends and family that you don’t have around you, focus on the people that are there. I know that I’m in the lucky position of being good friends with all my flatmates, but even if you don’t know your current household so well, perhaps now is the time. We really are all in this together and I’m sure that your flatmates/housemates/roommates/people in your corridor would enjoy some real-life entertainment as much as you would. Let’s learn to focus on what we do have and appreciate the people around us. Try something new. Be creative. Have fun.