The following info comes from redacted staff members. Dangers presented by Shooters debt collectors, various angry Key 3 members, and drunken Maryland students mean we had no choice.
Duke kids claim to have invented the phrase “Work Hard, Play Hard.” This is not true, but they make a strong case.
House and apartment parties off East Campus are a big deal freshman year. You’re still in the “This is COLLEGE” mode, so you ignore the tininess of the houses (which, many times, are not passed down between fraternity classes, giving them a temporary feeling), and you ignore the fact that most house parties aren’t really treated as a “final destination." For bros in the know, i.e. non-freshman, they’re extended pregames for the bars. God forbid you ever try to smoke a cigarette outside of a house, by the way; neighbors call the cops at the first sign of a solo cup.
Section parties are also a big deal freshman year, although we hear that administration lockdowns are making them a thing of the past. This is probably for the best—they take the cramped conditions of the house party and shrink them by 100%—but, c'mon, we JUST WANNA PARTY IN GOTHIC BUILDINGS, GAH.
OVERALL: 3 out of 10
Shooters II gained national infamy thanks to the Karen Owen Powerpoint, but it’s long been the standard of Duke nightlife. You say you’re going ironically (there’s a cage and a mechanical bull and it’s sometimes gross), but, c’mon: You’re spending at least two nights a week there for four years straight. It’s clear you've been enjoying yourself. Wednesday night is their Beer Pong Night, a junior year rite of passage. Saturday is Get Sloppy on the D-Floor Night. It would be an understatement to say that regrettable makeouts are common.
Thursday nights are typically saved for Devines, which gets CROWDED indoors and out. It's notably tremendous because, A. You’ll never drink a cheaper tallboy again, and B. You never get frowned at for a 1 a.m. chicken wing order.
For your first three years, these are the only two bars you’ll go to regularly.
Senior year is for brooding. Brooding involves venturing to Alivias, the Joyce, the Fed, and the Pinhook downtown. You will discover that all these bars are vastly superior to dealing with a swarm of blacked-out 18-year-old dudes at Shooters, and you’ll say to your bros, “Hey, maybe we should have done this last year.” It’s crucial to say this a lot.
OVERALL: 7 out of 10
We’ll save the rankings for the long-defunct Juicy Campus, which regrettably conquered the school for years, except to say: The social scene kind of revolves around Greek life. Your parties, your mixers, your nights out. It's definitely possible to go four years without joining a fraternity or sorority, but the school is so small that it's not like doing the same at Penn State. (Where it doesn't matter.)
Within five years, though, the administration will have gutted most of the things Greek life currently gets away with. The two weeks of Rush, which are incredible, could be a casulty.
OVERALL: 6 out of 10
It’s not Arizona State, it’s not UVa. But you know that already. Duke’s looks (for girls and guys, let’s be honest) aren’t great, but there’s a surprising amount of talent congregated in a few sororities and spread among the independents. Be prepared to talk about Daddy's summer place in Southampton. And lie about what boarding school you went to.
OVERALL: 5 out of 10
Sports related raging:
There was a time when Duke had the worst football team in the history of the sport. The Blue Devils were so laughably awful that they spawned something called Tailgate: A way to drink heavily on a Saturday morning, while wearing ridiculous, beer-soaked shit, that ensured you never were making it to the game. It's now gone. In its place came a better football team and, arguably, less fun.
Basketball, of course, is king. (Lacrosse is very popular, too.) A recent national championship spawned the most bball-related raging in the last few years—students don't tend to get excessively drunk before standing in the bleachers, because you literally can't get out to pee.
OVERALL: 7 out of 10
Big schoolwide events/traditions:
Duke's last day of classes celebration, a.k.a. LDOC, is Duke’s No. 1 schoolwide celebration. It’s the kind of day that's tough to truly describe to an outsider: Essentially, Duke spends a ton of money attracting relatively big names to play shows on the main quad (Ludacris, Macklemore, and B.O.B. have all played in recent years), and it gives free reign to its—incredibly spoiled—students to trash the campus in an all-day drinking fiesta. It's not uncommon to hear beers popped in the backs of lecture halls as early as 9 a.m. Many professors actually encourage it. And the concept of an "open container law" is generally ignored.
This year saw maybe the best lineup ever produced. Travis Porter opened, having survived several attempts by "anti-misogynist" students to remove him from the card. With sample lyrics like, "Put it in yo mouth hoe/I'm make it rain call me 'Mr. Dark Cloud' hoe," we’re kind of stunned his place, and "Make it Rain" performance, survived any sort of protest, but there was no bra-burning to be seen. Kendrick Lamar followed with a blistering set heavy on Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City, as well as a nicely-received choice to rock a Quinn Cook jersey.
Here are a few pics that kind of illustrate what goes on at LDOC. Do they do the party justice? Not really. But nothing does.
OVERALL: 10 out of 10
Duke isn’t a state school. There are limitations to the at-times crippling academic pressures. Most students, though, are social, and most want to have fun.
Are there problems with the school? Absolutely. Elitism is rampant, and, with the downfall of Tailgate, among other crackdowns, the school is clearly moving toward more of an Ivy profile than an “Ivy with Drinkers” profile.
But everyone who leaves misses it. And they’re not missing the comp sci lectures.
OVERALL: 7 out of 10