My first Oxford crewdate

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Image description: an array of red plastic party cups for imbibing cheap wine such as Echo Falls

This time two weeks ago I would’ve been hard pushed to explain to you what on earth an Oxford Crewdate entails: a social bonding experience? an opportunity for members of a crew to pair off into a blind date? In terms of Oxford socials, all I had to go on was The Riot Club and I was really praying it didn’t closely resemble any of that. Top tip: maybe don’t watch The Riot Club the week before freshers’. It’s somewhat scarring.

But as freshers’ week drew to a close and the impending doom of actual work crept up on me, I chose to take advantage of the time I had left to live my best life and jumped headfirst into the college football crewdate. My college mum was also organising it, so I’d really be doing myself a disservice by saying no.

Top tip: maybe don’t watch The Riot Club the week before freshers’.

From the very outset, it was a slightly intimidating affair. According to the nature of most football-related activities, there is an unfortunate gender split and so I very quickly came to realise I was the only female fresher. Not to worry. I managed to strike up a conversation with other members of our party as we started the short walk to Jamal’s, the ‘restaurant’ of choice for this evening.

The first thing I got right was choosing the seat next to the wall. Though it involved some slightly awkward manoeuvring to get there, it later paid dividends during the various ‘last to touch the wall’ attempts – a.k.a ‘Gecko!’ – throughout the evening. The next saving grace was that I’d had my college family lunch earlier that day. Instead of succumbing to the ill-informed judgements of the other freshers around me, I was aware that it would be prudent to only fill my cup up one finger width. RIP the guy next to me who was forced to down his full cup of wine at the first suicide sconce.

Said sconces were our baptism of fire. After coming to terms with the new vocabulary being thrown around (I’m glad the person who started saying ‘never have I ever’ came before me – that was almost my first embarrassment of the night!) we were now faced with the task of coming up with something humiliating but not so humiliating that you’d have to hide your face around college for the rest of the year.

The evening slowly dripped on like an upturned bottle of Tesco’s Pinot Grigio.

After that, the weight seemed to be lifted from us freshers. In quick succession, I learned a lot about the other second and third years as they all started sconcing each other. I couldn’t tell you who was who, but I know for sure that a lot of people at that table seemed to have shagged each other at one point or another. It was all fairly breezy until someone put a shoe on their head and all hell broke loose. I soon gathered that it would be safer to spend the night with one shoe in my lap.

The evening slowly dripped on like an upturned bottle of Tesco’s Pinot Grigio, interrupted only by the arrival of some onion bhajis and lemon rice. There was a slight rumble as more people arrived and the restaurant staff kicked up a fuss. I can’t say I followed any of what happened next since all of my attention was focussed on drinking only with my left hand.

As with most social events, the more everyone drank, the better it got. Soon enough I was working with those around me to land pennies in the drinks of the captains at the centre of the table, though with limited success (my aim really isn’t great at the best of times and I think I might’ve hit someone in the face…).

After many sconces and countless exclamations of ‘shoe’, one of the freshers was sent to the local Co-op to get another bottle of wine. Meanwhile, I was steadily working my way through the one I’d brought (the trick was to take smaller and smaller refills). When we were finally kicked out, I could very much feel the effects of the night thus far. Nonetheless I followed the group to our secondary location – a house party!

We managed to successfully make it down the straight road back to college – not an achievement to be frowned upon, especially in comparison to the guy who woke up in a bush in Cowley.

I still somehow possessed enough critical thinking faculties to know that, if I wanted to make it home in one piece, I should probably curb the flow of drink fairly soon. I’d like to think it was that which motivated me to fill my glass with mostly Fanta when someone offered me.

There was a good atmosphere at the party. I received some very parental advice from some third years I can’t quite remember. At some point, I stumbled outside to meet one of my fellow PPEists (I did try to get through this without mentioning my degree – I can only now apologise). After what I’m sure was some stimulating conversation, we decided it would be a good idea to head back. 

In what was honestly a genuine struggle, we managed to successfully make it down the straight road back to college – not an achievement to be frowned upon, especially in comparison to the guy who woke up in a bush in Cowley.

Of all the Oxford introductions I’ve had so far, the crew date was certainly the most… interesting. Or at least that’s how I described it to everyone curious enough to ask the next day. Although in the immediate aftermath, as I suffered through the worst case of freshers’ flu known to man, my mantra was very much ‘never doing that again’.

Upon recovering from freshers flu, the memory of being ill sits much less prominently in my mind. I’m left with the rose-tinted memories of a great night out, its atmosphere of gentle camaraderie and the underlying sense of mischief. I imagine the entire ordeal is much more enjoyable when not a fresher, but as a first taste, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it.

In fact, I’ll probably be going to one tomorrow.

Image credit: Nico Ismaili via Unsplash

 

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