There’s a new party in town, and it happens at one of Five Points’ oldest hotspots.
Each Friday, before the afternoon turns to evening, scores of University of South Carolina students jam Five Points’ legendary dive bar, Group Therapy, for a little pregame throwdown called “Friday After Class.”
The Uber cars begin pulling up at 5 p.m., and groups of (presumably) USC students pop out. Lots of Ubers and lots of young adults.
Guys need predistributed wristbands to get past the bouncers. Ladies don’t need a wristband. And they move to the front of the line.
The parties are organized on social media, right down to the dress code. There was an ugly Christmas sweater party. A Super Bowl party.
But most often, the guys wear sports jerseys, most from pro teams in the Northeast and Midwest.
Many of the women coordinate in skimpy outfits — yoga pants and crop tops, Daisy Dukes and crop tops. On one particularly chilly Friday, the outfit of choice is distressed jeans, jean jackets ... and crop tops.
Some of the (again, presumably) students glance up sheepishly, hopefully, longingly as the doorman checks their IDs. They hustle gleefully in when waved through.
Hip hop and rap music blasts out of the bar. It’s loud. Really loud.
This is not unusual in Five Points. Late night lines and loud music are common. But it’s 5 p.m. The sun is still up. These students have just gotten out of class.
That’s precisely the point.
“Friday After Class” is a new phenomena in the old party district, the brain child of anonymous officers of an anonymous fraternity. The spokesman is Nick Cutro, who’s rocking a Chicago accent and Blackhawks jersey as the party heats up on a February afternoon.
“We didn’t have anything to do on Fridays,” Cutro said, three fellow anonymous frat members peering over his shoulder like meercats, grinning Budweiser grins. “We didn’t know it would get this big.”
And big it is. During the 5 to 6 p.m. crush, college-age students are two deep at the main bar, the boys mostly ordering $3 pitchers of beer and the girls $6 pitchers of Nerds, which is loosely defined by Cutro as “vodka, blue stuff and candy.”
The revelers are cheek to jowl in the mosh pit on the back deck. Beer is spilled, hats are worn backwards and the women are ogled.
All of the bacchanal gyrations are overseen by stern-faced, late-20-something bouncers.
The bar manager is a middle-aged man dressed in coach’s shorts and a T-shirt that reads “Carolina Vs. All Ya’ll.” He shares bartending duties with a young lady dressed for tips.
Owner Steve Taneyhill — yes, that Steve Taneyhill, the once-mulleted Gamecock QB — surveys the crowd.
“Good kids,” he said.
Cutro, ever the consigliere, notes that while this is a raucous party, its in a secure environment. All IDs are checked. Troublemakers or shady characters don’t get in the door.
There is ample security. And no neighbors are disturbed.
“And you know, it’s over at 8:30. So we’re all in bed by 10.”
The three meercats nod quickly in agreement, not a glint of a lie in their eyes.