Tag Archives: drinking game

St. Patrick’s Day Southside Chicago

In South Side Chicago there is a major parade that occurs every St Patrick’s Day, and it is an unwritten rule that you have to dress up, even further than just green. Most of the community shows up and camps out to go to the parade, bar hop, and hang out — similar to a block party (except it is a long main street). Throughout the day, the song “Rattlin’ Bog” is played over speakers, through bagpipes, phones, etc. For this tradition, you gather in a circle and “pass the torch” of drinking either your own drink, or an Irish liquor that is passed around. The game is that you drink throughout each section of the song and as the song continues, the section gets longer, making it difficult if you happen to be the last person. This is played every year, and multiple times throughout the day; all different ages participate, and even kids play their own version if they are too young to drink. The informant explained this is a very important part of this area of town, particularly because of the Irish population

Context – St Patrick’s Day is a massive celebration among everyone, but particularly Irish individuals who feel extra umph to celebrate a day tied to their nation-state. As there is a major party, parade, and well documented celebration in Ireland itself, the Irish population of Chicago feels compelled to also celebrate big and embrace their heritage on Saint Patrick’s day. This occurs in a predominantly Irish area of the city and serves as a way to come together and celebrate Ireland/Saint Patrick.

Analysis – The Chicago celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day can be simplified as a way in which individuals with Irish heritage can grasp on to their past lineage and embrace “their land” although being removed from that specific area. There is a sense of pride for Irish participants in the St Patrick celebration. Particularly in Chicago, this celebration creates a wide sense of community and is a deeply practiced event as there are ways for people of all different ages, backgrounds, and identities to be able to participate in the vast moments of celebration.


Text: (the drinking game known as “quarters”).

Context: My informant learned the game “quarters” from the older members of his fraternity at UCI about 30 years ago. He and his fellow pledges played the game very often before social gatherings. In the game, players try to bounce a quarter off of a table and into a short glass of hard liquor; if a player succeeds, the next player must drink the contents of the glass. My informant now has passed the game onto younger generations of drinkers.

Analysis: The game of quarters hails from the ancient Greek game of “Kottabos,” in which players would toss sediment remaining in their wine glasses onto a plate in order to make other players drink. After years of evolution in European pubs, my informant played the modern game. The game stems from a tradition of drinking, which is also prevalent in the Greek Life system at universities in America. I interpret the game as a method by which one gets drunk quickly in a social setting, and it is more typical in pregames than in the main social event or afterparties.  

Beer Pong Blowing

“I watched my upperclassmen doing this at my first college parties.  After they dip their ping pong balls into the water before their turn, they would blow on it, and have nearby spectators blow on it too… apparently it’s supposed to coat your ball with good luck.  More like germs, but I don’t know… It’s pretty much counterintuitive to the part where you dip it in the water in the first place.”

Background: The informant is a college student who has witnessed others performing the gesture of blowing on one’s ping pong ball prior to taking a shot in the game.

Context: This superstition was shared with me over FaceTime.

These rituals are reminiscent of the arbitrary “strategies” that schoolchildren come up with that they swear will help secure victory in a meaningless game.  The informant goes to school in a different region of California, yet this strategy is still consistent with what I’ve seen people do at USC; I don’t know how such a custom of blowing on a ping pong ball was spread across college communities.  There also isn’t any kind of online information that confirms this as a phenomenon in the general college community, so it is also unclear whether this strategy even exists outside of a certain geographical radius.


Background: The informant loves games of all sorts: board games, drinking games, card games. He thinks they are a great way to be social, be involved and do something active with friends, so people aren’t passively on their phones.

KD: Battleshots is a large scale drinking version of the classic game Battleship. When we played we converted a ping pong table and some bed sheets into a Battleship game board, so on each side of the ping pong table we made a grid exactly the same as the Battleship. And using 2x4s we made larger versions of the game pieces and drilled holes in them so you could drop a shot glass in each spot. So, the aircraft carrier had five shots on it. The destroyer had four shots. The little petrol boat had two shots. It’s exactly like the game but with alcohol. So, we put a thick bed sheet in between the two sides of the ping pong table so you couldn’t see your opponent’s side. You orient your table however you want. And, different from the board game, we created sea mines, or something, it’s, we had some name for the, but, on your ships you had shots with whiskey, or tequila, or your alcohol of choice; in these sea mines we’d put a reed solo cup with beer or seltzer or wine or something and during game play, it’s, B4 hit, alright B7 hit and then your fill out, you sunk my battleship, whatever, uh, but, every time the other person hit your boat you took the shot that was in the place and you drink. In the event they call out sea mine coordinates, or like C12, somebody standing by the table would take that red solo cup filled with beer, hand it over to the other side, and the person calling the shot would need to drink it. Gameplay cannot continue until that solo cup is finished. Some games we’d play with seven sea mines, some games we’d play with one sea mine. And each player had a grid on, er, a little piece of paper with a grid so they can track where they were calling and how they were hitting, bu, otherwise it was identical to the classic board game… with alcohol.

Me: Do you think other people play this?

KD: Oh, yeah. It’s now on Pinterest but we were playing this a long time ago. It’s kinda like large Jenga; now it’s everywhere but we don’t know if wee invented it we just didn’t see it anywhere else

Context of the performance: This was told to me during an in person conversation.

Thoughts: It’s interesting that the informant and his friends though they were the first to come up with it. I had never heard of it so when they explained that now it’s all over Pinterest and has become popular, we can see that it exists in multiplicity. The concept itself is intriguing since it takes an existing game and transforms it into a drinking game. Their invention of a sea mine sounds similar to certain other drinking games, like Rage Cage, that have an exception cup that is completely full to a different gameplay otherwise in the form of shots are slightly filled cups. The red solo cup itself is so closely tied to drinking games that its use here makes a lot of sense.

King’s Cup: Drinking Game

Background: DL is a childhood friend of mine who grew up in Long Beach, California before moving up north to attend college in Washington. He a transgender man in his early twenties and lives in an eight-person household with roommates that all identify as LGBTQ+.

Context: King’s Cup is one of DL’s favorite drinking games. This particular instance of King’s Cup was celebrated on DL’s birthday with about ten schoolmates/friends/roommates of DL, shortly before the COVID-19 Stay-at-Home orders were put in place. A little while afterwards, he celebrated someone else’s birthday over Zoom due to the COVID-19 stay at home orders. DL expressed sadness over not being able to play King’s Cup at the Zoom Party.

Main text:

(In the following interview the informant is identified as DL and the interviewer is identified as JS.)

DL: It’s like…you put a big cup in the middle of the table and, um, spread a deck of cards around it and you take turns picking a card from the ring of cards around the cup and each number on the card signifies something that you have to do.

JS: Okay

DL: Um…most of them involve drinking or [laughs] something of that context.

JS: Does it change each time or is there a specific ruleset that you used?

DL: There’s like a pretty specific ruleset that people generally use. Although we altered it because it’s pretty gender-specific sometimes

[At this point, DL tried to remember some of the rules but couldn’t recall them off the top of his head. He promised to follow up later with a few examples.]

JS: So, you pull the cards out, you go around the table, and they each have a different related thing on them.

DL: Yeah, um, it’s just like a deck of standard cards. And some of them it’s like you have to pour some of your drink into the big cup in the middle and then at the end, like, the loser has to drink the “King’s Cup.”

JS: [laughs] God, that’s so gross!

DL: [laughs] Yeah, we didn’t actually get that far we all kinda shared it and it was disgusting. Whatever you’re drinking, so that’s, like, the disgusting part. I had like some fancy sambuca from my mom so there was some of that in there, and some beer, and some cider, and some…wine I think. [laughs]

Examples of rules include:

Number two cards are titled “you”: Choose someone to drink

Number three cards are called “me”: The person who drew the card must drink.

The biggest modification A and his friends made to the rules set was for cards five and six—instead of sticking to the gender-exclusive rules of “guys and chicks” where either men or women drink, they changed it to “fags and dykes,” and it was up to the players to choose whether they would drink on the card that was pulled.

Thoughts: King’s Cup is a pretty standard drinking game, like much Beer Pong. Drinking games are a unique way to transform relatively standard American college practices (drinking to excess) into “events,” typically by way of making them game-ified or competitive. As DL explains at the end of the interview, the pretense of rules usually begins to fade as a drinking game goes on—there’s no need to keep on playing once the objective of the game (getting drunk) has been completed. What’s particularly interesting is how DL has customized the game to have certain “house rules”—particularly those for five and six. Some of the people DL lives with are nonbinary, making the guys and chicks rule obsolete. Instead, by customizing it with queer terminology, DL and his friends were easily able to tailor the game to their particular environment. I think it’s also important to note that the words “fag” and “dyke,” though often considered insulting and homophobic slurs, are fairly natural in this context for this group of friends—instead, they function as an insider/in-group joke.