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I’m 21, and, unlike many of my fellow peers, I actually waited until I was of age to have my first alcoholic drink. You can say I was straight-edge until I was 21. I did have a pisco sour in Peru though, but that was only because 18 is the legal drinking age there. It actually wasn’t hard at all to wait, and I’m thankful I did because I feel like now I enjoy going out more.

I turned 21 on February 14, and it was a blast. Downtown is pretty fun with the right group on the right day. It’s also packed during the school year because of all the NAU students. I did wonder, before the semester ended, if the downtown bar scene would die down over the summer without the college kids, but alas, it just evolved to fit the miniscule student population and Flagstaff locals.

One of the popular places for college students is Collins Irish Pub & Grill. The employees clear the tables to open up the floor for dancing and around 11 p.m. people start to get loose. In the beginning, there are some people who are timid to dance, but usually you just need one brave person to start the trend. Another popular place for students is the Market Bar and Kitchen, formally known as Monsoon. The Market is packed most of the time, but I think that’s what gives it its charm. Personally, I like the Market the most because of the good music and how many people are there.

There’s also The Lumberyard, which offers mostly country music and dancing. The best part, though, is the yard jars. They are around $6 and are huge. I’ve seen more Flagstaff locals at The Lumberyard than any other place. There are some locals who hang out at Collins too. I love seeing couples on date nights who take on the dance floor on Friday nights. Many of the breweries downtown, especially on First Fridays, are lively with students and locals alike.

I’m so glad that summer didn’t kill the bar scene downtown.

Some nights, downtown is quiet, but there is always fun to be had even if the bar scene is kind of dead. The Mayor is a good place if you just want to chill and drink. Although, mostly students go there. There are some wine lofts, like FLG Terroir Wine Bar & Bistro and Blendz Wine Bar if wine is more of your thing, and I see more locals around these types of places compared to student favorites. Sometimes just hanging out with friends outside and having a couple of drinks somewhere is the perfect night.

As always, in order to have a fun night there are some ground rules that everyone should follow, young or old. First, make sure that you are going out with a good group. Nobody will have fun if there is a Negative Nancy in the group or people who just don’t vibe with each other.

Second, especially with women, it’s always good to have someone who will go with you to the bathroom and will go with you to the bar to get a drink. Or, even better, to make sure that unseemly guys don’t dance on you.

I think everyone should have a buddy to curve any bad juju.

Third, drink water! Staying hydrated is crucial in order to not have a bad morning the next day. Ideally, people should be drinking one glass of water after every alcoholic drink they have.

And to the Flagstaff locals who are annoyed by college students who are a little too loud while they’re out downtown, don’t you remember when you were in your 20s?

Ariel Cianfarano is the managing editor of The Lumberjack, Northern Arizona University's student newspaper. College Chronicles aims to connect FlagLive! readers to various aspects of campus life.

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