We don’t know about you, but 1020 is Bwog’s favorite bar. Because we love the place so much, we go there a lot and see a lot of weird shit go down. Like fights. So we decided to do an analysis of it.
First of all, I apologize for the poorly done drawing of 1020. Use it as a rough diagram for reference, not an exactly proportional model of how 1020 is structured. I drew it completely from memory, so please cut me some slack.
So then picture this: it’s a Friday night in Morningside Heights. A third of the Columbia student population is at 1020, a third at Mel’s, and a third at home. The group at 1020 is coming from various parties and pregames, and is sufficiently drunk. The ones who aren’t sufficiently drunk are in the process of achieving said state with Long Islands and PBRs. Because a third of the school is here, it’s very crowded. No one can really move around, but everyone is trying to get somewhere, whether that be the back table, the front table, the pool table, or the bar. There is a lot of jostling around and unwanted and unintentional (or intentional, in which case, please leave) touching.
According to Thucydides, humans are motivated by three things: profit, glory, and fear. When a human is inebriated as one tends to be on a Friday night at 1020, the fear factor might decrease a bit. Unless you’re trying to pickpocket a wallet, the profit factor isn’t relevant. The only thing left, then, is glory.
In a crowded bar full of young, hotblooded, angsty college students, when someone rubs against another in an uncomfortably intimate way, or spills drinks on someone, the individual feeling violated may act upon this factor of motivation by shouting, “Hey, watch where you’re going!” or “You just spilled your rum and coke on my Canada Goose!” or “Don’t touch my butt, you fucking creep!” The accused party has to respond something like “Well, fuck you!” in order to appear tough for the sake of glory. Their friends are right next to them, probably in a suffocatingly tight circle, ready to back them up and pounce upon the other person at any moment as necessary. They’re all puffing their chests and sizing each other up. The fear factor decreases more. The adrenaline and blood circulation makes these individuals drunker (I don’t know if that’s true I just made this up).
You might think that this would happen between the booths and the bar, because of the tightly constrained space, but that’s actually not true. This type of altercation happens more in the area in front of the pool table, because that’s where there is a mix of people having settled down on the pool table as well as a lot of foot traffic, often leading to utter chaos. (The drawing makes it look like there’s more room between the bar and the booths, but in reality, there is some space between the pool table and the booths and between the pool table and the bar, so there is more net space there. It’s just also that much more crowded.)
So then these two youngsters start getting pushy. This isn’t very hard, because they’re probably pushed against each other already because of the sheer force of the size of the crowd. That means when one of them pushes the other, because they aren’t being pushed to anywhere, their bodies absorb the full force of the push and makes it feel like a more aggressive push than it might have been. So the pushes start getting actually more aggressive, and the crowd around them is being pushed against the farthest booth (the smaller table with two chairs instead of the sofa thing on both sides) which is very uncomfortable because of the two chairs. Or they’re being pushed against the bar, which might knock over whoever is sitting at the bar and is painful for whoever just got pushed against some edges of the bar stool.
More drinks are spilled on each other, escalating anger. Everyone around them is watching, and people who are farther from them are starting to notice. People sitting at the elevated back table have a good view, and are goading them on from a safe distance by shouting and teasing. People who just came out of the bathroom are confused and annoyed as this fighting crowd pushes them back through the doors and they are trapped in the bathroom. Someone hits a head against the coat rack. The anger is spreading through the crowd. Everyone is shouting at each other. The two people who started the fight now both feel like they have to win; there’s simply too many people watching. They have their homies right behind them for support as well. They are screaming obscenities and threats at each other. Their hands are grabbing each other’s collars.
All this while, it might be worth noting for the sake of our anthropological study that people at the front table have no way of really noticing this fight, because there is a sea of people standing around and pushing up against each other between the long space between the bar and the booths. They are content with their group, drinking their Stellas or whatever. No one is playing darts at this point, and that space in front of the dart is also pretty full. Meanwhile, the bartender is walking around trying to collect empty glasses.
When the fight escalates, the crowd miraculously parts a bit to make way for it, because no one wants angry drunk fighting people’s gross drinks on their jackets. So these two initial angry drunksters have enough space to push each other around and move from where the pool table meets the bar and where it meets the booths. The fight moves around a bit as such, and at this point, the friends who were eager spectators and backups at first are earnestly trying to pull them apart. The bartender trying to collect glasses notices, and threatens to kick them out. It’s too late, though; both of them are too angry. 1020 is now a fight club for the night.
Map of 1020 via Youngweon Lee