As the weather begins to get warmer, more and more bobcats partake in Athens’ version of a bar crawl, the “court street shuffle.” Some bars, however, don’t allow shufflers for a number of reasons. 

Earlier this month, 50 people entered Lucky’s Sports Tavern, 11 N. Court St., all wearing mustaches.  

The students were on, as those in Athens like to call it, a “Court Street shuffle” — or a bar crawl. As the weather gets warmer, OU students are more frequently taking part in “shuffling,” an activity which consists of a large group of friends attempting to get a drink at every bar within walking distance.

Tuesday evening marked St. Patrick’s Day, and although students had already reveled in the holiday by participating in Green Beer Day last week, some headed to the bars donned in green to shuffle their way through Court Street.

Most bars in Athens, such as Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, 24 W. Union Street, gladly welcome shufflers.

“It spreads our name; people that maybe didn’t know we were here do now,” said Jess Adami, a bartender at Jackie O’s. “Luckily, we’re (usually) at the beginning of the shuffle so we don’t typically get people that are really inebriated and they can actually be kind of fun.” 

When shufflers are too inebriated, however, they can cause problems and bartenders turn them away. The large nature of the group can also clog up bars for other patrons, said Brent Socie, a bartender at Lucky’s.

“I wouldn’t refuse them because they’re on a shuffle; I’d only refuse it if I can tell I’m one of the last bars and they’ve had too much to drink,” said Socie, who served the group of mustache-themed shufflers.

Shuffles often have themes and costumes. Socie has seen a group of shufflers wearing American flags as togas. Senior Liz Doyle recently went on a shuffle where she and her three roommates wore matching squid hats. Doyle’s group wore t-shirts with every bar listed on the back in Sharpie and crossed off each bar that they bought a signature drink.

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Although she only shuffled with a group of four for her recent “squid” shuffle, for her 21st birthday last year, Doyle traveled with a group of 12 to 15 people.

“I noticed we were much more warmly received when there were fewer shufflers this year than when there was a big crowd of us last year,” Doyle said. “Last year, the guys were determined to write on the walls in every bathroom. This year I think we wrote on a couple walls, but it wasn’t a focal point.”

Vandalizing bathrooms is one of the reasons that Casa Cantina refuses service to all shufflers, who often aren’t too happy about being turned away.

“Shufflers have told me they were going to kick my ass if I didn’t get them drinks, which they never do or will,” said Mike Flynn, a bartender at Casa Cantina. “They always try to convince us they’re not on a shuffle which is hysterical because they’re all (usually) wearing the same shirt with the word shuffle written on it.”

Students agree that shuffling can be more appealing than hanging out at one bar for a night because it opens shufflers up to discovering new drinks and meeting new people.

“I had an aquarium at The Pub for the first time on my shuffle. I had no idea what it was before and had never been to The Pub before the shuffle,” said Taylor Wisnieski,who has been on two shuffles.

Doyle suggests that to safely shuffle, people should remember to drink water throughout the night and eat beforehand.  

“Go with a group that will stick together and recruit other friends to meet you halfway to make sure everyone makes it home safely,” Doyle said. “If the signature drinks are big and your group is starting to struggle, split them up.”

Wisneieski, a senior majoring in communication studies, speculated that the grouping of bars in Athens is what prompts shuffling.

“It’s a lot easier to get to all of them than say on OSU’s campus where their bars are more spread out and it takes them longer to complete a shuffle,” she said.

Socie sums up “shuffling” in four words.

“It’s an Athens thing.”


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