The grandeur of an American game day is nothing like we know to experience back home. In comparison, I don’t think we’ve had anything quite as big, which shuts down a city, since the 2012 London Olympic Games.
The days tend to start off hours before the game. Me and almost all of the other 30,000 students are down town, about a ten-minute walk away from the stadium “tailgating”. Despite its original meaning being of people drinking and cooking out the back of their trucks, it basically means everyone getting pissed in any space possible local to the stadium. We were in a huge Tailgate lot, no cars in site, which the fraternities had set up and paid for.
The entrance was surrounded by police and security, making it daunting and leaving us wondering whether we were in the right place, but as you walk in It’s like a mini festival, with the fraternities giving out free beers from midday onwards. The funny side of it, is that the Americans are so strict on underage drinking, and the police presence was so obvious, yet underage drunken sorority girls are falling all over the place, trying to twerk on rich fraternity boys in the hopes of getting engaged before their senior year. The most absurd thing was how dressed up these girls were, considering they’ll go to bars and clubs in shorts and a t-shirt. Yet for game day they’re in dresses, gregarious earrings, full faces of makeup and either cowboy boots or heels… picture all of this on a dirty pitch where beer is getting thrown into the air, to the point where writing this the next day, all I can smell is the yeast fermenting further in my hair. In fact, the only difference from a U.K. festival is that it’s not piss in my hair instead. The only way that the university has attempted to tackle the amount of sorority freshman who end up in the hospital each year, is by forcing the fraternities to offer food alongside the free booze – least to say, I was in my element.
By the time it got to 6:30 and we left the tailgate… we were fucked. 9 English girls waddling along to the stadium, walking along the train track following the crowd of black. It looked like some ritual rite, a movement of a great crowd onto something better. It was reminiscent of the poor and their movement east, towards California, walking along the railroads and the easiest route.
Once the size of the stadium, and the 80,000 people at least half dressed in black for “Black Out Kentucky” we somehow found seats. The grandeur of the opening was wasted on so many who seemed to plan to turn up after it to avoid the crowds and even though South Carolina apparently puts on one of the biggest entrances in the country. People piled everywhere they could to get the best seats, some even chose not to find their seats and piled on the rim of the slopes to get the best view.
But it’s all taken so seriously, unfortunately I couldn’t be put into the lower deck (a.k.a. student zone) and was put into the upper deck which was a mix of student tickets and paying people. The university put everyone at random seats so the whole thing was chaos but what struck me was how the southern hospitality instantly disappeared at the game. We sat on two empty seats, which were free until after the beginning of the first quarter until the rudest man demanded we moved otherwise he’d call security. Then elsewhere a woman happily put her feet onto my seat, from hers behind then when I asked her to move them politely, she was rude once more. The south is a strange place. I’m all for moving when people have paid for seats etc, but common courtesy seems to go at the oddest of times, the times when if anything is brits can be at our politest. But I have far more to say at another time on the misconceptions of the wider world in South Carolina.
The day was reminiscent of my time in Myrtle beach, with the added mental attitude of cultural nationalism of South Carolina. Everywhere you looked there were logos of the University, or girls with “cocks” embezzled on tops or necklaces. The spirit was something of Euphoria all over, even I started to feel a sense of pride that I’m at one of the best places I could’ve chosen in America. Even though the common strict rules of the south seemed to go out the window, the sense of happiness which lifts you up on a daily basis in South Carolina was magnified. I can’t wait for the next game day.