Once a year, there comes a time in a UGA student’s life that most would liken to Christmas — or, at least, whatever would be the booziest calendar holiday for any given person. It’s a weekend like no other, so epic and so integral to the University student schedule that administrators finally decided to incorporate it into an annual fall break.
It is, quite simply, Georgia-Florida.
Allow me to elaborate:
Labeled universally as “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party,” GA/FL is (for those few who might not know) a football game held in Jacksonville between UGA and UF, where fans tailgate quite literally throughout miles and miles of the city.
(I personally think the whole “Cocktail Party” thing is a bit of a misnomer, since for frat daddies and sorority girls the choice beverage is usually some sort of borderline toxic Taaka-Faygo concoction that could hardly be called a cocktail, but hey. It does its job, right?)
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is as much of a spectacle as it is — pardon my French, but respect my accuracy — a shitstorm. As rowdy fans binge on booze for breakfast and lunch, calling the Dawgs or doing the [gulp] Gator Chomp aggressively as opposing fans stroll by, the weekend transcends the game itself. It becomes something much larger than the color-coded stadium: both a giant block party and a showdown of sorts, a contest of pride and a quest for bragging rights between the schools for students and alumni alike.
See, even though we’ve only taken the trophy three times in the past decade, the Georgia-Florida match-up remains a deep-seated rivalry because it’s also about the fans. And in the GA/FL fan contest, I’d say UGA wins every year. Not only can Georgia fans paint “Florida girls do the Chomp but give the Clap” on their cars, but they can also maintain about a certain degree of classiness, namely in dress, that Florida fans consistently fail to match.
Need I say more? Even if we’re distraught about the game, we can still use it as an excuse to gawk at and photograph these bougie-looking folks wearing the UF school colors: blue, orange, and denim. The Gators love their jorts, and a Georgia fan will never fail to remind them of that fact.
Some who root for Georgia will even train their kids early:
And at the end of the day, though — win or lose — we Georgia fans can always brag that we’re the ones who get to go back to Athens.
For those of us who also identify as members of the Greek community, GA/FL is even more than this beloved Cocktail Party. For us, there’s a big something special that comes over the same weekend: Frat Beach. Milledge Avenue (UGA’s Greek Row) transports itself to St. Simon’s Island for the weekend, and on the Friday before the game things get weird.
A miles-long stretch of beach becomes a day-long frat party (hence the aptly given “Frat Beach” title), where many students lose their cell phones, wallets, cameras and dignity to the sand and ocean.
Local police do nothing but maintain decorum and prevent glass from entering the premises while frat guys, sorority girls and GDIs who want to witness Frat Beach glory socialize and drink adult fun juice. Some, especially pledges, don Halloween costumes; many layer over bathing suits; a handful of girls dress cute; most wear whatever zany outfit they could piece together for the daytime occasion. Music blares and juice flows ’til high tide drives crowds onto dry land where, after a brief nap, those same crowds will head to the bars.
If you’re a n00b, here’s my Frat Beach checklist:
- Statement shirt, preferably a tank top (this year, I’ll don my “Red Hair Don’t Care” tank)
- Chug jug
- Sorority/fraternity coozie
- Cooler (with a 6-pack of canned beer + whatever fixins you can’t fit in the chug jug)
- Cheap sunglasses — leave the Ray Bans at the hotel, ’cause you’ll lose ’em!
- Backwards hat or bandana
- Directions back to your hotel. Or at least the address. Maybe written on your body.
- An alarm on your phone (if you haven’t lost it yet) for when high tide is supposed to hit
- Sunscreen, if you’re a ginger like me
Georgia-Florida is a weekend-long party, a celebration of school pride and a rite of passage. It makes the UGA experience, and it certainly doesn’t hurt our party school reputation. So to those attending GA/FL and Frat Beach this year, both newbies and veterans alike, I’ll leave you with this:
Godspeed. Go Dawgs. And see ya there!