The End of an Era

4 Nov

This weekend, I went up to Manchester, NH to run a half marathon. I went to college at St. A’s in nearby Goffstown, so I know the area fairly well (technically, I know how to get to assorted bars & chain restaurants really well, I just wing it around the rest of Manch-Vegas). Driving from the Expo to the hotel in the pouring rain (I swear we get a Nor’easter the day before every big race I run. I could be a weather girl), I noticed that “The Balls” is gone!

“The Balls” was never called “The Balls” while I was in college. It was called the “Rack ‘Em Up Lounge.” Honestly, I’m not sure if or when it was actually called “The Balls.” Or why, for that matter. Its probably because of the numerous pool tables, or it may be simply because it was just so cool (you know: the balls).

My first trip to The Balls was the first Thursday of Freshman year. I wore jean shorts, sneakers, and a tee shirt I bought from a frat boy. I danced until I was a sweaty pig, and watched my new roommate dance on speakers. Shockingly, I didn’t pick up any guys, and she was pregnant 7 months later.

The Balls was owned by George & Hannah. George had a loud raspy voice, and yelled at anyone who sat on his pool tables or drank too much. Hannah was his wife who swore like a sailor. They were the perfect couple. They were an institution around St. A’s. Career & Employment Services once actually put up signs reading “If you don’t want to end up like George at The Balls, come to CES for career guidance.”

The Balls was huge. It had tons of pool tables that we usually just tried to sit on, two bars, and a dance floor. Oh, and, later on, a sex toy shop where George & Hannah’s dog would nap. They had drink specials, and really strong Long Island Iced Teas. And Thursday was college night, so you could get in if you were under 21 (it probably wasn’t a coincidence that there was always a handful of sketchy locals at the bar on college night). You were supposed to be at least 18, but George only checked your license if you were drinking. He wasn’t happy when I announced to him, three weeks into the school year, that I was turning 18 that night. Oops.

If you were under 21, upon entering at the jacked up cover charge, you received a giant X on each hand, courtesy of an Industrial Sharpie. Those Xs stayed on for days, no matter how hard we tried to wash them off in the bathroom. A quick glance around Chem Lecture on Friday morning would tell you exactly who went out the night before, as the Xs were either still on their hand, or, for the unfortunate few who slept with a hand under their cheek and drooled, on their face.

The Balls was always our fallback Thursday night hangout. Some nights we were dying to go there, especially when a fraternity was hosting the night. We could usually convince the DJ to play Madonna for us if we knew him. And you could always count on hearing “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” There was a Dunkies and an ATM that gave money out in singles next door. It was the perfect place for a bunch of Catholic college kids with hard classes and no boys allowed in their rooms to unwind after a long week of Humanities Seminar.

So, now a St. A’s institution is gone. And I’m left to wonder: where will college kids go to drink underage? Is there somewhere else they can shamelessly grind with co-eds on the dance floor? What parking lot will frat boys use to beat the crap out of each other after a night of drinking? Are George and Hannah happy? Did they open a bigger sex toy shop? I may never know.

Farewell, Rack ‘Em Up Lounge.

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