BarHop on indefinite hiatus

by Eileen Brady | 11/13/17 2:15am

by Saphfire Brown / The Dartmouth

BarHop, a College-sponsored program that ran from February 2014 through May 2017, is “taking a pause,” according to an email statement from Joshua Kol ’93, director of student performance programs at the Hopkins Center for the Arts. The program, which hosted music events and offered free drinks for students aged 21 or older every Thursday, was a popular social space among older undergraduate students and graduate students.

The program’s weekly social events took place in the three different rooms of the Hop Garage, located in the Hopkins Center, according to Peter O’Sullivan ’19, former resident DJ for the BarHop program.

The first room contained arts and crafts projects that varied week to week, the second had “low-key” music, sometimes hosting bands or other student performance groups and the third, provided a dance club-like environment for participants, complete with lights and a sound system, O’Sullivan said. There were bars in all three rooms.

“[BarHop] was a place for people to drink and dance and socialize outside of the Greek system,” O’Sullivan said. “It really was one of the only places that had a club [or] dance atmosphere that wasn’t a frat. A lot of people have issues with the Greek system, and I think BarHop was a very neutral space, very welcoming, very open to anybody, and it definitely gave a more real, vivid nightlife experience for the older students who could go and drink.”

O’Sullivan was told in the spring that BarHop would be pausing, though he was uncertain about the exact reason. He said his supervisor told him that the spring would be the last term for BarHop.

Kol said the intensity of labor needed for the program and the challenge of sharing the Hop Garage with other programs were the main reasons for pausing the program.

“[BarHop] was a passion project of which we are very proud,” Kol said. “When we started [the program] three and a half years ago, we only intended to pilot five nights and then evaluate what we had accomplished and chart a path forward. As it happened, the excitement led us to simply continue to build and shape the program as we went. Taking a pause now lets us evaluate what we learned from running BarHop, operationally and programmatically.”

In Jan. 2015, BarHop implemented a twice-a-week schedule but returned to its weekly structure in Oct. 2015 due to staffing issues.

Kol said the Hop’s goal is to return arts-infused social programming to Dartmouth in a way that is better integrated into the center’s other programming, the overall arts scene at Dartmouth and the housing community system, which began in fall 2016. He said the process of designing a program like this is in the very early stages and he hopes to have more information as the academic year continues.

O’Sullivan said he perceives the overall reaction to the program’s halting as negative, though the people who would likely be most upset about the hiatus, students 21 or over at the time the program was running, have mostly graduated.

Former BarHop bartender Faith Rotich ’18 said she valued the student leadership and collaboration that went into planning BarHop events, as everyone who worked for the program was able to contribute to programming ideas.

Rotich said that she believes there is still a place for BarHop in the Dartmouth social scene.

“It was such a lovely alternative social space, and I was quite confused by what the administration was trying to do,” she said. “It emphasizes bringing up and maintaining alternative social spaces for students, but at the same time it’s just killing them. I don’t see any active effort on the part of the administration to actually know what the students like and try to maintain those programs.”

Both Rotich and O’Sullivan said that if BarHop were to restart, they would be very willing to resume working for the program.

Rotich is a former member of The Dartmouth staff.