We went to a ‘Covid-safe’ sports night and this is what happened
Yep – Baywatch is dead
Sports night: Sneezing, coughing, and spitting on each other all night long. It feels like a distant memory.
Guy’s Bar is famous for hosting a mishmash of all GKT sports teams, drunk medics and the odd KCL student who managed to sneak in for a wild Wednesday night. Rugby boys demolishing pints of snakebite (and throwing up said snakebite yards away) while hockey girls sing shrill songs to horrified freshers. A fair few bemused veterans, who really should know better, looking on at the carnage.
2018/19 BC (before Corona) was the last year we saw this kind of bacchanal regularly, and boy do we miss it. This year, face masks are the new Fresher challenges, snogging has become six to a table, and vomit in the toilets has been replaced by vigorous social distancing.
We went to Guy’s Bar sports night the first two Wednesdays it has been open, and this is your definitive guide on how it matches up to the BC times.
The Queue – 9/10
Long gone are the days when 100 sweaty punters could experience a sardine simulator as the queue grew to extraordinary lengths across the quad well before 7pm. The new system sensibly requires you to buy your tickets in advance online, and there is a register at the front to check names for sports teams who are given specific time slots to enter. If you’ve got your ticket then expect an efficient 10-minute wait. Turning up ticketless with your trusty £1 coin to wager for entry – hit the road, Jack. We much prefer this smart, speedy system to how it used to be.
The Bouncers – 8/10
The new rules mean whenever you are away from your table you have to wear a mask, something we applaud. For all the stick they get, the bouncers did a pretty good job keeping everyone safe and getting us to leave as small groups in a staggered fashion when the night came to a close.
The Bar Staff – 6/10
The Guy’s Bar staff are infamous for their chaotic energy, bringing the party to GB long before you’ve forced a full pitcher of ribena-coloured liquid down your gullet. Unfortunately, the experience is fairly sterile – table service is the new norm, and it is impossible to approach the plastic-screen covered bar. Service is speedy and delivered with (what I hope was) a smile behind the mask. They’re doing a brilliant job in the circumstances, but it’s just not the same as seeing your server down a shot with you and twerk behind the bar.
The Atmosphere – It’s just not the same/10
Prior to Covid the sports team rule was: No talking to the opposite sex before 9pm or being at risk of eating a full clove of garlic and having ‘FLANGE’ marked on your forehead for eternity. After the BC era, by entering GB you are signing a non-verbal contract agreeing to sit with the five other people you came in with for the entire night, avoiding anyone else like the (literal) plague. To address the elephant in the room, yes drunken hookups have been decimated and the dancefloor eradicated.
Smokers’ Area – ???/10
The smokers’ area has a mythical status. A kind of pocket dimension where you could speak to the unfortunate souls who are stuck in the queue, while having the satisfaction of being inside the venue. I don’t smoke so didn’t find out what happened to this mini-purgatory. However, a fresher on my table left for outside with the quest of ‘catting a blem’ and he came back reeking of nicotine, so I can only imagine it is alive and in good nick.
Baywatch – I’LL BE THERE-EEE!/10
Hot take: This strange GB tradition is far more weird than good. To the dismay of perverts across campus, there was no official public display of nudity at midnight. Either way they did sneak in the Baywatch theme at 9pm(!) – there was a bit of shouting but luckily everyone kept their tops on.
The drinks – 7/10
Table service means that each table has a scannable QR code directing you to a website where you buy your drinks. It’s very cut and dry, and probably an improvement on queuing awkwardly by the bar for 20 minutes watching people go in and out the toilets. Quite interestingly, one particular member of the cricket team received an email that explained he won a full round of tequila shots for the accolade of “spending the most in Guy’s Bar on a Wednesday”. So the lesson here is: If you spend all your money on alcohol, you might be rewarded with… more alcohol.
The Toilets – 8/10
Photo from Instagram: @livivosper
Ah, the GB toilets. Everyone who goes to Sports Night knows the real motive happens in the toilet. Update yourself on all the gossip and find out who snogged who by the sinks while you keep a keen eye out for security. Traditionally, the toilet is another social space, greeting you with lewd graffiti hastily scrawled by a rugby boy in black Sharpie. The experience was a lot cleaner when we went, and as only two are allowed away from a table at any one time, a lot less crowded. Also, this may have been the first time there was no fresher to be seen vomiting in the cubicles.
The 10pm Finish – 7/10
Hmmm. Not an ideal situation, as the drunk dancing to cheesy tunes after 9pm is a big part of Sports night. There is no dimming of the lights and progression to the dance floor with a laser focus on top chirpse, as it used to be. But, any sports night is better than no sports night, and at least now there’s no way you can miss the last tube.
It was never going to be the same as the old Guy’s Bar experience, and the wildest parts have been toned down and the edges softened. Yes, we miss out on the dancing and the drunk antics, but who can complain in the circumstances.
The true meaning of Sports Night is to get together with your mates and let your hair down. The beating heart of GKT is still very much palpable under the restrictions, and it’s still the cheapest place in central London to get smashed.
Overall: 8/10. For all the new rules and regulations, our beloved Wednesday Sports Night is still more classy than (shudder) Dover Castle.
* Featured image taken in September, prior to new rules about between-household mixing.