Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Beer Blasts - 1980s & 90s

The beer blasts of the 60s and 70s were very different than the more recent blasts.  Changes in the drinking age caused a series of changes to blasts, with them ending completely in 1993. For more photos visit the Beer Blast album on the Potsdam Greeks United Facebook page.
September 13 1980 at AXP with Zeta: "Blasting from A to Z"
In 1980 the town of Potsdam first discussed banning beer blasts.  Village residents, fraternity and sorority members turned out to express their opinions at a meeting.  Clarkson's Inter-Fraternity Council proposed changes to beer blast permits including a maximum sound level of 100 decibels at 150 feet, having the sponsor provided at least 12 people to patrol the property perimeter at the end of the blast to control behavior of departing attendees, not advertising the amount of alcohol available, offering an adequate amount of non-alcoholic beverages, informing neighbors 48-hours in advance that a blast was going to take place, and holding public meetings each semester to hear feedback and suggestions.  The town voted to ban beer blasts.

Blast t-shirt
In 1981 the New York State Supreme Court overturned the town of Potsdam beer blast ban on a technicality.  In 1982 the New York State Legislature raised the legal drinking age from 18 to 19.
1983

In 1983 a new beer blast ban (banning large outdoor gatherings in the village limits) proposal was defeated by the Potsdam Village Board of Trustees in a 4-to-1 vote.  The town instead decided to work within existing laws to get more control over the noise and public drunkenness issues.
1985
On November 9, 1985 the last "old style" (where the host provided the beer) beer blasts was held at Tau Epsilon Phi with over 4,500 people attending, two bands and 250 kegs.
The New York Legislature raised the drinking age from 19 to 21, effective December 1, 1985.  Greeks continued to hold beer blasts but attendees had to bring their own beer and IDs were checked.  I can recall the police coming to check the sound level at our Omega beer blasts in the late 80s/early 90s, and we didn't always have the volume low enough.
late 1980s
Fall 1989 at Omega, with Phi Kap CU: "Return of General Anesthesia"
1989 at Psi Phi: Stuporfest
In 1993 the Town of Potsdam voted to ban beer blasts, limiting this social and fund raising event to Houses located on commercially zoned property or outside town limits.  Clarkson does not allow their recognized Houses to hold beer blasts, so that leaves Zeta Gamma Sigma as the only House that can host a blast.  I was active from 1988-1991 and these were a huge source of funds for Omega and other houses.  An old Omega alumni newsletter says the Fall '92 blast made $8,000 - funds that were used for necessary (and often required by the inspector) improvements to the House.

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