August 29, 2008
The Cavs may be mere hours from getting their heads kicked in by USC, but at least they know how to get appropriately hammered in the meantime. Holly Anderson's weekly tailgaiting guide gives you all you need to know to fit in with the infamously upscale crowd in Charlottesville before a bludgeoning:
UVa tailgating is taken to with an enthusiasm that often overshadows the games, and is as variegated a scene as you're likely to find. Consigned to week after week of noon kickoffs, the faithful regularly fire up their grills as early as 6 AM. Stroll through Charlottesville on a Saturday and you'll find everything from dads playing beer pong with their undergrad children to a group of fraternity pledges covertly burying kegs in the Hill to throngs of sundressed sorority sisters balancing effortlessly on four-inch heels.
• Forget to pack your grill? Head to the Corner, a stretch of University Avenue, and feed at the collection popular student hangouts lining the street.
• If you don't get ESPNU, it's likely you haven't seen much Saturday coverage of the Cavaliers, which is a shame--this place is a jewel. The crowning glory of Charlottesville is the Lawn, in the heart of campus.
Designed by UVa founder Thomas Jefferson, this expanse gives students some unusual bragging rights--how many colleges boast tailgating destinations that double as UNESCO World Heritage sites? The Lawn is home to around 50 fourth year undergrads who throw their doors open on fall Saturdays to kick off the socializing.
That's a lawn, alright.
What to Wear
• Long a province of the Lilly-Pulitzer-and-sport-jacket crowd, dress in the stadium has loosened up in recent years. At the request of head coach Al Groh, campaigning to install "A Sea Of Orange" in Scott Stadium, the wearing of school colors has partially migrated from tie stripes to t-shirts, but this is still Virginia and tradition will always hold sway. Dress to impress and you'll never be out of place at UVa.
• Bodo's Bagels on the Corner: For those twisting their hankies over the demise of their circulatory systems.
• The Tavern, up 29: Reopened after some pesky "health code violations," this fare is the greasy spoon weapon of choice for fans whose dedication to trans fats knows no bye week.
• McGrady's Irish Pub on Preston: Relatively new but destined to become a staple with $5 domestic pitchers and Sweet & Sweaty Wings.
• The Virginian: A Corner institution that's packed to the rafters without fail on game weekends.
• Buddhist Biker Bar on Elliewood: If you need to get off your feet, rest on their patio a spell.
• Late night stomach-lining salvation (last call in Charlottesville comes at the appalling hour of 1:30) can be found on the Corner at Little John's, the White Spot, and Christian's Pizza.
What to Drink
• I asked over a dozen of Mr. Jefferson's finest undergrads to suggest a signature cocktail not to be missed by visitors to their fair city. After taking ample time to profanely correct Colin Cowherd's assertions that Virginia is a Zima school, they responded as one: Bourbon or beer. Simple. Classic. American. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.
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Holly thanks Cavaliers Joy Arcangeli, Mike Szlamowicz, and Greg Hutton for their UVa hospitality and insight. Photo of crazy Virginia fan via Getty Images.