Where did FishGo?

eulogy for wednesday night

Telling people about FishCo who didn’t know about FishCo is always a trip.
The stories were told in the bruises, stains, and fuzzy-edged hours that were our Thursday morning bedmates, always sticking around longer than the human ones. They were legendary nights—despite the fact that we could anticipate the increasingly hazy chapters of the night practically by rote, we always went back on Wednesdays. What other venue could promise the debauchery of Halloween FishCo, all glitter and fishnets and guys in giant fruit costumes spilling most of their shots of tequila? Or survive the ordeals that were the First FishCos, those crowded and sweaty initiatory rites of passage ushering in each new semester? Perhaps Brian Alexander ’11, no stranger to the Fish Company’s delights, put it best: “Sloppiness was not only tolerated, it was expected as a prerequisite for attendance.”
In the fall of 2010, to the dismay of its fun-loving faithful, the Fish was hooked and grilled by the Providence Police’s Underage Drinking and Nightclub Safety Task Force. It was the end of an era, and for those of us FishCo regulars who morn, the question lingers—what will the Wednesday nights of the future hold? “FishCo cannot be replaced,” says Jeremy Harper ’11, and he’s probably right. So now that our Wednesdays have shed their sticky, fishy skin, what new creature will emerge?
Two contenders, a bar and a dance club, appear to be leading the pack. Olives and Colosseum each represent an aspect of the FishCo magic that has been lost. Their valiant efforts appear to be paying dividends—each has established Brown-exclusive parties on Wednesday nights, banking on our midweek drinking impulses, and each has enjoyed seeing capacity crowds and long, snaking lines. But can either destination draw the potpourri of partiers that graced the FishCo floors on so many nights? It is perhaps too soon to declare a definitive answer, but for now, the masses appear divided. In part by circumstance and legality, Olives and Colosseum seem to have laid claim to distinct party-going segments of the Brown student body.
“I never liked the Fish Company,” says Olives manager and Brown alum David Tapalian ’97. “It was too much a mix of younger people, older people, and they really crammed them in.” While Tapalian likely hopes for a similar level of cramming at Olives, there will be no comparison in terms of age variety. “We are a real 21+ establishment,” Tapalian says, and he’s determined to keep it that way, though he isn’t ignorant of the competition that hormone-hyped 18+ clubs such as Colosseum pose. Trusting in a decreased cover charge and two-for-one drink specials to draw enough thirsty, of-age college patrons to his bar, the manager has sought to bring together “a more mature crowd.”
Meanwhile, thrill-seeking under- and upperclassmen have been flocking to Colosseum, where both the Brown-specific floor and one open to the public admit anyone over the age of 18 and issue bracelets to those who can provide a 21+ driver’s license. The club boasts a much larger dance floor than FishCo or Olives, as well as lounge areas for the taking of breathers in between Major Lazer bangers. These features attract some seniors such as Trevor Mundt ’11, who has hopes of “getting FishCo-rowdy.”
The potential for such debauchery, however, as so many victims of the ‘Co can attest, can sometimes go too far. In a recent scandal that could hurt the future of Colosseum’s relationship with Brown, two students in attendance last week alleged that they were assaulted and forcibly removed by some of the club’s bouncers who took issue with their dancing style (“Students Allege Assault by Colosseum Bouncers”). While the owner of Colosseum issued an apology the next day, the hackles are up on the backs of many Brown students in reaction to this and other reported antagonistic run-ins with the staff of the club. It is this exact sort of situation that fortifies Tapalian in his commitment to Olives’ strict ID policy. It’s “a double-edged sword,” Tapalian says, but “in this business you never know what’s going to happen.”
Those of us lamenting the loss of FishCo are also finding it hard to imagine what’s going to happen now. It is altogether unlikely that a true replacement is on the near horizon. The ‘Co toed the magical line between a 21+ bar and an 18+ dance club. Its ID policy was notoriously slack, and hungrily did both young and old wolves descend. It was the Wednesday afternoon inevitability, that inclination tickling the back of the mind: to Fish or not to Fish? Its appeal was broad, its stories notorious, and whether it is ultimately Olives, Colosseum, or another destination that fills the Wednesday night void, there might never be another place like it.