21st birthday cake

This is it. In less than a week, I will be taking my proud place in the pantheon of people for whom alcohol consumption is a legal right. That’s right, by midnight on Friday, I too will finally be 21. Since nary a column has gone by all month without some mention of my impending birthday, it’s obvious that I’m excited for the big two-one. And why shouldn’t I be? There’s a whole new world of bars, clubs, events, parties, and even cities (Vegas, anyone?) that are finally going to open up to little old me.

No longer will I have to beg someone else just to buy me the basic provisions for a game of beer pong. No longer will I have to hoard alcohol because I know that replenishing my Red Bull and Vodka stash requires recruiting a willing friend to trek to the store with me. No longer will I have to substitute out the wine in all my best Italian sauce recipes because it’s too much of a pain to not only have to track down the right bottle, but also find someone willing to come with me on my booze-seeking adventures.

No longer will I have to stress about some overzealous police officer deciding that the beer in my hand – or the single beer in my bloodstream – merits me being arrested. No longer will I have to spend my Thursday nights home alone because everyone else has already caught Bill’s Bus downtown. No longer will I be left out of the nightly after-work beers at Dublin’s, the weekly trivia game at Study Hall, and the annual trips to Vegas on Memorial Day weekend.

As I make the transition to legal libation-consuming adulthood, I can’t help but look back on the past two decades of my life – and particularly the time I’ve spent lamenting my status as a minor. In fact, when I think about it, there are actually a lot of activities I’ve found to amuse myself over the course of my college career that did not require alcohol consumption at all. And fortunately for those I.V. dwellers whose big twenty firsts are a little further away than mine, many of these activities are still going on during the summer.

Magic Lantern Films has full roster of film screenings at I.V. Theater during the summer, with horror film “The Host” playing on July 20 and 23, cop comedy “Hot Fuzz” showing on July 27 and 30, and the collaborative collection of romantic vignettes “Paris Je T’Aime” showing on August 3. All the films screen at 7 and 9:30pm on Fridays and 10pm on Mondays, and they all cost just $4 to attend. Meanwhile, UCSB’s Arts & Lectures is hosting their own Summer Film Series every Wednesday at 7:30pm in Campbell Hall. The movies range from the contemporary Iranian comedy “Offside” on July 25, to the political documentary “An Unreasonable Man” on August 8, to the classic Italian masterpiece “La Dolce Vita” on August 29. More information about the Arts & Lectures summer film series is available at their website.

Movies aren’t the only way I passed my time during my pre-21 days. The University Art Museum hosts an ever-changing roster of exhibits and events designed specifically to educate and appeal to students. Right now, they have an amazing exhibit entitled, “Andy Warhol Presents,” which features work from the famous pop artist’s early career. More information about the museum is available online at www.uam.ucsb.edu.

The Santa Barbara Downtown Organization regularly hosts 1st Thursday events, where residents and tourists alike are treated to an art walk through downtown, as all the major galleries and venues not only stay open late, but also provide refreshments, performances, and special exhibitions to visitors. The next one is coming up on August 2.

And, Isla Vista is full of music venues that don’t require an ID to enter. Check out the new Facebook group, Santa Barbara Music Scene and the Myspace pages for Isla Vista music, KCSB, and the Biko house for more information about upcoming shows at some of the smaller venues I.V. has to offer.

I’m not going to lie. Turning 21 is probably the most exciting thing to happen to me all summer. But, when all is said and done, you don’t really need to be of legal drinking age to enjoy all the things Santa Barbara has to offer when it comes to going out. In fact, many of the best nights I’ve spent in IV and downtown have involved little to no drinking whatsoever. That doesn’t make turning 21 any less exciting – but it does make me feel a lot better about rubbing it in the faces of my friends who were born even later than I was.


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