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The Thirsty Ear

Ashdown House operates the Thirsty Ear pub on Monday-Friday nights.

The Thirsty Ear

(By Glenn McAndrews (first TE director in the modern era), '82, Editted by: Karan Mistry)

The origins of the Thirsty Ear Pub as we know it today, date back to 1980s. In the fall of that year, roommates Glenn McAndrews ('82) and Michael Donovan ('82) hosted a "pajama party" in what was the first floor library. Owing to the fact that Glenn had invited the Harvard women's gymnastics club, the party was well attended by Ashdown's male residents, both invited and uninvited!

The success of that first event prompted a group of both undergrads and grad students to form a social committee; calling themselves the Hard Corps. In addition to Mike and Glenn, notable alumni include Ralph L, Vinciguerra (80,82,88), Steve Voldman ('82), Lucinda Linde ('8?), and others wishing to remain anonymous. The group made it a goal to sponsor even larger social events. With the Housemaster's permission, the Ashdown basement became the venue. Additionally, to create some excitement, events would be built around a theme.

The authors don' t remember that first theme, but the lack of excitement of that first Hard Corps "mixer" is forever etched in our minds. The event was no more than a collection of MIT graduate students (95% male) milling about in Ashdown basement. Despite the failure of the pilot, the group reconvened to re-think strategy and it became immediately apparent that advertisement in the local colleges was sorely needed. The group paid visits to Wellesley, Wheaton, and Lesley, to name a few. Publicity posters were notable for their artwork and ubiquity. Likewise, the theme was ratcheted up - the second event was billed as a "Beach Party" with the added attraction of a Men-In-Bathing-Suits" contest. And to positively guarantee a good turnout, the contestants would be auctioned off to the highest bidder! The party enjoyed standing-room-only attendance, and every event held thereafter had a long waiting line to get in. (Sand was brought in to create a convincing "beach". The final resting place of the many tons of sand remains a closely held secret. Its location is somewhere off the MIT grounds, yet still in the 02139 zip code.)

So popular were these parties, that word of the Hard Corp's success reached the desk of MIT's Dean of Student Affairs. He approached the group in 1981 with the idea of resurrecting the Thirsty Ear as a campus rathskeller. The school provided a generous budget to create a DJ booth, install music and lighting, etc. Not much was known about the earlier "Ear" but the name was intriguing so it stuck. [The name is a play on the "Hungry I", a famous San Francisco nightclub of the '60s.] And although it would be fun to operate a campus pub, the Hard Corps wanted to retain their ability to sponsor future events. It was decided to offer the Ear as a private rental facility on Saturdays and it's a schedule format that remains popular to this day. So don't be surprised if you see a Hard Corps poster for their next event in the basement of 305 Memorial Drive. It's their 25th anniversary!

In the fall of 2008, Ashdown house moved locations from the old W1 building to the recently built NW35, located at 235 Albany Street. The Thirsty Ear pub moved to the New Ashdown building and can now be found on the first floor of the building. Some of the attractions that can be found at the new Thirsty Ear include:
  • Good selection of beer and wine
  • Events including Trivia Night, Games Night, Karaoke Night, Friday Fiesta, and special programming
  • Live bands
  • Pool Table
  • More information regarding the Thirsty Ear, including hours, menus, programming, and special announcements, may be found out the Thirsty's website.

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