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The Battle of 25th Street

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The Battle of 25th Street

The tear gas has cleared and the rioters are gone. The pledges are slowly trying to clear the debris from the upstairs toilets. The carcasses of crawfish, Keystone, Newcastle and Austin’s collective dignity lie strewn about the yard, the halls and the dance floor. The risk manager is in hysterics, the social chair is inconsolable, and no one’s seen the president for at least 14 hours. The light of Sunday afternoon shows the devastation of the Battle of 25th Street, and the hapless fraternity house that played host to that glorious Roundup riot.

The smashed gates and torn-away fenceposts testify to the desperation with which so many tried to get onto the grounds. The cops in riot gear are gone now, and their helicopter too, but their efforts to get everyone out as the rest of the world was trying to get in are memorialized in citations, stun-gun burns and the lingering bile from inhaled pepper spray.

Juicy J never made it on stage, but good Lord was there a show.

The first signs of trouble came with a scowl on the fire marshal’s face around 4:00pm Saturday, as he dubiously regarded the 30-foot inflatable waterslide sandwiched between trees in the front yard. The crawdads knew something was up, but we all knew they were doomed regardless, so we didn’t listen. Oh, we should have listened to those frantic, delicious little mudbugs. Four hours later, the slide was torn down and 4,000 people were clustered on the streets around the house, desperately trying to get in.

They climbed onto the roof. They counterfeited the entry wristbands. They climbed fences (I never thought I’d live to see a 5-foot sorority girl clear an 8-foot fence with a running jump). The security guard for the back porch sunk helplessly onto a couch to watch in incredulous amazement as a zombie horde worthy of The Walking Dead tried to crash through the sliding glass doors into the upstairs hallway. How the hell did drunk zombies get on the second-floor balcony in the first place? The tunnel under the fence didn’t get completed in time, but the damage was done.

Pretty soon, the house was surrounded by cop cars, who had blocked off the nearby roads and were convening on the yard. The chapter officers desperately tried to comply with police, keep the party under capacity and let the show go on, but it was no use. Every drunken college student that had made it to Austin for the weekend was inside or getting there. They laughed and booed when the chapter president came onstage and announced the party was being shut down.

“Fuck that! We want Juicy J!” they cried, and stood stubbornly in the yard in front of the stage.

The riot police were gathering, the risk manager was having a heart attack, the social chair was running around in panic, and Juicy was upstairs packing up his entourage to hit 6th Street.

I was standing inside a half hour later trying to calm down some frantic chapter sweethearts, though the crowd outside was still refusing to leave. Then my eyes started to water and my throat started burning. They’d gassed us. The bastards had gassed us. The girls screamed. Grown men in tank tops and flip flops were sprinting everywhere coughing and wheezing. There was a blonde sophomore projectile-vomiting from pepper spray to the mouth, and there were Austin PD and 8-foot tall security behemoths pushing crowds of bright neon drunks out any exit they could find. I could barely fight my way back to my room to take shelter from the damn gas. The sweethearts were on their own.

The house was “cleared” by 10:00pm, but the last drunk lost momentum and went down around 5:00am. I saw two Alabama sorority girls running for their lives after they made the grievous mistake of trying to use the upstairs bathroom. 8 indoor toilets and 4,000 drunks makes one hell of an odor, and those poor sweet belles will probably carry the scar of that sight and stench for life. The drunks came, raged and destroyed everything that a fist or a hammer or a bowel movement could break. I’d have felt sorry for the Bama girls if I didn’t have to live in the mess they were fleeing.

All they wanted was Juicy J, and they never got him.

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