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From Mr. C’s To The Basement: A History Of Cheap Long Islands On College Ave.

Today, students flock to the Basement Nightspot on Thursday nights for the nightclub’s $2 Long Island iced teas, but the tradition is nothing new. In fact, the nightclub has been serving cheap Long Islands to patrons for years now, way before the days of the Basement and even its predecessor Indigo.

To give you all a quick rundown, back in the mid-70s, the joint that now houses the Basement Nightspot was called Mr. C’s. Mr.C’s was the place to be for any disco-dancing related needs and served up $1 Long Islands to patrons. It was open from the mid-70s until the early ’90s when it was replaced by Players.

Players then had a nice run as a nightclub up through the early 2000s until it was eventually replaced by Indigo. Indigo remained open from 2008-2018 before being replaced by what is today the Basement Nightspot.

Despite the many name and design changes, one thing has undoubtedly remained consistent, and that is the spot’s cheap Long Island iced teas during happy hour. When Mr. C’s first opened, it prided itself on serving up a variety of specialty cocktails, from Purple School Buses to French 75s to Long Islands.

“Over the years the Long Islands really developed in town and the reason it caught on was because it’s easy to make, it’s cheap to make, and it’s strong,” Director of Operations Curtis Shulman said.

Long Islands have a minimum of four different types of liquor in them, and oftentimes five if you add tequila. When you mix poor college students with party culture and a great bar scene, strong, cheap drinks are a necessity (and a recipe for success).

As the years went on and the bar transitioned from Mr. C’s to Players, most specialty cocktails waned out of popularity, but not the Long Island. The specialty drink maintained its same low price and continued to bring in business.

Eventually, Players moved out of the location and Indigo moved in. Initially, the drink was a $2 cocktail, but that didn’t last for long. Management decided to host “throwback Thursdays” at Indigo with $1 Long Islands.

“It was really just paying homage to the Mr. C’s days and the Players’ days and the next thing we knew it took off like wildfire,” Shulman said.

While the dollar-tea nights were certainly popular, pushing out that many dollar teas every night became pretty costly for the business. So when the Basement opened up, management realized it needed to find a way to keep business flowing but also service more people.

As a result, the staff shifted to 24-oz. Long Islands instead. It was still the same bang for patron’s bucks because the former dollar teas were only 12 oz., but they used less plastic cups.

“It’s just a passion of ours to try to limit the waste we have. It’s a bummer because we can’t do glass in the bar, but we don’t want a bunch of one-use cups that get thrown out without being recycled,” Shulman said.

From Mr. C’s to the Basement, Long Island iced teas are certainly a staple of this downtown hotspot. Long may they reign.

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About the Author

Emma Dieter

Emma is a senior from the ever-popular "right-outside" Philly area studying labor employment relations and PR. She's also the Student Life editor for Onward State. She has been a Penn Stater from cradle and will continue to bleed blue and white, 'til grave. She loves trashy romance novels, watching Netflix, and crying over cute videos of dogs. If you ever want to talk more with her about how great she is, or simply have other inquiries, feel free to email her at [email protected]

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