By: Carley Milligan, Editor-in-Chief
For the past two weeks I’ve been partying like I just turned 21. Although, that’s probably because I just did.
It’s amazing to me how much of a big deal turning the legal drinking age has become in the United States. Most of our parents were probably allowed to drink beer and wine by age 18, since between the years of 1974-1984, Maryland state law allowed for this.
It never really occurred to me that for those old enough to have missed the 1984 National Minimum Drinking Age Act that changed the legal age back to 21, they might not understand what a massive, over-the-top, life-changing experience it is for young people today. I first realized this age gap phenomenon when over the summer my uncle said to me something along the lines of, “but you’ve been allowed to drink beer and wine for years right? So your 21st won’t be that exciting?”
For someone who has a birthday that comes fairly late in the year it’s always been a bit of a bummer to be the youngest of my grade. I was one of the last to get my license, to be able to attend 18+ concerts, but the worst has definitely been the wait for 21.
What makes it the worst, I think, is not just the fact that you can’t drink in public or purchase alcohol. It’s that you physically have been cut off from your friends and social group. All of their celebrations, birthdays, group weekend outings and even just a casual “grabbing a drink after class,” take place in establishments that it is illegal for you to enter as someone underage.
In some states, there are bars that work like concert venues, where 18 to 20-year-olds are allowed entry but receive giant black Sharpie X’s across the backs of their hands. I always wished that more places in Baltimore or Towson allowed this. It’s also probably a lot of the reason why I was initially so interested in the EDM scene, because most of their shows give those in attendance a “club-like” atmosphere with the benefit of being able to get in under 21 in most cases.
For those of us who didn’t want to risk getting caught with a fake ID and simply just wanted to celebrate our friend’s 21st birthday with him or her, would have really appreciated the opportunity to just be with friends, dancing and celebrating, even without the addition of alcohol.
I know that complaining about this probably won’t result in the government doing anything about it, especially because of all the individuals who are against lowering the drinking age. But I just feel that there are things local businesses could be doing to make more revenue, and provide activities for those in that unique age range of 18-20.