Sustainable ‘stappen’

For better or (usually) for worse, in exam season and out, Groningen’s commitment to her nightlife is steadfast and true. Trouble is, for your average student, that’s not sustainable. Pacing might provide an answer.

It’s said that in Old Grunn, pubs only close when the last patron leaves. Revellers and early morning joggers are known to have a cordial relationship. You could even call stappen, varyingly pronounced [s]tapp’n or sstah-puhh according to the level of inebriation, the chief student pastime – second only to “studying” at the UB. 

Yet, for all it’s worth, the appeal of stappen has a clear sell-by date. While it’s not uncommon for first-years to make it a thrice-a-week affair, with a pronounced post-BSA spike, sour seniors are practically inextricable from their rooms. Statisticians, or rather, this singular statistician-inspé has narrowed down the turning point to the tail end of the second year. 

This is simply nature’s course, surely? That students should outgrow base pursuits, and move on to higher and nobler things, like graduation or climate activism or house parties. Well, not so fast. 

Parties, like eierballen, seem to only retain their charm with sparing and selective use

Stappen doesn’t become passe per se (forgive me, I have an unhealthy relationship with alliteration). There isn’t a warm blooded creature this side of the river IJssel that doesn’t love a good party. It’s just that, as with most good things, overuse is abuse. Consistently maxing out your partying faculties is a sure-fire path to physical and mental student-senility. 

Here, another drinking maxim becomes key: ‘Pace like an ace’.  Parties, like eierballen, seem to only retain their charm with sparing and selective use. 

That wisdom’s baked into culture. Partying wasn’t invented yesterday after all. Most of the big medieval feasts usually preceded or followed intense periods of reflection and fasting. It’s true in our time too. There’s a reason why the really important occasions only come around once a year. Situating a celebration in something broader makes it all the more special. 

It’s a lesson I learnt the hard way, springing between endless late-nighters and vows of teetotalism. Thankfully there’s a sustainable alternative to be found in plain common sense. And with that, well, for the near post-exam future at least, happy stappen!


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