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Spring Fling 101: Look for Kesha, drunk Penn students and loads of undercover cops

As you can imagine, a massive outdoor blast on campus just as it’s getting warm out on a college campus = mad parties.

There will be neon. There will be insane frat parties. There will be people who go to the hospital because they drank too much. Welcome to Penn’s yearly springtime bingefest!

The event taking place this weekend, also known as Spring Fling, happens every year and starts with a university-sanctioned concert that riles everyone up right on campus. This weekend, Kesha’s going to be headlining with her hits like “Blow” (ha) and “Die Young” while thousands of Penn students lose their minds. Then everyone will retreat to fratland and house parties for the weekend ragers.

This video tells you a lot of what you need to know:

Here’s a breakdown of what Fling is and why it exists:

The Details

This year’s Spring Fling — basically a weekend-long party kicked off by an on-campus concert — is being headlined by Kesha and will feature a performance by EDM star and Norwegian DJ Kygo.

When: 8 p.m. Friday. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the opener goes on at 8. Doors close at 10 p.m. and no one will be let in after that.

Where: Franklin Field

Tickets: Floor passes were sold in a flash sale (for $55 apiece) and are already sold out. Some general admission tickets are left that go for $45 for Penn students and $80 for the public. Click here for tickets. 

The partying

As you can imagine, a massive outdoor blast on campus just as it’s getting warm out on a college campus = mad parties. In the past, rumors circulated about undercover police crashing parties as well as cops deporting international students and arresting frat presidents. Thousands of students each year during Fling crowd into fraternities and houses all weekend for the three days.

This year, in an effort to temper the madness, the university is allowing for eight parties with alcohol to be registered with the school — four Greek, four non-Greek. With an undergraduate population of nearly 10,000, it’s hard to imagine that will be the only eight.

According to The Daily Pennsylvanian, some students proposed having a green space on campus for university-sanctioned drinking for students 21 and over, but that suggestion was shot down by the school administration.

The crackdown

Last year — in what was part scare tactic, part method for arresting students — the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement brought along some Philadelphia Police, claiming they’d been invited by Penn to patrol on and around campus during Fling weekend. And while they don’t full-on admit to showing up undercover to parties, that’s kinda what they do.

“Undercover work is our speciality, so to speak,” BLCE Sergeant Dan Steele told the Daily Penn last year. And a Penn VP added that when students walk into big parties on Fling weekend, they should “know that you’re probably going to meet a BLCE officer.”

Last year, the BLCE alone issued 35 citations to 24 people in and around Penn’s campus during Fling weekend, and their presence is expected again this year. In addition to that, Penn’s Police force issued eight more citations and handled a total of 78 “Fling-related-incidents” that included 22 people being transported to the hospital.

The year before, 22 students were also sent to the hospital and 33 alcohol-related citations were issued. In 2012, 45 students were sent to the hospital but only nine alcohol-related citations were issued.

The history

Spring Fling began as a tradition in 1973, and actually replaced a springtime festival that seemed like an even bigger shitshow. According to Penn archives, the school used to celebrate “Skimmer” ever year from 1949 on which started out as a way for Penn students to line up along the Schuylkill to cheer on the crew team.

Skimmer in 1958, via Penn archives.

Soon, thousands of students from schools around the East Coast would come to Skimmer and it became an out-of-control drinking fest. According to Penn, in 1963 riots broke out and “police and security were no match for rowdy students at the races on the Schuylkill, at the Franklin Field concerts, or amid the revelry spilling out of fraternity houses.” Skimmer died a decade later, and it was replaced with Spring Fling. (They tried to resurrect Skimmer in 2011 and it was kinda lame bc no booze.)

Buuuut things with Spring Fling didn’t stay quiet for long. The festival, which started as a on-campus concert, of course became more rowdy over the years. The Daily Pennsylvanian reported “near-riot” conditions in 1988 and a terrible (amazing?) Dave Matthews-band related incident in 2005. Basically everyone thought Dave was coming… and he didn’t. The actual headliner was Sonic Youth and everyone was pissed which is just… nevermind.

In 2013, Spring Fling organizers received backlash for bringing in Tyga, who’s famous for the song “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” the same year they brought in Girl Talk, a DJ who’s also been criticized for being kinda-misogynistic. They promised to do better in the future.

Welcome to 2015, Kesha.

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