Ode to the Cove

Densen post

Do you know which state gives out the most B.U.I’s (boating under the influence)? Florida has a ton of coastline, a big ol lake, and year round boating weather, but it’s not them. How about the self-proclaimed ‘Ocean State’, Rhode Island? Nope. Minnesota has 10,000 lakes and you know they’re drinking to take some of the bite out of the cold, but they don’t top the list either. The unassuming state of Missouri wins in a landslide because of a dirty little secret. Their secret is a little place called Party Cove.

Basically I have come to find that around the country there are a few giant annual parties masquerading as more legitimate events, Party Cove being just one of them. Ever seen the infield at a NASCAR race? I used to think that the Kentucky Derby and Preakness were just important horse races. Then I went to Preakness, and found it’s really just a frat party with horses running around it. I know some people that went and didn’t see a single horse (I wouldn’t have had I not entered the infield by walking across the track). The Triple Crown races, however, are for another time, as this is my Ode to the Cove. Unless you live in the Midwest, or happened to catch the July 22nd, 2005 issue of the New York Times as I did, you probably have no idea what Party Cove is. There is a relatively large lake in central Missouri called Lake of the Ozarks that has many arms and coves as it was the product of damming a river. Most of the lake and shore are privately owned, but there is one cove in a public state park of all places, open to all 21 and older (wink wink elbow elbow) called Party Cove. Every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day, thousands of boats from all over the Midwest descend upon the half-mile long cove, each carrying people who are there solely to party like the word ‘responsibility’ is French, and we all know how much the Hoosiers love the French. The craft there range in size from one person wave runners to some yachts that would look more at home tied up in places like Miami or South Hampton, and they’re all tied together forming masses of floating islands. In one part of the cove, two absurdly long straight lines of boats face each other in what is known as The Gauntlet, creating a floating Bourbon Street nearly as wild as the original.

Wherever you tie up, the boats nearest you (about 5 boats away on each side) form a walkable social area, an area in size, concentration, and raucousness that is very comparable to a basement frat party. As such, it is very important to choose your tie up spot wisely, as I learned on my trip to The Cove this past Labor Day Weekend. The first day we made friendly with a boat carrying a bachelorette party on the way into the cove. We met them by exchanging a friendly volley from alcohol filled water guns, as is standard for the cove. Their weapon of choice was a rum filled phallic gun, ours a vodka and energy drink watercannon of a Super Soaker. Tying up to a bachelorette group was a wise choice for day one, even though they kept trying to give us their bush league jello shots. The next day, we tied up next to a female heavy group of SIU Edwardsville kids. They made fun of us for drinking Miller High Life Lite, which won me over immediately as I personally would definitely chose Schlitz, and briefly consider goat urine, over High Life Lite. Great choice, but our next one wouldn’t be. A lone middle aged dude on a big pontoon boat motioned to me to tie up next to us not long after we got in. I gave him my best “no way bro” look (the kind I usually only use to settle things when someone thinks they’re before me in line for the beirut table) which he clearly read as he replied, “Don’t worry, I got ten more people coming in, they’re meeting me here”. Well, due to the long boat ride on which there wasn’t much to do but kick back a few, I was less sharp than usual, and agreed to let him tie up. What the fuck was I thinking? His ‘friends’ couldn’t just stroll on over because of the whole ‘we’re in the middle of a lake thing’, so they’d be coming in on a boat. A DIFFERENT boat, one on which they could party without this creepy middle aged dude. Needless to say, after four hours, no one had shown up to meet him, and all his presence did was make it hard to get to the boat full of K-State kids the next boat down. And being that their football team had just lost their opener, which would have been a pretty good upset had they pulled it off, I was trying to show them a good time. A quick swim over with the Super Soaker did the trick.

That was the best part, that I could have swam up to any boat and been welcomed aboard, and probably charmed a few free drinks from the occupants. But that’s what Party Cove is all about, a gathering of like minded individuals coming together in public, but largely below the radar, to do something that society generally looks down upon: party hard. Many a Midwestern Labor Day BBQ is spared dealing with ‘that drunk asshole’ because that same guy instead hitched his bass boat to his Dodge Ram and hauled on up to Lake of the Ozarks for the weekend. Ok, that was just a shot at Midwesterners, but the point holds true; we are a free society, and one of excess, so just as that morbidly obese guy you saw on TLC is going to eat another 17 cheeseburgers today, partiers are going to party. Why not provide them a place to do it where they don’t disturb others and where the Coast Guard can stay safely nearby in case things do get dangerous? Party Cove, ladies and gentleman, is a blessing. Here’s a list of other blessings which I have been to or plan to go to soon, in case you’re thinking of taking a road trip:

  • The Kentucky Derby
  • Preakness
  • A NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway
  • Burning Man
  • Miami Regatta
  • Party Cove part deux
  • New Years Eve in Times Square (At a place with open bar tickets, not outside)

If you can think of any other parties posing as (quasi) legitimate events, feel free to post them, I’ll add any to my list that I couldn’t think of for this post. That’s the Special Guest’s take on things. Marinate on that.

– Densen

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’d like to add that Densen didn’t score any girls while at the Ozarks, and returned home with bruises all over his body.

  2. Dear Densen,

    I was marinating on your post (as instructed), when the reason for the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach became painfully clear. As a native Philadelphian, I am shocked AND awed at the fact that you could write an article on parties masquerading as semi-legitimate events without mentioning the fabled tradition of Wingbowl. Beer, wings, and tits are all very dear to my heart, and your oversight of the one place where they come together annually in harmonious debauchery stings me to the core.


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