Fake spring break

How to experience that sloppy week of debauchery...without leaving NYC.

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  • Photograph: Syd London

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    Billy Hurricane's

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    The Scorpion Bowl at Billy Hurricane's

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    The Scorpion Bowl at Billy Hurricane's

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    The Scorpion Bowl at Billy Hurricane's

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    Billy Hurricane's

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    The mechanical bull at Mason Dixon

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    The mechanical bull at Mason Dixon

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    Karaoke Killed the Cat at Union Hall

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    Karaoke Killed the Cat at Union Hall

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    Karaoke Killed the Cat at Union Hall

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    Karaoke Killed the Cat at Union Hall

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    Karaoke Killed the Cat at Union Hall

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    Karaoke Killed the Cat at Union Hall

  • Photograph: Syd London

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    Karaoke Killed the Cat at Union Hall

Photograph: Syd London

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Billy Hurricane's

For millions of young people, spring break approaches, and brings with it the promise of innumerable pleasures: days spent sunbathing practically naked, evenings trading saliva with attractive strangers, and long, lazy afternoons dedicated to competitive beer pong. It all seems so charming when you're stuck in Manhattan during the blustery month of March, deluding yourself into thinking that T-shirt weather might arrive before May. But whether or not the weather cooperates, it's entirely possible to experience the particular, innocent joys normally reserved for a rowdy week in Cancun right here in NYC. Suspend your self-judgments, gather your posse and prepare to create memories that will last a lifetime—or, if you're lucky, at least until the next morning—as you reclaim your youth. Herein, a primer to your urban spring break with me, your trusted lush reporter as your guide, and a handy Douche-O-Meter rating to ensure your break is as close to a vintage Real World episode as humanly possible. Cut loose, pop your collars and read on.

Rule No. 1: Drink a ridiculously huge tropical beverage
I'd been looking forward to kicking off my spring-break bender with a boozy, oversize cocktail all week. East Village bar Billy Hurricane's sounded like a location of a final blowout in some terrible teen-sex comedy, making it as good a setting as any for starting my break. Billy's serves the classic Scorpion Bowl ($16), a five-liquor-strong concoction meant to be split among up to six people. Naturally, I decided to down it all myself. Between sips of the highly potent mix (five types of rum, cranberry and orange juices, and cherries), I warmed up to the place, which blurs the line between college bar and a New Orleans--themed joint. (Dig the photo booth, chalkboard and "Huge Ass Beer to Go" sign.) After 30 minutes, I finally saw the bottom of my bowl and couldn't help but sing along to OutKast's "Ms. Jackson" with some of my boozing peers. 25 Ave B between 2nd and 3rd Sts (646-692-6216, billyhurricanes.com). $16. 
Douche-O-Meter: Medium. Rather than mocking me for ordering a giant, fruity, flaming drink, the buff, late-twenties dudes hovering near the bar politely offered to help me carry it to my table.
More gigantic drinks: The La Tropicalia at Lani Kai (525 Broome St between Sullivan and Thompson Sts; 646-596-8778, lanikainy.com). $58. * #450 Cocktail at The Hurricane Club (360 Park Ave South at 26th St; 212-951-7111, thehurricaneclub.com). $47.

Rule No. 2: Ride a mechanical bull
Next, I stumbled a few blocks over to bourbon hub Mason Dixon. By 11pm, it was packed with bromancing guys boozing to the Blink-182 and Lit blaring from the stereo. My mission, as any spring breaker's should be: to conquer the giant mechanical bull. The pit is in the back of the bar; I watched a heavily muscled kid give it a go first and land on his ass. People casually looking on laughed, and thinking I'd join in on the still-fresh joke, I jumped in line, signed a waiver and paid my $5. After climbing aboard, I raised an arm above my head, clenched my thighs around the bull's back (the only tips the operator gave me) and grinned wildly. During the ride, while contemplating how much my unmentionables hurt, I listened for cheering underneath the '90s alt rock. But there wasn't any—so you'll definitely want to roll with a crew of equally drunk or supportive peers if you plan on taming the mechanical beast without suffering a bruised ego (and bum). After a good two minutes, I was flung onto the padded mat. Later, in the bathroom, a stranger nodded at me. "You look good, guy," he said. A little battered but hardly broken, I prepared to fist-pump my way to Brooklyn. 133 Essex St between Rivington and Stanton Sts, (212-260-4100, masondixonnyc.com). $5.
Douche-O-Meter: High. Dixon boasts more of a fratty weekend vibe than a country one, with a dude-heavy contingent that doesn't like moving to the side so you can scoot by.
More mechanical bulls: Viva Toro, 188 Berry St between North 3 and 4th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-384-2138, vivatoro.com). Free with any food purchase, unlimited rides $10.

Rule No. 3: Get hammered and sing
The last time I sang karaoke, I bellowed the Rolling Stones' slow, soulful weeper "I Got the Blues" in front of a live backing band and stank up the room. But this is spring break, and I am required—nay, commanded—to press my lips against a dirty microphone and slay the crowd with my sweet crooning. Karaoke Killed the Cat is billed as a party for people who never thought they'd like singing in public, and the free weekly bash is fueled by energetic hosts Chris Goldteeth and Lord Easy. They storm the stage, high-five the audience and play air guitar beside you, so it never feels like it's just you and the machine. I opted for a peppier Stones cut, "Get Off of My Cloud," took a huge swill of beer (it was my third post--Scorpion Bowl libation that night, and I felt as uninhibited as I assume Keith Richards feels all of the time) and did my best Jagger strut. It's the hardest I've ever sang. A few people even chimed in with "Hey, you!" during the chorus. I deemed the performance a success, although I still have a lot to learn from the bald guy who delivered a mind-blowing version of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It." 702 Union St between Fifth and Sixth Aves, Park Slope, Brooklyn (718-638-4400, unionhallny.com). Fri midnight; free.
Douche-O-Meter: Low. It felt like an intimate, drunken dance party...fueled by the power of music.
More karaoke: Wicked Willy's, 149 Bleecker St between La Guardia Pl and Thompson St (212-254-8592). Tue, Thu, Sun; Thu $1 per song,  Tue, Sun free * Karaoke 17, 29 W 17th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-675-3527, karaoke17.com). $2 per song, private room $8 per person per hour.

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