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(Washington Post)   What makes a good dive bar?   (washingtonpost.com) divider line 30
    More: Interesting, mac and cheese, Annandale, John Allen Muhammad, Frank Stallone, John Galliano, Falls Church, Sam Adams, VFW  
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9094 clicks; posted to Main » on 31 Jan 2013 at 2:18 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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Archived thread
2013-01-31 07:47:58 AM  
5 votes:
A lot of the "dive" bars mentioned in this thread are just bars. A real dive bar doesn't do much to attract new people. Instead it has a loyal group of regulars, many who show up in the AM and stay the whole day. A dive bar isn't some place you look forward to going to, it's where you go to get away from things. It's not a place where you feel good. It's where you can feel a little less bad. You're not really enjoying yourself, you're just numbing feeling in general. A real dive bar is a building that exists to provide as much alcohol as you need without any fancyness  4 wall, a ceiling and booze.
2013-01-31 12:41:11 AM  
3 votes:
True story -- spent hours talking about time and space with this guy who I thought was a nut. He said, I wanna show you something. I have a healthy/morbid curiosity and he was driving, so I said, "Why not?" Drives me right up the foothills to a house I've been to before (did termite work there. It was Stevie Nicks's house). So he spends HOURS telling me about the different dimensions of space and time. I didn't give a shiat because he was serving Maker's Mark. Stevie comes out in a robe and I had pancakes with Stevie Nicks, some strange relative, and awesome preserves.

This is why dive bars are good.
2013-01-30 09:37:50 PM  
3 votes:
deadhomersociety.files.wordpress.com

the dank.
2013-01-30 09:28:23 PM  
3 votes:
One free of hipsters.
2013-01-30 09:25:50 PM  
3 votes:
an equal likelihood of being groped by a tranny or stabbed by someone who lives in a trailer park.

a maximum of 3 inches of bathroom wall or divider space not occupied with graffiti, glory holes, or crusty bodily fluids.

any band who may perform must know that the proper response to hearing 'play Freebird' is to...play Freebird.
2013-01-31 12:26:36 PM  
2 votes:
blog.wfmu.org

One of my favorite stills from Lionel Rogosin's "On the Bowery" (1956).
2013-01-31 06:29:05 AM  
2 votes:
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I know I have found the right place when I see a pair of couples come in, dressed all nice like a first or second date, and they stop, look around a minute then  leave.
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2013-01-31 03:35:48 AM  
2 votes:

nemisonic: Good Pulled Pork and other BBQ style food with decent microbrews (near Boston, MA)

//Looking for something near Irvine or San Clemente like this.... sad that Mexican and Asian food rule the land of SoCal.


That is not a dive bar. That is a regular bar. Actually strike that. They take "reservations" for farks sake. That is the complete opposite of a dive!
2013-01-31 02:27:16 AM  
2 votes:
Concrete floors.
Cheap beer on tap.
Ashtrays that the staff doesn't bother to empty often.
LOTS of Black Sabbath on the jukebox...which is LOUD.  MUST BE LOUD.
Real Darts (no lame-ass digital ones)
Pool Tables.
Bartenders that are more interesting than any people you would regularly talk to at a higher-class bar.
Patrons that are freshly out of jail and/or missing most of their teeth.

...That is a dive (aka "GOOD") bar.
2013-01-31 02:05:11 AM  
2 votes:
I can't define one, but I have a favorite dive bar that's in an undisclosed place in Los Angeles County.

It's in a "bad" neighborhood and the building has been there since around 1900.

One half is a bar, the side room is the owner's junk collection/thrift shop.  It's full of old books and you're welcome to sit in there and read.

You are allowed to smoke inside.  Weirdly, it's something of a cop bar and the owner is tight with the local PD, so they don't give a fark if you smoke.

It gets better.  The bar is home to three cats that were abandoned in the neighborhood.  Everyone treats them well and they get loads of handouts.  When I'm in there, a longhaired tortie hangs around my ankles.  Nice girl and I always share my food with her.

There's a taco truck a block away and you can get a  killer $4 burrito and bring it back to eat inside with your beer.

They have free popcorn!  They also put out free hot dogs for Monday Night Football and have spreads of free food for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.  They never close.  The bar opens at 6AM and closes at 2AM every night, every day of the year.

It has bullet holes in the walls.  Some years back, three guys came in with guns pulled and ordered everyone onto the floor.  They didn't know that there were two off duty cops in there drinking.  The cops killed two of them inside and the third died outside on the sidewalk.

Then there are the regulars.  They're  awesome.  One favorite is a welder with a degree in philosophy.  There's a grandfatherly bail bondsman.  I hooked up with a funeral director who drives a third gen Camaro and is deeply into country music.  (I should marry her.)  There's a crazy homeless guy who tells you that he's a billionaire and a former Navy SEAL.  One night, he got real serious and tells me that he has a cat.  That most people think the cat is a dog, but it's really a cat.  And the cat talks to him.  I buy him beers and get to listen to these amazing stories.  Oh, and the drug-dealing prostitute.  I know better than to get involved, but she's cool and she's my buddy.  And there are another 40-50 nutty characters who come in.

Oh yeah, you can get a pint of Sierra Nevada for $3.

I love that place  so much.  When I lived in LA, I went there every day.  Even on holidays, I'd find a way to get there.

Down here in Arizona, there's a crappy bar a block away.  It hasn't been updated since the late 1960s and the owner and bartender are damned cool.  So are the regulars.  I enjoy it, but it's not like my place in LA.

Though I have a favorite in Mexico, which isn't too far away.  It's a strip club, whorehouse and they have cock fights in the back.  Deeply, deeply sleazy.  But it's fun!  Not as much fun as my favorite, but still entertaining.
2013-02-01 08:51:28 PM  
1 votes:

AverageAmericanGuy: Seriously? I don't get the fascination with "dive bars". The past couple years I've been back stateside, I've heard the term thrown around much more than any other time in my life. Everyone wants to go to dive bars. Did you go to that dive bar out in Belltown? Or the dive bar in the U District? Or the dive bar on Capitol Hill?

A place is a dive if it's dirty, run down, and has sketchy clientele. What's the point of going to one? A desperate search for authenticity? What is less authentic than pretending to be of a social class other than your own?


You may be a hipster.

But you can change.
2013-01-31 02:13:55 PM  
1 votes:
This may be the archetype, up until 2001, I logged many days here.
Go Devils
\blogs.phoenixnewtimes.com
2013-01-31 09:30:20 AM  
1 votes:
You guessed it, Frank Stallone!
etrangermysterieux.files.wordpress.com
2013-01-31 06:41:06 AM  
1 votes:
The GF and I love dive bars.  Fark anyone who thinks we're hipsters for that reason.   My fave is der Gute Stute in Frankfurt.  The owner is a psycho ex-hippie who, even though he refuses tips on principle will gladly pad your bill if you're dressed too nice.  If you insist on giving a tip, he insists on giving you a free shot of bad slivovice and you're not leaving til you drink it.

Runner-up was the old sailor's bar on the outskirts of Dublin where I actually feared being raped by a handful of 70 year olds.
2013-01-31 06:35:45 AM  
1 votes:
Any dive bar that a blogger frequents and blogs about is not a dive bar, it is a hipster haven.  True dive bar clientele only use the internet for Facebook and porn.
2013-01-31 06:32:15 AM  
1 votes:

tallguywithglasseson: If you look around and there are no actual working class people in the bar with you, you are not in a dive bar. No matter what the ambiance is like or how many people are drinking Pabst. Actually the more people with Pabst tallboys, the more likely you're in a hipster enclave.

heap: an equal likelihood of being groped by a tranny or stabbed by someone
Heh, first thing I thought to differentiate "dive bar" from "good dive bar" was not having to watch the guy who keeps looking at me like he might get stabby.



Pretty much only this.  The place that stays open later, and the other bartenders and servers go to after their place closes.  That's your dive bar.
2013-01-31 03:59:33 AM  
1 votes:

AverageAmericanGuy: Feral_and_Preposterous: AverageAmericanGuy: Seriously? I don't get the fascination with "dive bars". The past couple years I've been back stateside, I've heard the term thrown around much more than any other time in my life. Everyone wants to go to dive bars. Did you go to that dive bar out in Belltown? Or the dive bar in the U District? Or the dive bar on Capitol Hill?

A place is a dive if it's dirty, run down, and has sketchy clientele. What's the point of going to one? A desperate search for authenticity? What is less authentic than pretending to be of a social class other than your own?


It's about going to a place where people aren't being pretentious or putting on airs. (Though those people are everywhere.) Some people go because they like to play pool or darts (steel tipped, FTW) and listen to classic rock (some people might say country, but technically I think those are classed as honkytonks). Good dive bars tend to have a mix of people from all different social, economic and religious groups. (I was a bartender at one for 8 years--luckily it was a college-town dive bar, so the women tended not to be your typical leathernecks and the guys weren't often sporting prison tats and knives longer than their cocks.)

Things you don't talk about at dive bars (or shouldn't): religion and politics. (That stuff will end in butthurt and, unlike on Fark, fights in dive bars have real--physical--consequences.)

Also: Each plate of food should contain enough grease to lube the axels of a prairie schooner.

Plenty of bar-top with enough TVs to accommodate all the important sports' games simultaneously is also important.

The building has to be old and a little run down. (Low rent = low prices. If the prices are high, it's not a dive.) Otherwise it's just a sports bar.

So a 'bar'.

What makes it a 'dive' seems to be the ironic search for authenticity that the patron lacks.


AverageAmericanGuy: Seriously? I don't get the fascination with "dive bars". The past couple years I've been back stateside, I've heard the term thrown around much more than any other time in my life. Everyone wants to go to dive bars. Did you go to that dive bar out in Belltown? Or the dive bar in the U District? Or the dive bar on Capitol Hill?

A place is a dive if it's dirty, run down, and has sketchy clientele. What's the point of going to one? A desperate search for authenticity? What is less authentic than pretending to be of a social class other than your own?


what's not to like about a place where you can come in with filthy work clothes on, get falling down drunk for less than $30, and that's the expected behavior?
2013-01-31 03:47:46 AM  
1 votes:

AverageAmericanGuy: So a 'bar'.


in as much as anything is better off with a lack of description, sure. but if you want to describe what kind of place a bar is, descriptive terms like 'sports/gay/shiat-on-the-walls/dive' help.

what people describe currently as 'dive bars' was just 'the local', but that was before owning up to being a dive was considered a good thing somehow....but it was a way to distinguish between the kind of place where you have to wear a shirt, shoes and pants, and the type of place where 2 out of 3 is probably close enough.

the world needs places where they put ice in the urinals and serve drinks in content specific glasses. it also needs places where the 'bouncer' is just the largest regular in the place at the moment (even if she's a grandmother). we've got to call the latter....something. dive works for me.
2013-01-31 03:08:07 AM  
1 votes:
The bartender is drunker than you.
2013-01-31 02:59:59 AM  
1 votes:
A dive bar is kind of like pornagraphy.  I can't explain it to you, but I know it when I see it.

I've been to several different types of dive bars over the years.  Random basement bars in DC and NYC.  a little Tiki bar in hawaii that was off the beaten path enough that tourists never knew about it.  Redneck bars in the florida panhandle that did way too much karaoke.  And a absolute dump next to my old apartment in Virginia Beach.

There are only 2 things that I see in common with all of these: a don't-give-a-fark attitude with the clientele, and genuinely interesting bartenders.

Oh and no hipsters, they ruin everything.
2013-01-31 02:28:09 AM  
1 votes:
If you feel like you may catch a disease just from walking on their floors.
2013-01-31 12:27:09 AM  
1 votes:
A place where I can smoke.
2013-01-30 11:42:45 PM  
1 votes:
static.tvguide.com

Drinks! For all my Friends!
2013-01-30 09:36:30 PM  
1 votes:
When you can tell the time by how far from the pisser you have to stand to not be in the puddle.
2013-01-30 09:30:23 PM  
1 votes:
My favorite is in a basement of a house in Rumson, NJ that used to be a speakeasy in the 1920s and 30s. Right on the river for rum runners. Great for darts.

/very Irish and very close by
//parton for many years
2013-01-30 09:08:08 PM  
1 votes:
The perfect dive bar is the one where you are so drunk that you puke outside or in the bathroom and they will still serve you.
2013-01-30 09:02:47 PM  
1 votes:
There's got to be at least one dirty factory worker, one drunk biker, and one whore who always looks like she just clocked out after a particularly long day.

And a cheap, chrome pizza oven that hasn't worked right in ages.

And, there has to be a dice game being played.
2013-01-30 08:56:21 PM  
1 votes:
PADI certification.
2013-01-30 08:52:36 PM  
1 votes:
Juke box full of 60s-80s rock and a room full of people who love it.  Pool tables, real darts.
2013-01-30 08:47:08 PM  
1 votes:
Cheap drinks and a blind, deaf and mute staff.
 
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