I’ll admit it, I like dive bars. Places that are just slightly above that level of seediness where you would actually feel unsafe or extremely uncomfortable. Why do I like these places? I don’t know, but it’s probably the people. Or, more likely, the lack of a certain other type of people. When I’m drinking, I don’t like being around people whose shoes cost more than my entire wardrobe (not just my clothes that day, but everything I own). I also like to not spend $10 per drink.
“How To Start Your Own Dive Bar” is somewhat sarcastic about the concept of dive bars, but gets a lot of things right. The author, Lessley Anderson, begins by trying to define what a dive bar is:
Some people would insist that a dive bar must have been around at least 30 years yet still be undiscovered by anybody with a liberal arts degree or a full set of teeth, while others would call the grungy punk rock bar with its own Facebook page a dive. Let’s simply define it as a bar that’s casual, shockingly cheap, not very clean, and imbued with a sharp edge of nihilism that perfectly suits the mood of these rocky times.
Among the things she gets right about how a dive should operate: “Open before 8am,” “Offer only a few kinds of cheap beer,” and my favorite, “Establish quirky traditions.” (I’ve played pool at a bar where the penalty for losing was “a beer and a crawl.” You had to buy the winner a beer, then crawl on your hands and knees under the pool table to the other side. The floor under the pool table was probably the most unclean, disgusting part of the bar.)
The article also offers a bar-naming device featuring a “Too drunk to type, name it for me” button.
While a lot of us might define a dive bar differently, for many of us dedicated beer drinkers, we have that one place, special in its lack of specialness, that will always pull on our heartstrings. Or liverstrings.