I don’t really like dive bars, but I am always sad when one closes. I prefer to drink in a clean, well-lighted place where I don’t have to watch Yankees highlights or listen to the discomfiting political ideas of ancient barflies. But many others like the dimness, and the sweating bottles of Budweiser, and talking sports with someone they don’t know and never will, except for the duration of one boozy evening.
These pleasures, to be found in dive bars, used to be readily available on the street corners of New York and Chicago, in establishments that had an Irish name, or a Polish name, or maybe no name at all—just a neon sign announcing the presence of cheap booze in uncomplicated arrangements. No longer so. To watch the agonizing death of the dive bar is to know that a species integral to urban ecology is disappearing.
Regardless of your affection or animosity for that species, its extinction says nothing good about the way we live. You may, at this, point, ask an entirely reasonable question: What, exactly, is a dive bar, anyway? To which I will, in turn, supply an entirely honest answer: I have absolutely no idea. Unlike flora and fauna, watering holes do not abide by Linnaean taxonomy.
Nevertheless, several negatives readily apply: This is not the place for the $18 kiwi-tini, nor for an Upper Peninsula artisanal ale lauded by the high culinary priests of Bon Appetit. The dive is not new, the dive is not fashionable, and the dive is not in the newspapers unless 1) it is closing, as dives often are, and 2) it is the setting of a crime, as dives also often are. The dive is not beautiful, and neither are the people within it. And that’s how they like it, thank you very much.
Yuppies Are Killing the Dive Bar