Chatter: The Fault in Our Bars
What you said about what we said last week
A predictable consequence of writing a probing exegesis of a city’s dive bars: a whole lot of people will complain you ignored their dive bar. But while some readers’ instant reaction to Jenny Rogers’ cover story about D.C.’s complicated relationship with simple, time-worn taverns was to point out that she left out, say, Trusty’s, others offered a corrective side-eye: “If you complain that your local dive bar wasn’t included in the @wcp piece on dives, you are the worst and I don’t understand your endgame,” tweeted Brian Miller, a U Street Music Hall co-owner and an architect responsible for plenty of D.C. bar interiors. Tut-tut.
Luckily, the conversation was mostly intelligent, if perhaps occasionally preoccupied with the unanswerable question of what actually qualifies as a dive. “I’m glad people are opening up whatever bar they want. Much appreciated,” reader Art wrote of the recently opened D.C. bars that aim for a divey, or at least rough-hewn, vibe. “But you can’t call it a dive bar if the Becky next to you is saying ‘OH MYYYY GAWDDD, like he *tots* booty called me on the DL, gurl!’ and homeboy on the right is complaining about his killer hours at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom. I wish I saw more salt of the earth people, whinos, drug dealers, mothers, and 70-year-olds at these bars.” GoldCoastKid was thinking something similar, offering these criteria for a “true dive bar in D.C.”: 1) A middle aged lobbyist looking white guy in an expensive suit drinking alone. 2) One or two African or Caribbean dudes speaking in native dialect. 3) A handicapped person with a walker or wheelchair. 4) About five college kids sipping beer and playing the jukebox (yes, it needs a jukebox). 5) A bartender in a grubby black t shirt with a few tattoos and piercings. man or woman. 6) A random dog. 7) Some nerdy guy reading a book and not drinking. 8) the random MPD officer getting some free booze in his coffee travel mug.”
Hey, fair enough.
But reader Fred was concerned that the “this article is written by and for the ‘mostly young, mostly white, mostly affluent’” drinkers served by D.C.’s growing crop of neo-dives. “For those who want diverse dive bars, I think that minus a few exceptions in D.C. you’ll have to drive up to Baltimore,” he wrote. “After all, a true component of a dive bar is a blue-collar clientele (which you’ll find east of the river and little where else in the District). For example, in Baltimore there’s the Clipper Mill Inn aka the Bloody Bucket, a true dive bar. You’ll find nothing like it in the gilded city that D.C. has become.”
If you read last week’s Young & Hungry column, you now know that pumpkin-beer creep is a thing. But if you can now buy, oh, Schlafly’s Pumpkins Ale in August, is that so bad?
Maybe not! “Dog Fish had their Punkin release this past weekend, but they only had it on tap and not in bottles yet,” wrote Widness. “I don’t think mid-August is too terrible for these fall seasonals to start showing up. Plus the winters start to drop in mid-November, so…”
Department of Corrections
Due to a reporting error, “The Dives of Others” misstated which fried produce the Pinch, a bar on 14th Street NW, serves. They are pickles, not green tomatoes.