Boston's Best Dive Bars @ TC's by weeklydig, on Flickr

The Life Cycle of the Terrible Bar

Boston's Best Dive Bars @ TC's by weeklydig, on Flickr

There are a lot of bars in Athens. I have heard more per square mile in North America and I refuse to fact check that information because it brings me joy. That means that there are a lot of really, truly terrible bars in Athens. I won’t name any names, but you know them. You’ve been there. Does the bartender think the best way to mix a drink is “flavor it with pain”? Do they seem to be playing Ke$ha in a serious manner or in any manner before midnight? Do they have a strict dress code, do they enforce it, and does it seem drawn up specifically to keep out black people?

You are in a shitty bar.

That said, you should go to terrible bars. They are where the stories are. They are the kind of places where regret is generated in industrial quantities, and nothing fuels a good narrative like shame with a little time between you and it.

You have to step on it though. If you’ve walked by a terrible bar and thought “Wow that place looks like the air inside you could give syphilis independent of any other factors, we should GO THERE!”, go tonight. Some terrible bars attract enough terrible people for terrible times that they seem to become terrible institutions. I’m looking at you bar-that-will-remain-unnamed-that-is-Buddha. Way to keep it going on, for no logical reason and in defiance of all standards of quality. Keep those sake bombs coming, from both sullen bartenders. By and large though, if a bar is truly and epically bad it’s going to close.

Granted, most bars in Athens are going to be failures. There’s only so many places a person can drink and only so many weekends and acceptable week nights to drink in a year. Some places just aren’t going to get the dollars, or they aren’t going to get enough to make it through the desert summer months. This is particularly problematic for the kinds of bars that are populated exclusively by intoxicated freshman. If you are wondering which ones those are, if you see people dancing on tables you’re probably in the right place.

A note before you go to that terrible bar: make a plan. Make two: an attack plan and an exit strategy. Terrible bars have terrible bartenders that largely never learned how to mix drinks. They know they can’t make a good beverage, but they know they can make a strong one. The only direction they know how to follow is MORE. So don’t get too many mixed drinks. They will be equal parts sugar and pain, and you will feel like someone dropped the whole bar on top of you in the morning. Also you might go far past the acceptable regret threshold into possible arrest territory. I would consult our Guide To Hangovers for how best to deal with that. But in general, cheap beer tastes the same anywhere and no one can ruin it anymore than it is already ruined. Make it your go to and you should be fine. Cheap shots might be part of your game plan, but know that your stomach will not like you very much. Later in the night, maybe try a dance bar. You’ll be moving too much to make anymore substance based mistakes. Go with a buddy too. Do not, under any circumstances, go alone. You will not make it out alive. In a similar manner, do not go to terrible bars in too large a group. The more people the more likely you are to get somebody who is kind of insane. You’ll end up with a pitcher of something that they will insist is named “JUST DRINK IT” and something very bad will happen to you.

But really. Don’t let the fact that that place you’re stumbling past seems overcrowded and is full of people that really seem to be enjoying the fact that the place is still playing “Gangnam Style.” Get in there. Go to that awful, awful bar. When you don’t take yourself very seriously, you’ll have more fun. Sure, a really good cocktail enjoyed slowly with close friends to good music is fun. But it makes a really bad war story.

Walker Smith is an Athens based comedian. Find more of his stuff at weirdkids.net

One thought on “The Life Cycle of the Terrible Bar”

  1. I would like to add a bonus detail. If you aren’t very white or are easily offended by rebel flags and terrible people make sure your terrible bar of choice isn’t General’s.

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