Have you ever woken up the next morning/afternoon after a bender and could still smell the bar? Not the alcohol you spilled on yourself someone spilled on you, but the environmental smell of the bar itself? That was very likely a dive bar.

The Thursday (March 7th) Question of the Century on The Loon Morning Show asked listeners to build the perfect dive bar.

What Makes the Perfect Dive Bar?

#1: The Smell

Stale cigarette smoke that's YEARS old, spilled drinks that just soaked in before getting cleaned up, various other...uh, stuffs...make for That Dive Bar Smell. If you can't smell the bar in your clothes the day after you were there, it doesn't have That Dive Bar Smell.

#2: Sketchy Restrooms

PUSH! photo by Choad)
PUSH! (photo by Choad)

This isn't high-class dining: a dive bar should have sketchy-at-best restrooms. The urinals/troughs should have ice cubes in them, the toilets can't really handle #2, and the floors are only slightly grosser than the rest of the bar. On that note...

#3: Sticky Floors

A gross, sticky floor will (mostly) discourage patrons from getting so hammered that they fall on the floor. And if they do, they're not going anywhere for a while. Remember the top floor of Rum Runners? The soles of my Chucks are still there.

#4: Dim Lights

We're not the best lookin' folk. The lights are dark and not photogenic. Neon lights make up most of the lumens. There are bright lights, but they're only turned on at last call.

#5: The Food

Again: NOT high-class eatin'. There'll probably be a popcorn machine that's never been cleaned. Most definitely various pickled things like gizzards and eggs will be behind the bar.

A Level 2 Dive Bar will have a pizza oven (also has never been cleaned). A Level 3 Dive Bar will serve the greasiest, most DELICIOUS burger baskets you've ever horked down.

#6: The People

photo by Choad
That's a saddle horn I'm holding. Really. (photo by Choad)

A dive bar should most definitely have a group of regulars that can be counted on to always be there...unless they got another DUI. They'll all turn to look at you when you walk in, but they won't be dicks to you unless you deserve it. One guy seems to live there.

#7: Long-Term Bartenders

Of course there will be bartenders, but The Perfect Dive Bar will employ bartenders who stay for YEARS. A new bartender will be an actual event that you tell your friends about. Did YOU get hired as a bartender? Be honored. That's a tight family you're being welcomed into. They fight like they're family, too.

#8: If There IS a Stage, It's Not a Good Stage

photo by Choad
One jump and my head is through the ceiling (photo by Choad)

I'm a little conflicted on this one, because:

  • I've played some dive bars with no stages (just a power strip on an extension cord in a corner of the bar where the dart boards are usually at...and the regular dart players are pissed off when a band plays)
  • I've played dive bars with awful stages (for some reason the stage requires the use of stairs to get to, and then there's only 6 inches of clearance from my head to the ceiling)
  • I've played dive bars with great stages (Stoney's in Rockville is a perfect example. Love ya, Cheetoz!).

The Perfect Dive Bar will have live entertainment of some sort. A band, a solo artist, karaoke, a DJ...some kind of entertainment that isn't a TV or a jukebox.

#9: A Signature Drink That Might Kill You

My favorite dive bar - The Blue Ox in Brainerd (RIP) - had The Flaming Al. It was alcoholic enough to light on fire...which Al did. But don't let it go too long, otherwise you'll be shooting down a hot shot of booze. But by this point in your night, you usually don't care.

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