Is today’s headline fake news or deep fakes? It’s difficult to discern what or who is real anymore. The photo booth and the neon sign may be broken, but the realness of the dive bar brings me happiness. This isn’t some manicured corporate wannabe hotspot. There are jail bars on the window outside. You won’t get the flashy, blindingly gorgeous Instagram photo here, but I see beauty in that dirty, worn-in dive bar. Beauty in the bartop adorned with cigarette burns. Beauty in the sloppy spilling of drinks. Beauty in the artful placement of graffiti over the urinals.
A dive bar delivers the authenticity and connection that we all crave, now more than ever. It represents the heart and soul of a neighborhood. For me, the true test of a dive bar is whether or not it makes me feel at home, even if it’s my first time there and I am alone. The intimate dark den is the place to escape the pressures of daily life. Pour your heart out to the bartender and leave a little lighter. It’s a hideaway club where you can wear whatever, drink whatever, and be whoever. There’s no application needed because the second you walk in the door you have already been accepted.
The kitschy cafeteria style chairs are uncomfortable, but who needs comfort when you have personality and an eccentric taste of history? Who had a chance encounter on this torn vinyl barstool? Whose heart was viciously broken in this vintage booth?
Come for the jokes with the cast of mixed characters and jam to your go-to 80s tunes on the jukebox. Take that shot of Malört to forget your problems. Nurse that Old Style beer to heal your soul. It’s a momentary respite. Nothing in this world lasts, but I want to hang onto the hope that my favorite dive bar lives forever.
Ms. Dive Diva can be followed on Twitter & Instagram @chicagodivediva.