One Night, Four Dive Bars
Recently, I've been thinking a lot about dive bars, that sub-sect of watering hole fiercely guarded by established regulars. The type of place where the bartender and waitress know 90% of their customer's names and take the time to invest in conversation past the precursory friendly pre-drink banter. I decided last weekend to make my way around some Dallas haunts in hopes of tracking down Norm and the guys, and to find out exactly what people at these places were listening to.
The Inwood Lounge's neon beckons
Though not really a dive, and with prices that indicate you are in fact in one of the pricier parts of Dallas, I have this insane love for a bar inside of a movie theater. As I walked, El Michels Affair played over the speakers. I order a $4 Lone Star (I like this place, but this is highway robbery) and make my way to the back room, which feels like it should be used for drug deals - maybe it's all the neon and the Talking Heads vinyl. This thought comes to me either because of the lighting, the gentleman sitting at a table wearing sunglasses, or because I've seen the works of Michael Mann a few times too many.
Ships is the closest thing Dallas has to Cheers, as the Lower Greenville haunt is renowned for its regulars and what might be the best jukebox in town. When I arrived, I ran headlong into a pirate-themed birthday party for one of the regulars. As I sat down in a booth and ordered a $2 PBR draft, I couldn't help but smile. It feels like the clientele knows each other, as hugs are given out and liquor poured into set-ups.
An assortment of Stax-era soul and outlaw country plays from the jukebox as people take turns picking through their favorite songs. Willie Nelson plays as the bartender asks my story and hands me another PBR. Next to me, a woman in full pirate regalia talks about dogs with another woman who has an abundance of feathers in her hair. I almost feel bad telling you about Ships. The limited capacity makes things cozy, but borders on the criminally small side.