Posted by: martinworster | December 29, 2010

109. 70s DIVE BAR

Tits and tats, naked flesh and the subjugation of the female…


I’ve often considered that in many ways America is stuck in the 1970s. Nowhere is this more than apparent in a ‘dive bar’. Dive bars are the grotty little back street watering holes that abound in strip malls. The drinking culture here is very different. First a disclaimer. I realise I am making massive generalisations. When I say ‘here’ I am of course referring to Southern California – which does not represent the rest of the States. That’s one of the interesting things about living here – Arizona is basically a different country to New England, as is Arkansas to Florida. 


In So Cal there aren’t lots of nice pubs. It doesn’t seem to be common to go for post work drinks like you would in England. May I be so bold as to say it is less sociable here? I think it is. The dominant Northern European Protestant culture has booze pumping through it’s veins. Getting to know someone frequently involves sharing beverages. Dating in the UK – at least when I did it – involved getting as drunk as possible and then if your luck was in you might fall into the sack with your ‘date’. Alcohol is a great social lubricant. So many times I’ve been out and thought ‘gosh if only these stiffs would have a tipple, it might liven things up a notch’. I know, I am a weak willed, lilly livered numpty who relies on alcohol as social prop. I am not ashamed to admit it.


The founding of America was based on a Puritanism which I think still seeps through the culture in many different areas. So many times I have been to parties and there will be a high percentage of non drinkers who are ‘recovering’. Hmm, I don’t want to prejudge, and maybe they did have a serious problem but I think the measuring stick for what designates a problem is set much lower here. To me a problem is waking up in the morning and first thing reaching for the bottle of vodka. Anything less is totally acceptable. 


So often I go for post-work drinks with my mainly expat (English, Irish, Australian) friends out here. This involves frequenting some of the dive bars. Walking into them is like being sucked through a portal and spat out slap bang in the middle of 1977. Tacky neon light signage advertises the beers. Coors Lite. Bud Lite. Anything Lite. Bad Company, Creedence Clearwater Revival or ACDC will be cranking on the duke box. An over abundance of TVs will blast out all the American sports in all their garishly pixelated dreadfulness. Posters on the walls will advertise other beers, typically with a shot of a tanned lovely’s buttocks teasing through a pair of high cut jean shorts, very much Daisy from Dukes of Hazzards. Sex sells. Then of course behind the bar, will be Daisy from Dukes – but with loads of tattoos. Enough tattoos to make Amy Winehouse look like a blank sheet. On the hands, feet, neck, arms tattooed like builders. Tits and tats. 


Daisy will flutter her eyelids and ask you what ‘y’all having’. More sex sells. Each round will involve tipping, always a demeaning exercise. Here, more a case of tat for tit; ‘Here you go love, here’s a Buck, now go buy yourself something nice and possibly long sleeved to cover those ink splodges.’ 


Of course, if you’re in the market for proper female flesh you can always check out the abundance of ‘bikini bars’. Pretty much a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin type watering hole, a halfway house between normal bar and strip joint. Four pints in and all the male punters are drooling like village idiots at the display of succulent flesh laid out like an interactive butchers. That’s the whole thing out here, whether it be cheer leaders, Hooters girls, bikini bar workers, strippers and any other Daisy girl who bares her flesh in a commercial environment, the States is in many ways stuck in the 1970s when it comes to certain feminist advances. 


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