…where everybody used to know your name, but now they don’t anymore, because the whole place transmogrified into some sort of hell dimension!
Not quite a dive bar, but a long shot from a place you’d take the in-laws to. A nice, cozy bar where you can spend an hour or two in the evening. Have a beer, meet friends or colleagues and talk. And if you ever go there at night instead of in the evening, you can go wild and drink heavily to loud music. Not too run-down, not too fancy, not too cheap and not too expensive. I used to have a place like that when I studied at university. Several of them, in fact.
One of them was called Spruz. It still is, actually, but it was back then, too. I imagine Spruz might vaguely sound like some sort of dirty word to native speakers of English, but it never did to me, what with me doing my studying in Germany.
Spruz used to be a great place. It is in an old 18th century building with massive wooden beams crossing parts of the room. A large bar, low lights, a bit of sitting space inside, a nice sitting area outside, and the loos right between them. The ‘menu’, and I am using that term quite incorrectly, was a single, laminated A4 sheet. The blonde lady in her 40s, waitress or owner or whatever, you never ask in places like that; brings you your good, local beer. If there is no classic rock sampler on repeat, they will have tuned the radio to a classic rock station. The blinking of 2 slot machines in a corner add to the dim light in the place. And best of all was the clientele. A good mixture of younger folks and older folks, of students and workers, of white collars and blue collars. The place freshers would go in the very beginning of the term for the cheap beer, decide it is not for them, and never come back for the rest of their student lives.
That was the picture still in my mind. That is what Spruz was like 5 years ago when I finished uni. I looked forward to having a beer in Spruz again when I went back to my Alma Mater for a prolonged weekend the other day.
I enter the place, sit down, and order a beer from the big-bosomed, plungingly necklined, pierced, student-moonlighting-as-waitress with her Batman baseball cap and immediately have to retch. The chalkboard on a wall in the little niche had been removed in favor of a nice bit of oriented strand board. The other, white, wall of the niche is now proudly displaying a banksy Mona Lisa. That’s lower case ‘banksy’. In a place calling itself a ‘pub with tradition’, mind. And right in the middle of all that was the new clientele. Gone the older semester students, gone the local folks, gone almost everybody except for hipster-y freshman bros, talking inane bullshit in too loud a volume not to be forced to hear them.
I don’t want to dwell on the utter wretchedness and inhospitability of that place, I hope my words have painted enough of a picture. However, it did leave me wondering how that change of clientele can happen without a complete make-over of the place, maybe even including a name change. I guess it is like a dive bar gentrification, cheap prices attract poor freshmen and the management changing some details to accommodate the new demographic. Maybe I went there on the one day in the week the freshman bros invade the place like the mindless zombies they so much resemble, but I highly doubt it.
So, after quite some nostalgic longing to re-visit the old days for a few new ones, and finding two or three of the old watering holes still in prime condition, I guess there is one fewer cozy, homely bar to go to in the town where my uni was, just to cater to people who should have had enough places for their ilk, already.
Or maybe I have finally managed to become a grumpy curmudgeon, who knows? And now get off my lawn!