First things first: I like bars. All kinds of bars—fancy themed bars with expensive drinks, piano bars, sports bars, Irish pubs, and dive bars. Especially dive bars.

I don’t know why this is, maybe because when I was a little girl out and about with my dad, sometimes we would stop in the Haufbrau. I got to sit on a barstool upholstered in slick, black vinyl and drink black cherry soda in a strange little glass. The polished wood bar was dark, the walls were dark, even my soda was dark. It was a quiet place visited mostly by men, and had strange stuffed animals stuck to the walls. It was wondrous.

So now I frequent bars in my grownup life. One day, while sitting at a trendy bar with my friend and drinking $8 drinks, my friend (we’ll call him Dave, because his name is Dave) said, “Whatever happened to all the dive bars, you know, someplace dark and dingy where you could get a Pabst Blue Ribbon for $2? Like Misty’s and Jack’s? I miss those places.”

I agreed. As a poor grad student, quarter taps and happy hour food warmed over Sterno were a staple. How did students even survive in this town? Sure, we’ve lost some good dives, but there had to be some true dive bars tucked into the inauspicious corners of the city.

Thus “dive bar night” was born. Once a week Dave and I get out of our comfort zone and go to a bar that might be a dive, drink cheap drinks, and evaluate the joint on the basis of its “diveyness”. The important thing to remember here is that a low dive score or a high one is in no way a critical indication of the establishment. Re-read that first line, I like bars. If it’s not a good dive bar it may be simply a good example of a different type. I’d almost say there are no bad bars, but not entirely. If they serve me warm or flat beer I’m gonna call them on it. Just sayin’.

-Bailey Burck