The other day, I was at a bar.
Specifically, I was at Pappy’s Bar and Grill on a Tuesday night for my friend’s birthday. It was surprisingly full considering it was a Tuesday. There were probably 20 people there, while the streets and restaurants outside were empty. We sat at the far end of the room, with the unique vantage point of being able to see everyone in the bar that night. This was the first time that I considered Pappy’s to be a potential field site.
What are some of the cultural aspects of weekday bar hopping? Well for one, there is a common language. Blue Moon and Roman Coke wouldn’t mean much to a 6 year old (hopefully) but here it is the common tongue. There is the ritual of how to order at the bar, as well as tipping procedures. On the weekends, people are there to party, but that night, people were there for other reasons. It was a lot more subdued.
Is this where some of the ethical concerns come into play? You can ask people why they are here, but unless it is for a birthday or other celebration, you won’t get far into the true motives. Perhaps it is a form of escapism, or trying to gain social acceptance, or to forget about the past. Maybe it’s just boredom. But is it my place to pry into people’s personal psychologies in search of an overall bar culture?
What larger issues does this bring into the conversation? By studying this bar, perhaps we are getting a glimpse into Middle America. Everyone here appears to be middle class. Those on the street aren’t allowed in, as they can’t afford it. Also possibly the culture of drinking, and how age restrictions make it feel like a rite of passage. Perhaps by understanding this bar, we can hope to understand what causes alcoholism and offenses of excess with the intent of preventing such occurrences.
Anyways, that’s what went through my mind Tuesday at Pappy’s.