Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This is a Bar: Bob & Barbara's

You'll hear it often when talking to freinds, Both hipsters and tweeners alike: "such and such place is a just a cool dive, man. Just go there with your freinds, have a few beers, hit up the jukebox. It's not crowded and there are no assholes".

Hey, I have an idea: Instead of going to a bar where nothing is going to happen, how about I just buy a case of beer, have you all over, and we can play your favorite Teardrop Explodes record and save our goddamn time and money.

Royal Tavern. The Dive. McGlinchey's. The Pub on Passyunk East. 12 Steps Down. Dirty Franks. These are the bars within proximity of the Western edge of Bella Vista, where the "editorial staff" of this blog are located. They are fine places (well, some are, but that's another post) for sure, and you can't blame them for being friendlier to insular groups who sit at tables and don't mingle. They are, after all, neighborhood bars.

The tween' type, however, needs a dependable place for the unpredictable. Seeing as us tweeners are constantly on the outer circle of different groups, there are weekends where we have the scoop of everything going on, and weekends where we don't know a damn thing. Plus, we don't have the scenester desire to go see every sloptastic indie band, every art opening, and every "did this silly motherfucker just play Tears for Fears followed by Kriss Kross?" DJ night.

Luckily, Bob and Barbara's fills the emergency quarterback role for the tweener. Now, Bob & Barbara's is a Philly institution that has been written about plenty, but I want to look at this from the angle of the tweener. The first and most essential quality Bob & Barbara's provides for the tween' is a rotating cast of characters. On a given night, you will see popped collars, art students, disgruntled hipsters who live in Rittenhouse for some reason and unsurprisingly don't like it, meatheads, and the occasional drag queen (never been for one of these nights). You will see these types filter in and out in the space of an hour. It is usually crowded, but not packed, and the disparate characters mix better than you think...Must be the organ jazz.

Of course, this mix creates the likelihood of a night that goes someplace you don't expect. Without getting into details that will cost me my employment, I'll just say it happens enough to keep me coming back. And no, I didn't sleep with a drag queen.

So what is it about B&Bs that sustains it tweener's dream of contrasting social groups coming together under the guise of a whiskey shot and a well-past-its-trend-date PBR? Three factors:

1.) Location. Bob & Babara's is in a neighborhood vacuum. Situated south of the yuppie Rittenhouse, and north of a neighborhood that I'm sure is fine but I can't recall the name, B&Bs is less likely to be taken over by gentri-neighborhood scenesters who will give you the ole' paranoid eyeball.

2.) Spacing. An underrated apsect of bars. Enough stools at the wraparound bar, tables that are unobtrusive, and plenty of standing space. You have the option to interact however the hell you want, and you can have fun showing up with just one other person.

3.) The aforementioned organ jazz. Who wouldn't like this funky shit? They even make sure to throw in a Jimmy Smith tune every other night. The fact that the music has a universal quality ensures you get a diverse set passing through.

That is all I have to say about my current favorite spot. So, save yourself that night of predictability and come out; unless you are from Nothern Liberties...Stay the fuck away.

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