When a certain magic takes hold, a bar becomes a memory palace that stands apart from other social spaces. It captures our imaginations, tells our stories.
Bars are places where we make and keep friends, form community and, even if we don’t realize it, bars shape how we think of ourselves.
You can also get liquored up there, which helps.
Calgary is a city of iconic bars, and a wasteland for many more. Names people know, places you want to see and be seen.
Each one unique, and when one closes, a little something in us shuts, too.
Bar philosophy (yeah, it’s a thing)
Think of the King Eddy, the Shamrock, the Cecil, and so many before them: The Republik, Westward Club, The Night Gallery or the Electric Avenue strip.
Each a different place, with a different crowd and a different vibe. All gone.
You can no longer sit in one of these places and say, “This is where B.B. King came to play after his show at the Saddledome.”
You can’t point to the chair next to you and say, “Ralph Klein decided to run for premier while drinking there.”
You can’t say, “I saw Nirvana play on this little stage,” or “Your mother and I conceived you after a night here.”
Richard Ocejo, a sociology professor at City University of New York, has spent a lot of time thinking about bars, ever since he stumbled into a gentrifying dive in New York City’s Bowery district.