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Barfly: Dive Bar, Ironic in Name Only

In Culture

For those looking for a true dive drinking experience, the self-labeled Dive Bar on Santa Clara Street, San Jose, is a flagrant case of false advertising. Absent are the shady atmosphere, run-down appearance and rough crowd that connote a dive bar. Instead drinkers are treated to a hip, stylish place, one flashier and more mainstream than any dive. Not that anyone really complains, because Dive Bar is a good place to sit and have a drink.

Even the drunkest wanderer can’t miss Dive Bar. A large, red and yellow neon sign hangs over the entrance; a diver, in a one piece bathing suit and cap, face-planting onto the words “Dive Bar.” Just inside the front door is an expansive lobby: two wall-hugging rows of red leather booths border a large center aisle, each row flanked by a line of round knee-high tables and soft-as-pillows wraparound lounge chairs.

Just past the lounge is the bar;a heavy wood fixture of counter top and glass cabinets. On the center of the bar sits an eye-catching display of commonly ordered hard liquor, bottles stacked side by side under an arch of yellow flourescents. Directly opposite the counter are chairs and round particle-board Ikea tables lined against a red wooden wall.

The back of Dive Bar accommodates a separate spacious room. Accessible through a doorway in a brick wall, it presents a striking contrast to the rest of the joint. Instead of the “red” that characterizes the lounge and bar area, the back is a blue concrete room. On one side is a pay-to-play pool table (75 cents per game), while against the opposite wall is a row of tables and chairs—the perfect place to watch the felted action. A DJ booth sits in the corner by a blue neon martini glass on the wall, where DJs spin Thursday through Saturday.

Dive Bar attracts an eclectic crowd of SJSU students, young urban professionals and middle-aged patrons. Hipsters probably come as well, lured by the ironic use of the name, but hipsters have become so mainstream, they are difficult to distinguish nowadays. Dive Bar has a number of specials to attract customers—usually discounted well and draft drinks, and no cover charges on DJ nights—and as a result, Dive Bar is a fairly popular establishment. Groups of friends cluster around tables while couples occupy the stools. Those who plan to attend might want to arrive early. Those wraparound lounge chairs are perfect to sink into after a day’s work.

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Dive Bar
78 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose

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