What makes a dive bar? Some say pulltabs. Or waitresses over 50. Or grizzled regulars bellied up at the bar, who've been there since the doors creaked open for the day. Cheap wood paneling. Meat raffles. A lack of palatable foodstuffs, hipsters, a dance floor or a stage. A moniker that involves the possessive of some old dude's name.
I say it's all of these, and none of these. Like so many things, a dive bar is a place with a certain kind of feeling. Sure, the staff might be cranky, but you feel at home. When you order your Grain Belt Premium or Seven and 7, it doesn't cost you more than four bucks, and often you wind up with two for that price.
No one expects to be entertained by you, and you sure don't expect to be entertained. That's what your liquor is for. All you need is that PBR, Powers and water, or Beam and Coke -- and maybe a friend or two. It doesn't matter where one goes, in any city, village, suburb or township, a dive is a dive and you know it when you walk in and pull up to your own little chunk of Heaven -- a hallowed bar stool or a cracked vinyl booth.
Some have told me I'm nutty for considering this the cream of the crop of Twin Cities dive bars. They say it's not a dive at all, it's just a bar. Psh. Forgive my eye roll and dismissive wave at your foolishness. The CC Club could not represent Twin Cities dive bars any better. This is a city that wholly embraces its punky, hipstery denizens, and the best of our dives should reflect that with aplomb. The CC is a place where the most mod, most metal, most geeky, most crusty and most laissez-faire of us can sit back and enjoy a simple cocktail while in the company of a couple middle-agers at the bar. It's not a fashion show. It's not pretentious. It sure as hell ain't a yacht party. It's the best of our neighborhood bars. It's a Minneapolis stalwart, like First Avenue and the Grain Belt sign. It's hearty, greasy food, good people and a great jukebox. It's just the CC Club, the best dive in town, and it's perfect.
A friend told me that the last time he was at Palmer's, there was nearly a fracas involving a man, a two-by-four and another man's head. This potential incident of major danger was averted, but that doesn't change the fact that Palmer's is the sort of place where a two-by-four-wielding whack job might end up. Located in the venue-rich West Bank area, it's a great place to have a couple before heading over to the Cedar Cultural Center, 400 Bar, Triple Rock or Nomad for their worthwhile shows. The bar at Palmer's is pretty tiny, but they've got a great little patio nestled behind the joint with lots of bench space to squeeze in a big, raucous group of you and your extended.
There is no venue more divey than Big V's. All the employees are your parents' age, the decor is sparse, and they've got a few stale candy bars and some chips to quell your whiskey munchies. The bands that play here are rarely star quality. Throat-searing metal, grungy punk, novelty two- or three-pieces and crunchy jam bands are the nightly draw -- a "draw" that one friend calls "the other bands and grandma" since it is rare that there are more folks than that witnessing on a given night. Because of this, the shows are hit-and-miss, but if you see Mouth Babies, Missile Dick or the Marshall Fucker Band on the bill, head on over for a unique, aurally esoteric treat.