I wrote about my favorite bar, The Royal Palms, in an essay for Drinking Diaries. When I heard it had closed, I was incredulous—how could they do that to all the fans, past, present and future? But here’s Lenny Leonardo, the former owner of The Palms, quoted in “Last Call for College Bars,” Courtney Rubin’s piece that ran in the New York Times:
“These kids today won’t pay even $2 for a drink…They buy a bottle of Southern Comfort and show up in time to try to get laid. But they just end up throwing up in my men’s room, and I get reprimanded because it looks like I’m the one who let them get this drunk.”
Now I understand that I’m stuck in a romantic vision of collegetown that no longer applies.
In explaining the decline of the college bar, Rubin writes: “These days text messaging, Facebook and Foursquare make it possible to see if a bar is worth the trip (translation: who is there) without leaving the dorm. Meanwhile, location-based mobile apps like Grindr, which point to the nearest available candidates looking for sex or not-quite-sex, are helping dethrone college bars from their place as meat markets.”
I found myself pining for the days when my friends and I would wander around collegetown, heading from bar to bar in search of a crush. We never knew who we would run into, though each bar had its own distinct personality and fan-base. Now, much of that sense of mystery is gone.
Also, the slowness of those nights. Sometimes, we’d hang out for hours at The Palms, sitting in the wooden booths, drinking beer and carving our names. We drank a lot of beer. But now, apparently, hard liquor rules. One senior at Cornell is quoted as saying, “I drink liquor because it takes too long to drink beer.”
Sigh. Here’s the generation gap, rearing its bewildered head.
Readers: College students: Do you go to bars? Do you think the bar scene is dying? Graduates: Do you have a favorite bar from your college days? When’s the last time you visited? Is it still open?