The long, slow death of our watering holes

Install good sound deadening. I’m amazed at the number of places I go that are loud simply because of poor acoustics and the fact no one bothered to do any thing to mitigate them. I remember way back when riding the school bus it was nothing but chaos if everyone was talking. You were almost yelling at the person across the aisle. And then around highschool the new buses showed up, fancy ones with this perforated ceiling…and it was magical. Everyone could be talking, in a regular voice, and it wasn’t loud, you didn’t have to yell. The only issue occurred when the bus driver couldn’t hear when something was happening in the back of the bus…but you can’t have everything.


Kids these days!

Why back in my day, we buried our heads in dead trees.

Perhaps this article should be titled “The long slow gripe of old people about the death of their watering holes.”

I’m 38. Life changes. Things change. Our perception of things changes but then, so does the way others experience things. There are plenty of bars and cafes around me. Some are starbucks, some are not. As they say, if you go looking for a specific thing then you will either find it or not based on your own biases. But if you leave yourself open to what may come…


Almost all of the responses are geared toward watering holes in the literal sense. I think the article was really more stressing the concept of a third place as anywhere not just someplace to drink with friends. Whole other categories exist that satisfy a good number of the requirements. For instance, my grandfather played bocce at a park that had built and maintained a set of courts, an association was formed to care for it and manage events, but for the most part it is free for anyone to use. There are regulars each day and a varying crowd throughout the week. I think amateur sports, and really any other team or communal hobby, that occur in the same place are a third place for many people.


I’ve never been banned from a bar.

I was banned for life from one…

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You were either drinking too much, or not enough :stuck_out_tongue:


The problem with places like that is that they crank up the music because the owners think that people are doing too much talking and not enough drinking, but, especially if it’s a new owner trying that stunt, it’ll drive off the regulars and not necessarily bring in anyone new, putting the place into a death spiral. Back when I was drinking, I went to a place that styled itself after an Irish pub; they pumped up the jams and the youngish bartender was too absorbed in checking his messages to tend to the customers at the bar, and I knew that the bar wasn’t long for the world, and I was right.

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I’ve discovered such bans only last as long as the lifetime of the manager. When somebody new takes over the slate is wiped clean.


Thank You for the Picture!
only thing different now, is everyone has smart phones and head phones.

i’m pretty sure the “third place” is now reddit - drop by /r/scotland, it’s basically Cheers

For me living here in the Seattle area (Woodinville specificially) I find that the local brewery has become this place. They all have tasting rooms, open in the afternoon, close around 10, are dog friendly, are kid friendly, have a large group of regulars that come in, LOTS of conversation, and just a general fun place to hang out. If you have a local brewery scene in your area that’s where you will find your third home.


It’s been mentioned, but most restaurants and bars have made a very deliberate choice to avoid being a “third place” by playing loud, obnoxious music that drowns out any attempt at conversation. They want you to go there, spend money, and get out as quickly as possible. The main exceptions seem to be fast food, fancy, expensive restaurants, and “family” restaurants like Denny’s, which is where a local group I’m a part of meets up once a month. The waitress there literally knows everybody’s name. If you want alcohol, though, every place you go will be deafening- even the live music acts, supposedly a draw and a source of local culture, will be painfully loud and impossible to enjoy.

Back in college, before my friends moved away, we made our own third spaces, though I never thought of it like that at the time. The local anime club was one, where we’d have conversations before and after the shows. The others were more unconventional- the local video store and supermarket, where we’d spend up to an hour or more picking out movies and snacks before going to one of our houses (which would be a third place for two of us, but not so much the person who was hosting). I wonder now whether our indecisiveness was partly a desire to linger in one of those “neutral” places that we were familiar with. I guess they don’t quite fit all the criteria (the grocery store doesn’t have a “playful mood” or regulars that weren’t us, and the video store never once acknowledged the fact that we visited literally every Friday night for years, despite being a unique local place and not a soulless Blockbuster chain store) but I guess we made do with what was available.

While online places do fill the gap a bit, I find the example of Facebook pretty laughable. It doesn’t exactly “keep a low profile”, and anyone who suggests that it serves as my home away from home deserves a punch in the face. Facebook is as playful and warm a meeting place as the waiting area at the DMV.


For the all the people mentioning a BBS or Reddit, sorry, that isn’t a Third Place (and I ran a BBS for a decade). Third Places are in the flesh where you meet people from your community (hence the lack of class distinction and its leveling characteristics). Sitting alone in your home on a computer isn’t the same thing, though it is something.


And many of us don’t have that same thing, because disabilities and inaccessibility, because communities too far away, etc.

(I’m tempted to launch a Kickstarter for a chain of coffeeshops with no wifi and bouncers that confiscate smartphones at the door.)

Our neighborhood Actual Cafe has an aligned policy. No bouncer needed when you create a culture that’s socially self-enforcing:

We can’t make anyone talk to anyone. We’re not trying to force anything, and we’re not trying to be a pickup joint. We just want to create a space where these things can happen. Because we think it’s interesting, and different, and kinda necessary.
It’s up to you what you do with it.

(full disclosure per GamerGate standards: I was a KickStarter supporter of the cafe and its joint venture restaurant next door, Victory Burger)

Sure. I’m not condemning those spaces. I grew up in my teens and twenties in them. I’m just saying that they aren’t the same thing being discussed in the article.

Hi Raines! I know you.

That said, the Actual Cafe, if you go there during the week before 6pm, is entirely filled with people using laptops.

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when the subreddit is online and alive and the conversations are moving quickly, it’s better than most bars - the topical focus matters - crowded bars are too often a skunky beer-bong of random

Local Starbucks (only coffee shop in walking distance) I am a regular, there are other regulars and I talk to numerous people that I have no connection to other than the Starbucks. Conversation exists between people who have not come together to the Starbucks. Now it is a bit of an oddity as it is has a larger local area with few other options compared to some of the ones that seem to match your article.

However a short car ride away there is a coffee shop that I used to frequent when my kids were younger that was independent as well as a set of regulars and when i go back there the number of regulars has increased. It also has huge amounts of local competition some of which also have a pool of regulars that talk to each other.

I think the local coffee shop does exist to fit the criteria or maybe it is just north of the border.

My dad plays bocce every single day and meets friends for coffee when not doing that.
Lots of working professionals are connected all the time and probably don’t really have that “final” hour of the day. There is no punching out anymore.
I live in a city, so there are gathering spots, which is nice. The burbs don’t usually have as many.
Here in San Diego it’s beer central with tons of brewpubs, beer bars and tasting rooms where you can chat it up. As long as noted above, they don’t have the music cranked up.
My favorite time to go sit and relax out at one of our regular spots is lunch on a Sunday.