How to: Bar Crawl

2013-06-15 19.06.00

The bar crawl is, technically and by Go Go Go standards, a form of travel. You move from one place to another. You have adventures along the way. You see things other people do not (and, perhaps, should not) see. And you clearly mark yourself out as a tourist. No one bar crawls to their regular corner tavern. There is a theme, a mission, an occasion–often silly or superfluous, but nonetheless real.

This past weekend I was invited to one of the best-organized amateur bar crawls I’ve ever seen. (This is not to say the folks involved were amateur drinkers. Far from it.) But here are some tips I picked up from the masterminds of this event.

1) Schedule

These folks had a schedule, published on the Facebook event page, and they stuck to it. That made it incredibly easy for latecomers (like me) to join in. They said they were going to be at Happy Village at 6, and they were there on the dot. It’s sometimes desirable to veer off-course while you’re traveling, but it’s useful to be more strict if you’ve got a big group to coordinate.

2) Location

You either need a centralized, walkable location (as this one had, around Wicker Park/Ukrainian Village in Chicago) or a solid method of transportation that the crawlers are not in charge of piloting. If you’re super-fancy and annoying, this means renting a bus or limo or trolley. If you’re a normal person, it means basing your bar crawl around public transit. The bonus of the public transit option is that you get to research new bars that you’ve never been to around the stops that you don’t frequent. The downside is that you’ll act obnoxious in front of normal people just going about their days. Be cool. Don’t yell. Don’t vomit. You’re in public, doofus. Act civilized.

3) Pacing

One bar per hour seemed to work pretty well. The locations were all within a few minutes’ walking distance from each other, and the pace meant that if you got one drink at each bar (especially if that drink was one of the cheap specialties of these dive bars, like PBR or Hamm’s), no one was getting too horrifically drunk. (If you get more than one drink at each bar, well, you’re a grown-up and you can make your own choices. But don’t expect anybody to carry you.)

4) Entertainment

Of course, on a bar crawl, the drinking and the crawling are the main entertainment. But on this particular bar crawl, there was free (!) pool to shoot at one stop and a Blackhawks game to watch at the end of the night. In addition, we stopped at Wendy’s (don’t judge, it was conveniently located and cheap) for dinner mid-way through, and someone got a kid’s meal with toys and games in it. Just imagine how fun one of those old-school folded-paper fortune tellers is when you’re intoxicated in a large group. (Answer: pretty fun.)