Now and then, in Wichita. we are known for something good. This time Playboy Magazine (Aug. 2010) has designated our favorite counter culture bar Kirby’s Beer Store one of the country’s best “dive bars.”
The article explains that a dive bar gets its name from a term first used in the 1880s to describe an illegal drinking den in someone’s basement.
It also describes a place where the high and low can rub elbows together…the bums and poets…thieves and slumming celebrities.
We don’t have many thieves at Kirby’s and most of the bums take a few classes at Wichita State University. Most of the celebrities are local. We do have our artists, writers and musicians and we have our DJs. And they can be found here. It is a place where everyone gets treated the same and there are few fights. Gays are tolerated along with Goths, hippies and political radicals (even the socialists). No one will provoke anyone over his/her politics or religion.
The Playboy article also says a good dive “wears its history proudly.” Kirby’s has posters that go back to the 1970s including an old opium poster. It has a joke about Nixon and the Watergate Hotel The wall is covered with poster both old and new. If a person gets bored they can read the wall. .
Kirby’s opened some time in the 1970s and at that time there were plenty of other “counter-culture” bars including the Head, A Blackout, and the Riverside Chalet. All were known for their clientele of hipsters, drugsters and intellectuals. Only Kirby’s remains and there’s not much of the drug use going on there anymore.
The list includes:
PLAYBOY'S BEST DIVE BARS, listed by Wichita’s KWCH Channel 12
•Austin: Mean-Eyed Cat
•Boston: Lucky's Lounge
•Dallas: Lee Harvey's
•Lompoc, California: Jasper's
•Memphis: Ernestine and Hazel's
•Miami South Beach: Ted's Hideaway
•Nashville: Springwater Supper Club
•New Orleans: The Saint
•New Orleans: Snake and Jake's Christmas Club Lounge
•New York City: Milano's
•New York City: Subway Inn
•San Francisco: Specs
•Washington, D.C.: The Big Hunt
•Wichita: Kirby's Beer Store