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Local Bar Offers Escape from Typical Scene

by Liz Heron

One of the advantages of living in a small town is the lack of pretension. Everyone knows each other, there are no urban hipsters around to impress and sweatpants will be just fine in any social situation.

But Oberlin is no ordinary small town. Most students aren't drawn by the chance to sample the small town life, but are city folk longing for the scenester life, trying their hardest to pretend that Hall Auditorium is the theater district and that "going downtown" means more than stopping at Gibson's for a donut and having a beer at the Feve. But if you're tired of furry coats and indie rock, blue hair and socialists, and if you see another scooter, you just might cry, then stick a few bucks in your pocket, hop on your bike and head to the Village Tavern in nearby Kipton.

The Village Tavern is the perfect place in which to remember that yes, you do live in Ohio. From the moment you walk in the door, Betty the Bartender and a bevy of regulars will welcome you to their world. Homegrown homilies adorn the bar, such as "RememberÉthe toes you step on today maybe attached to the ass you'll have to kiss tomorrow," serving as reminders of the real world. And the Tavern has what any dive bar really requires: pinball, pool and cheap drinks.

And cheap drinks they are. The only beers on tap are Budweiser and Busch, but they cost barely more than a dollar. Betty will serve you any exotic mixed drink you desire for under four dollars. And Pabst in a bottle - which is a little like a hot dog on fine china - can be paid for with your leftover laundry money.

But inexpensive inebriation is not the only reason to come to the Village Tavern. The company in the only bar in Kipton since 1950 is priceless. From Billy Hill (it's true, he'll show his drivers license to any non-believers), who resembles a drunk, down-on-his-luck Santa Claus and prefers to be called Hill Billy, to 12-year-old Matt, who may not drink you under the table but can kick your ass at pool any day of the week, the regulars are a welcome and normal change from the Oberlin bubble. And anonymity, so hard to come by in our own Oberlin small community culture, is absolutely free.

Kipton is easily accessible: for fit and adventurous travelers, taking the Oberlin bike path as far as it will go is your quickest way to freedom from Oberlin and leaves you immune from the dreaded DWI. For those who prefer engine powered rides and have a designated driver, a trip to this bar is as easy as driving a straight line down route 511.

Once you make it inside, evidence of how far you are from campus is no further than the jukebox. Country music fans will know they're home when they check out the exclusive roster of Garth Brooks, Travis Tritt and the Dixie Chicks, but for those who cringe at the sound of country crooning, there are a few consessionary classic rock albums scattered here and there.

Patrons will soon be able to add their own musical stylings to the Tavern crowd, as the owner hopes to implement a karaoke night sometime in the future. But a new kareoke machine is dependant on more business, which may be the one way to ruin this bar's relaxed atmosphere.

From "Rescue 911" pinball jaws of life, (2500 points!) to dive bar staple video trivia, the Village Tavern is a great opportunity to leave your hipster academic lifestyle behind and get a little real world exposure.

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Copyright © 2001, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 129, Number 13, February 9, 2001

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