If you’re one of those people who spends their life on Twitter and needs a respite from the continual outrage (hello!), may we recommend you follow @PicturesofDives?
The account is exactly what its handle promises: a stream of pictures of beloved dive bars, sometimes with stories. In the past year of its existence, it has attracted 35,000 followers and posted pictures of 900 bars from all 50 states. In that sense, it’s similar to the beloved account @NonstandardMcDonalds, except that it’s not so much about architecture as it is about nostalgia.
SFGate has an interview with Brandon Hinke, the account’s mastermind. Hinke started the account after moving to Chicago last year (he was in D.C. and his girlfriend, whom he met in a dive bar, was in Oakland, and they decided to move to the middle). The pandemic had started just after he arrived and he was unemployed and didn’t know the city well, so he started driving around at random. On one of his excursions, he came across a joint called the Windy City Lounge in Humboldt Park. He took a picture and posted it on Twitter with the caption, “Saw this spot while out today and this is like the platonic idea [sic] of what a bar should look like.”
The photo immediately went viral, and other people began posting photos of their own favorite dive bars. Hinke took this as a sign that, in the time of quarantine, there was a powerful need for dive bar content and started the @PicturesofDives account (it’s also on Instagram, where his mom, Nancy, faithfully comments on every post). His standards for diveyness are fairly relaxed, and he posts almost every picture he receives unless it’s blurry or the bartender is obviously wearing a tie.
“It’s been fun,” he told SFGate. “People love to send me stuff and tell me stories about the old crusty guy at the end of the bar or about a bar in Philadelphia where they had their wallet stolen the day the Eagles made the playoffs, and the guy who stole it felt bad, so he mailed it back and the owner got it the day the Eagles made the Super Bowl.”
Hinke has made many online friends through the account, and he has since found work as a janitor. Now that bars are opening again, he may finally meet them in person, “if anyone wants to have a cheap beer it’s someone who does physical, cheap labor and doesn’t get paid well.” (He also has a Ko-Fi account if you’d like to buy him a beer.)
The SFGate article goes into greater depth about what @PicturesofDives meant to people who were cut off from their family and friends and favorite dives for more than a year. It’s worth a read.