Bars and Pubs
Clink, the sound of glasses being raised in cheers to an English victory. Along with the reoccurring chant of “it’s coming home”, this sound has been ever so present in the pubs throughout London in the last few weeks. The citizens of England gathered in masses within the insides of pubs throughout the country. They were, and still are a place to celebrate; a place to laugh, to cry, to shout and to live. How could you not fall in love with the pub scene?
Many emotions have been observed throughout the pubs during my time in London. The high point of pub life was felt during the extremely intense penalty shootout between England and Columbia. With two more kicks to go, Columbia is up to shoot. As the ball whistles through the air, miraculously Jordan Pickford, the English goalkeeper, saves the shot. The crowd around me erupted in celebration. However, the celebration ended quickly as England still had to score their final attempt to advance to the next stage. As I take a large, nervous gulp from my pint the crowd around me explodes with excitement as England scores their last shot. They had done it. As I stand in awe in Oneil’s Irish Pub, the all too familiar chant has started again, and I have experienced true (winning) football in England.
There has never been time where I have felt this sort of togetherness in an American bar. The whole culture of drinking and engaging in bar life is completely different across the Atlantic. It seems like everyone sticks to their group of friends and rarely engage with strangers, which is unlike the typical British pub. In my demographic, most of the time people drink to get drunk. They do not care what is going on around them, they are just out to drink and have a good time.
As I went searching for more information about the culture of pubs in England, I stumbled upon my favorite pub in the area, The Swan. Since I have been in London, I have made friends with one of the bartenders, Rob. As we spoke, Rob explained to me the origin of pubs: “You know, the word pub comes from the term ‘public house’, and I think that phrase is a good representation of how people use these places today”.
I agree with Rob. The idea of having a place that is open and welcoming to everyone is crucial in building a strong, warm community. To be quite honest, American bars can be quite intimidating at first. They do not seem as warm and welcoming as everyone clings to their friends and seem to be afraid of most strangers.
In terms of sports, I would conclude that march madness is the closest thing that Americans have to the World Cup. It is a time where everyone is brought together in hopes that their bracket will win them the most money within their chosen pool. It gets intense, people root for teams that they couldn’t care less about, which is part of what makes it so enjoyable and entertaining. College basketball is huge in the United States and the madness of march brings out the true nature of America.
The main difference between this and what I have experienced in England is the lack of community. During not only the World Cup but also your average day at the pub, there is a warmth felt that cannot be found in American bars. Everyone is happy. Pubs are a place where people come to unwind. They stop by after work to have pint and a bite to eat. They may come with coworkers, friends, family or anyone for that matter but it always seems uplifting. The bar setting in my home town of Portland, Oregon can be very welcoming as well. With gigs being played by local bands and as much local beer as you can drink, the scene is quite friendly. The same cannot be said about many bars and pubs in the United States. Public Houses in the US are more “restaurant-ish” as I would put it. They are not as much of a hangout spot as they are here. They are a place a group of people would go to enjoy a nice lunch or dinner without hanging around long to converse with others. I would argue that the food is generally better at American Pubs than it is here, solely because they are more focused on the restaurant atmosphere than that of a bar. Although English pies are fantastic, an American burger could steal my heart any day.
I am not arguing that one is better than the other. American bars and British pubs both have aspects that I thoroughly enjoy. The warm atmosphere and friendly patrons are what have drawn me in to the pubs here in London, and this seems to be a common theme throughout Europe.
In contrast, I am a college student and the culture of American bars can be more appealing to people of my demographic. The World Cup in England was enjoyable to everyone. Whether you are American, French, English, Scottish, or any other nationality, the excitement felt while being in an English pub was unmatched. March Madness will be interesting to view with this new perspective I have gathered from Britain. The pub culture experienced here will be missed, the community I have seen formed will soon be distant but I will do my best to bring the spirit of the pubs back home with me. Cheers.