By Mason Johnson
I kind of hate bars. I mean, for the interest of full disclosure, you should know that.
I like karaoke though. Plus, I have a soft spot in my heart for dives.
Hidden Cove, located in Lincoln Square, is a great dive. So great that I didn't even feel the need to use any bad puns in the title of this article (like, for example: "Hidden Cove? More Like Hidden Gem!"). What makes a great dive? I'm glad you asked:
1. The place has to be worn. Not falling apart, mind you. Nor should it seem excessively dirty. If the bar looks well used, like the edges have been leaned on for about ten years too long, but it isn't dirty, looks like it's cleaned often, doesn't have odd crust or fungus growing anywhere, then the establishment you're in is worn in a good way.
2. Drinks should be cheap. If the place looks old and worn, but the drinks are even remotely expensive, then it's not a dive, it's a hipster safe haven.
3. There are regulars, but they don't seem crazy and/or violent. When a man, slamming his fist on the bar, screams (between bouts of gibberish), "I'm gonna kick you in the throat!" you should consider never returning to that establishment again.
I have more rules, but I feel those three are the most important, and Hidden Cove embodies all of them. The bar isn't the newest, parts of it may be falling apart, but it's well maintained and taken care of despite its wear and tear. Drinks are cheap! I'm cheap, so I like this aspect. Finally, the regulars, they either keep to themselves, or are positive and fun to be around. They won't threaten you! And the same goes to the bartenders, who are all amiable people.
Oh yeah, and there's karaoke. One mic, a few TV screens, and enough moving lights and lasers to appease anyone, the setup ain't bad. Not bad at all. The nights will often start with the bartender singing a tune, which puts everyone at ease, gets those nervous of singing a little more willing to get up there and belt somethin' out.
For those of you private-room-karaoking-types, I only have one thing to say: get over it. If there ain't an audience of strangers, then there's no reasons to karaoke. The thrill! The excitement! You don't know what they'll scream at you! Or what horrible songs they'll sing! Why take all that away, all that risk, for a private room?
Anyway, see ya at Hidden Cove. I'll be the guy singing Hall & Oates.
Want more divey karaoke? Feel free to try Alice's Lounge (3556 W. Belmont Ave.) if you're looking for something slightly more hip, or Sidekicks (4424 W. Montrose Ave.) if you're also into darts.
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