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Monday, July 28, 2008

El Amigo Bar

I did a little back tracking this week stepping into El Amigo Bar (3355 Mission Street), the bar I skipped last week because it wasn’t open yet. El Amigo’s new hours start at 6 but the place really doesn’t get going before 7:30 as Alex and Rachel were setting up and getting the place in order on Friday night.

El Amigo and Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack (the address I gave in last week’s post is incorrect, Emmy’s is at 18 Virginia Avenue) are next to each other and share a door and bathrooms which pretty much all they share as they are very different places.

Emmy’s had a vibrant, energetic and colorful sign on the wall by the entrance while finding the bar’s name took me reading an 8 ½ x 11 yellow piece of paper taped on the window next to the dark and cave like padlocked entrance listing its new hours.

Music seems to be a common theme along my journey down Mission Street as the usual Mexican Rachera is playing from the juke box in the bar.

Emmy’s on the other hand, has a DJ spinning many nights as you enjoy your dinner in one of the old fashioned leather booths surrounded by interesting local art hanging from the walls. The bright menu, written in crayon on laminated pieces of paper, and chalkboards showing your drink options, hang above the hall doorway and above the kitchen, differentiate Emmy’s from El Amigo’s interior. The wood thatch fencing nailed to the walls, 2 TVs and pool table are what counts as decoration for the bar. Though it may sound fancy, it really is a run of the mill dive bar.

Why am I talking about Emmy’s so much? Even though they are very different Emmy’s contributes much to El Amigo Bar. I’m sure El Amigo would do just fine on Mission Street as another Mexican dive bar but what it gets from Emmy’s is something truly special… Hipsters.

Hipsters don’t make a large impact on the bar other than the money they spend on their beers. I didn't see them play pool or interact with the bar’s patrons because they mostly hung out in their groups, smoke cigarettes outside the door and waited to be called when their table was ready.

I think I’m getting a little ahead of myself so let me back up. Many of you may already know what a hipster is and have even come into contact with one. Don't worry most of them don't bite though I'm sure a few will. There is a healthy population located in San Francisco but for those of you who don’t what a hipster is you should check out Urban Dictionary and Wikipedia’s definition and history.

Because of their rise in popularity and their recent mainstream growth there has come with it a large anti-hipster movement. I’ve had some conversations recently with people who have had run-ins with the type and now complain about and hate hipsters. A good example of this can be found in the anti-hipster manifesto found here.

I really don’t mind hipsters and many times get a good laugh at their attire of tight jeans, big sunglasses and funky scarves. As long as they aren’t blowing smoke in my face or popping off then I’m cool with them. I’m sure I even have a few friends that have embraced the hipster lifestyle.

An interesting dynamic can be found on this small corner of Virginia Avenue and Mission Street where you can find the wait staff at Emmy’s, who are mostly Rockabilly, the Mexicans playing pool and the Hipsters waiting for dinner all sharing a small area. Everyone’s got their own group to hang with and there isn’t much mixing between the folks. Ever once in a while you can catch a pool player checking out a hipster’s outfit out of the corner of their eye or a Hipster tightening their wallet chain to their belt loop so there’s no threat of it being stolen.

Where did that leave me? I could be placed with the Mexican guys but speaking English and very little Spanish isolates me from them. In my Quicksilver jeans, Gap t-shirt and REI fleece I don’t fit in as a Hipster and without slicked quiff (pompadour hairstyle), turn-ups (turned up cuff on pants) and engineering boots or Converse I’m not Rockabilly.

The good news is that I didn’t come straight from work in my button up shirt, slacks and dress shoes or else I’m sure I would have been shunned and cast off to a corner. Everyone was nice and easy to talk to but next time I’ll consult my Urban Dictionary and Spanish English translator so I fit in a little better.


Unknown said...

Gadiel -

I found you from Kate's site. What a funny idea... Emmy's rules. Did you get a 40 club card?

Where you going this week?


Anonymous said...

Who knew I could learn so much about hip urban culture from you? My guess is that Andy, Jim and Bryan were all hipsters in their youth. Me, I was the drunken jackass spitting on and making fun of the hipsters.