Bar Folk

an introduction

Having made my life, especially in the last few years, in bars, I’ve learned that, often, some of the most interesting people and their stories can be found there. Whether you’re there celebrating a birthday or an anniversary, or you’re looking for the person you think will be the love of your life, or you’re just trying to drown out the chaos and madness of the world around you, you’re going to run into people with stories.

What makes these stories more interesting, often too, is alcohol. The anthropologist Mary Douglas talked about how drinks are for acquaintances, and meals are for friends. Bars, then, are for acquaintances, as we choose to share an experience that changes us first on the biological level as our perception and thought processes change under the influence then on the psychological level of we choose to open up or engage in the various activities one might do at a bar.

Another concept from anthropology comes to mind when thinking about bars, too–the liminal space. In a bar, we are not truly here or there, instead occupying a place in between, a place where so much can happen both good and bad. In this space, we reinvent ourselves constantly, telling stories to people we know and people we don’t, creating a narrative that exists in that space for that time. Sometimes, those stories follow us, sometimes they don’t. What matters is what happens there, though, in that moment.

It’s these thoughts, and the myriad experiences I’ve had in bars across that world, that draw me to bar folk. Being in a bar, and talking to the people that are there at the same moment in time, will always be something I look forward to. For love, for sadness, for the ability to see those toeing the line between madness and sanity, all of this can be found when talking to Bar folk.




Sam Slaughter

Sam Slaughter is the author of the chapbook When You Cross That Line and the story collection God in Neon. He is the Spirits Editor for The Manual, and lives and works in the NY/NJ area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *