Pellegrini bids farewell to a fine dive bar – and the grossest bathroom in town.
Closing night, all is right at the Tap. Walking through the crowded entry, smoke and voices billow in every direction. Up the creaking stairs, where the smell of old beer, urinal cakes and years and years of hard partying fill my nose. It’s hard to believe Mike Wilson, owner of The Tap for the past five years, is throwing in the towel. A harsh economy these days. Mike told me: “No more money … After being in the bar biz for 22 years, it was time to get out.”
The ceiling, an impressive work of art, rolls in a unique wave of wood. A massive, long-horned steer skull stares down at me with hollow eyes. The bar stools have seen better days and so has the floor. I’m getting great grip because of all the old beer and dirt ground into it.
Dollar bills line the wall of the bar, covered in sayings and random art: “S.O.S.”, “How the hell did they get the pool table up here?”, and a lonely dollar that says “Rodney” in bold, permanent marker.
Where the pool table used to be, there are four sheets of wood taped together: a makeshift beer pong table.
I expected nothing less.
The bartender serves me a draft beer, cold and refreshing, with a smile. The red lights over the bar glow like Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Women crowd the small bar tonight. It’s quiet different to see females in this place. This small nook in Mammoth is packed like a can of sardines, and smells like one, too.
More beers flow, but the tears are held back. Some hippie musician takes the mic, loud as a screaming crow in the morning digging through Ghetto trash. The band is 80 Proof, from San Diego. A rambunctious group of white guys five deep, singing reggae tunes, blasting the night away.
Familiar faces and the overpowering stench of perfume and cologne cover up the pungent old bar. Some folks are sad to see it go and some have never been and are just in the right place at the right time. They all agree this radical little spot is going out with a bang. Beer after beer and song after song, the night flows like the raging water slides in Yosemite.
Dive bars are American. How so, you may ask? From our early pubs to cowboy saloons, and from rowdy biker bars to the lonely hole-in-the-wall that looks like Halloween year round, the dive bar started it all.
It’s like fine cheese: the more you age it, the better it is.
The Tap was always here for a smile, game of pool, no showering hippies trying to seduce you with the smell of pit hair, and maybe some late night play.
Yes, this place is wonderful after you get over the smell.
The night wears on, almost 11:30 now, and the bar has about 150 people crammed into it. The floor is shaking because of all the people dancing, hands in the air, for the band that is rocking the roof off the place.
When the band’s set comes to an end, so does the Tap. Mammoth locals thank you, Mike Wilson, for the drunken stumbles home, that late night hook up in the grossest bathroom in town, and all the cold beer we could ever drink. Closing night was worth it and I wish it had never ended. Goodbye Tap. You will be missed by many.