One of my favourite places to go of an evening was the local "bohemian" joint, the Lass O'Gowrie, universally referred to as The Lass. It looked like your regular dive bar, falling on the literal "wrong side of the tracks". It was situated right next to the train line that neatly separated the cosmopolitan, upper-middle class suburb on one side from the favourite hang outs of the local junkie and prostitute population on the other. One of my favourite pieces of graffiti was near there, a road sign where someone had painted over the word 'cameras' so it read "Speed used in this area". I giggled every time I drove past it.
But the Lass, the Lass was wonderful. There was live music most nights, usually played by friends of mine (the local muso scene tended to be fairly close-knit), and also usually free. The food was unexpectedly brilliant, with more vegetarian cuisine than a dirty hippie such as myself could poke a carbon-neutral stick at. It was the only pub I've ever been to that had a cat living on it's premises. I can't imagine how much that cat has had to deal with over the years.
One of the best nights out I ever had in that town was when my friend Guitarstrings Wilson and I headed to the Lass for a few quiet beers. When we arrived, the place was fuller than I'd ever seen it, and most of the people there were friends of mine. Curiously, there was free food circulating, and no-one seemed to be charging me for drinks. I chose not to question this for fear that saying it out loud might somehow make it go away.
Apparently, the venue was technically closed that night for a private function. It was the birthday party of the owner's daughter, a girl I had never actually met. However, because I apparently knew every single one of her close friends, everyone sort of assumed that I had been invited, and that Guitarstrings Wilson was my +1 for the night.
I don't think I even met the host at her own birthday party, but my presence was just sort of accepted, even embraced. I wasn't exactly going to say no to free food and drinks, either.
It is safe to say that I came out that night well under budget.