What does a 24-hour bar look like at 7 a.m.? Sarah Baird pulls up a round-the-clock barstool at NOLA’s Brothers III to experience the full lifecycle of nightlife’s greatest cultural intersection—the dive bar:
It’s 10 a.m., and Spider is sweeping cigarette butts from the floor with all the finesse of a waiter cleaning up crumbs between courses at Le Veau d’Or. A scruffy, waiflike man who bears a startling resemblances to the broom with which he’s sweeping, Spider hollers through the empty bar, spittle flying in the morning light, “They just throw ‘em on the floor—don’t care a thing for ‘ol Spider! No damn respect.”
The mid-morning sun is cracking through the front window of Brothers III, where I’m anchored at the bar spinning one of the perfectly clean ashtrays with my index finger. In a world so saturated with craft cocktails and drowning in mixologists, the dive bar has become, perhaps, the last true rara avis. While I’ve spent many a long, rowdy night at Brothers III, I wondered: what does a dive bar like this look like when the sun’s rising? What does it look like at high noon? With those questions, my journey to capture the 24-hour life cycle of a bar began in earnest.