Everyday Life

Elgin Pub Crawl

When I first saw the sign for the pub crawl, I got excited. My mind instantly thought back to my joyful college years at UIUC when I would watch others participate in pub crawls with envy. Ya see, I never really joined groups or participated in group activities because I was either working, sleeping, or watching Netflix–so I never went on pub crawls. But this was my chance! I finally had the chance to be a part of the pub crawl and I had an awesome friend to go along with me. Also, the pub crawl had some perks: a $300 raffle, lanyards, and drink specials. How could ask for more? The whole week I was excited for this crazy pub crawl because I would get to hang out, check out the local bars in the area, and maybe make some new friends.

And then I found out the pub crawl went from 6pm-10pm. Who puts a timeline on a pub crawl?

Old people.

Because the median age in Elgin is about 55 years.

On Friday, Emma, my pub crawl buddy, picked me up and we made our way to the downtown area. She explained to me then, in the car, that the last time she went mostly old people participated. Normally, that would have been fine. I don’t mind old people and I even consider myself an old person sometimes. However, the pub crawl was supposed to be full of youth, joy, and drunkenness! I wanted the streets littered with stupid boys playing in traffic and giggling girls struggling to walk correctly–like the old days in good old Champaign. I wanted the pub crawl to be a cesspool of alcohol and fun. Unfortunately, it started at 6pm. Very few people are blasted by 6pm, especially in Elgin. Apparently.

When we crossed the bridge into the downtown area, it was less populated than I’d ever seen it. Newspaper/garbage tumbleweed was blowing all around. An elderly couple wearing their pub crawl lanyards made their way to the bar on the other side of the bridge and railroad tracks (I don’t know why they were in the crawl). Downtown Elgin did not look like they were having a pub crawl. It looked like there’d been a crime committed and the police had sectioned off that area of the city. But I am stubborn if nothing else, so we did the bar crawl.

I tried a bourbon and ginger ale at the first “pub” we were at. It was truly interesting.

Jim Beam and Ginger Ale
Jim Beam and Ginger Ale

 It was a little too sweet, but most liquors are for me. I still liked it, but I’d probably stick with my vodka sodas. I mean, I am both poor and I like to pretend that I’m drinking water when I’m actually drinking alcohol. That was it for the first pub. We felt like we were imposing because they had run out of seats at the bar and we were seated in a giant booth. Waiters kept coming up to us and bystanders silently judged us for taking up a 6-person booth. It was the only place we could sit!

The second place we hit was Martini Room. That was not my first time in the Martini Room. It wasn’t even my second time in the Martini Room. To date, in the multiple times that I have been in the Martini Room, I have never enjoyed their hand crafted or however crafted martinis. I usually had beers. For the pub crawl, I made an exception. I had their $3 Mystery Shot, which was featured in other pub crawl locations.

Because I am a classy lady, the first thing I asked the bartender was what color the shot was. If it was anything other than a neon color, I would be taking no shots. Strangely enough, I like my shots to be sweet and sour, so much unlike my drinks. He seemed a little weirded out by the question, but went with it. It was pink. A pink shot was always a good decision in my head. l. It tasted like sugar. Emma made fun of me because instead of taking a shot like most people, I sipped at the shot. It’s not like there was any reason to rush. It was a sweet, mostly non-alcoholic mystery shot. You have to savor the flavors of the mystery shot–or else how are you going to solve the mystery? She didn’t agree with my views, though.

The places we hit up after that were very uncomfortable. One had three tables for an an entire bar. I still can’t fathom why they thought that would be enough. The one after that was on the other side of the bridge and railroad tracks. It was more prepared to handle a pub crawl, but it was also just too far and potentially dangerous.

For example: when we decided to go to this bar, a train decided to come by. Not the short Metra train, but the long Union Pacific train that takes twenty minutes to pass. We passed the bridge and waited to cross the tracks to go to this bar (his bar that I always assumed catered to the hobos, the old and grumpy, and the oddball individuals who hung around the Metra station… and taxi drivers). I had negative feelings towards this bar. All of those thoughts and worries were pushed aside when this man across the street from us kept walking closer and closer to the speeding train. See, there were no rail guards on our side of the tracks because it’s a one way street and cars came the other way. So no barrier existed between this man, inching closer and closer to the moving train, and the actual train. I was almost positive I was going to witness someone’s death or instantaneous amputation. I kept my mouth shut because I suffer from the bystander effect and there are a bunch of dangerous crazies in Elgin (that is not a joke and a very serious concern of mine).  This man’s hand actually went out in front of him, but he didn’t fully extend. He didn’t move for the rest of the train and I felt like I could breathe again.

After that, I needed a drink myself.

I didn’t get one at that bar though. It was pretty old school and had a surprisingly good atmosphere, but everyone there was was pretty chummy. I was uncomfortable being in a bar where every single person was chummy with the bartenders. That was one sure way to stick out: to be the un-chummy person in a bar full of chummy people. I walked around like a creep and then we made our way back to downtown area proper.

The next stop on the pub crawl was a pizza place. It is a fancy pizza place with a bar, but still… a pizza place. We drank some water and enjoyed the five feet of wooden deck that the managers let us pub crawl people loiter around. Apparently no one wanted their fancy pizza meals disturbed by people with lanyards and stamp cards. However, it has a good atmosphere too. I have dinner plans there this week. The pub crawl got business for them.

The stop after that was to a bar that wasn’t open. They’d wanted to be open by the pub crawl, but they couldn’t manage it. So that was a little disappointing. Our last stop (because we only needed 7/9 stamps to enter the raffle) was a well established bar with a beer garden. I love me some beer gardens. I do not love me some beer gardens where the first thing I notice is a foul odor, but at least it was only in the entrance area. The actual beer garden smelled like alcohol and teen spirit. The bar hired a DJ for that night and he was probably one of my favorite DJs of all time. He was an older man with white/grey hair. He played classics like “I Like It, I Love It” by Tim McGraw, “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” by Brooks & Dunn, and, my favorite, “Party All The Time” by Eddie Murphy. He was the best.

Then some people requested Ke$ha and the listening experience went downhill from there.

And that was the end of the pub crawl for Emma and I. We turned in our stamp cards to enter into the raffle and went home. It was a pretty anticlimactic end to the night. No drunkenness, no debauchery… just drinking and checking out the bar scene… and paying $10 to do it.

Our completed Pub Crawl stamp cards!
Our completed Pub Crawl stamp cards!

It was a pretty exciting night, right? Right?

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