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Photo by PJ Gal-Szabo / Unsplash

Earlier this summer, the closure of the Forest Inn in Arlington marked the death of what its management claimed was “the last dive bar” in Northern Virginia. For more than fifty years, the bar was a haven for day drinkers who took comfort in the fact that the lights were always dimmed, the venetian blinds always drawn, and the two slot machines almost always operational.

At one time, the Forest Inn was also a fixture with suburban Washington, D.C.’s professional classes (local legend holds that the FBI camped out there to spy on Ollie North during the Iran–Contra affair).

Those days are long over.

When the bar’s landlord announced in June that he would not renew the Forest Inn’s lease—citing, in part, the “rough crowd” that congregated outside for smoke breaks—the bar’s owners decided to finish their tenure in style. On their last day, they set up a boombox near the door and blasted AC/DC deep cuts through the afternoon. Regulars circulated in and out, and by 5:00 P.M. all the taps were empty. The bartenders then turned to coolers full of Budweiser, Miller Lite, and Pabst Blue Ribbon. Five dollars a can. Waitresses passed out magic markers, and encouraged patrons to scrawl their memories on the wall. . .

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