valhalla

The reason why I love Valhalla is all in the name, apt and prophetic as to the courage needed to cross into the threshold. Located on Red River it is unlike the glamour of surrounding 6th street with its chain bars. Red River businesses follow the trend of real Austin, whatever that is. Wait; let me try to define it: a weird city in love with the music and itself, living beyond its means or appearing to live below it, ignoring the social plight that many of its residents face as we walk past the homeless shelter to buy a drink and fend off people begging for cigarettes and compassion.

An epic dive bar, the journey through the doors means passing through a wave of pee from drunken 6th street and those not able to get into the homeless shelter just a block over. The haze of ammonia means that not every annoying person will brave the walk. It is not uncommon to see people steer clear of that side of the street let alone cross their way through. Those that go in still can grate the nerves, but at least you have in common with everyone else a why-the-hell-not attitude.

Once inside it is small and dark, a dive bar for the afterlife, with emphasis on the drink and the conversation. They have arcade games to chill with, album covers tacked up on the wall in the way of art (and musical selection), and a jukebox. Of course they have their busy days but for the most part it is not a long wait for drinks. Fairly priced and with a strong pour, there is no feeling of being jilted. Some nights they even have a DJ spinning real records. It is nice to know that their records are not just for appearances but of practical use as well. Much like the name itself, the only bragging rights in Valhalla is to die in battle and make it to the great hall. And the only ones who will care are the ones already there. Who would not want to have been there, at least once in their nightlife?

A.J. Whitaker

A.J. Whitaker is from San Antonio who decided to make it big in Austin. Every day she curses the traffic and all the other people who had the same idea to move. When she is not passing judgment on businesses she is submitting fiction to literary journals. Follow her success and lack of it, on her personal blog www.smashlin.com.