Sip and Shoot

The real dirt on the new Dirt Bar: My night as a stranger in an anti-mainstream dive

The real dirt on the new Dirt Bar: My night as a stranger in an anti-mainstream dive

News_Dirt Bar_downtown
Photo by Meredith Riddle

When the news hit that The Dirt — the anti-mainstream, black-walled, lighting averse, dive-ass former Heights hangout of the likes of The Foo Fighters, Muse, Audioslave (and Lady Gaga) — was moving downtown, I wondered if the bar would be able to maintain its grunge or its low profile.

But the new location, which has been open since January after a two-week closure in between locations — hasn't lost its special vibe.

Now housed directly across the street from Houston Pavilions and the House of Blues, it's remarkable how well it's maintained its please-don't-find-us air. Although the address is now 1209 Caroline St., the neon "222" address from the old place still remains the only signage. And for those that ever stepped inside the former location of Josephine's cafeteria-style Italian eatery, the change in interior and demeanor is a peculiar shock.

To be fair, I am certainly not The Dirt's intended audience or, probably, its usual clientele. And when I approached a tattoo-sleeved and white contact-spectacled bartendress for my vodka soda, my companion and I were the only two people in the bar for what would have, at other establishments, been happy hour.

 There's also a a wall-mounted jukebox, which at that moment was screeching Murderdolls' "I Love To Say Fuck," the chorus of which you can probably deduce from the title. 

We had interrupted the bartenders' dinner on the small, Caroline-facing blood-red patio, which managed to seem dark despite the sun-shiney 6-o'clock weather, but they were quite kind, if surprised to see us.

The interior is bigger than the old place, and seems vast in part because of the enormously high ceilings and in part because the interior consists of nothing but eight or so booths, a photo booth and a bar. I have to conclude that part of The Dirt's appeal as an after-party spot for transient musicians is that it is virtually indestructible.

There's also a a wall-mounted jukebox, which at that moment was screeching Murderdolls' "I Love To Say Fuck," the chorus of which you can probably deduce from the title.

The only item that struck me as a touch out-of-place (myself not included) was the impressive selection of fruity-flavored vodkas. Gotta keep the groupies happy.