Memory Lane: Dee’s Cafe

Since we’re talking about Dee’s Cafe (and we were, weren’t we?), one of the questions/ideas posed to me via email from Kim Z was: memories of Dee’s.

If you don’t know Dee’s, you have never been a hipster living on the South Side (or close by). Dee’s was the place where the goth, pierced, band boys, the tattooed, hair-dyed, theater divas, the underground denizens and alternative news journalists of Pittsburgh gathered. And played pool.

Or so I recall it.

Although most of the blog-o-sphere knows me as a perfectly respectable married-mother-of-two type of girl, I had my wild years. (Dad, you may want to stop reading here.)

I first walked into Dee’s as an under-age undergraduate of Duquesne University. “Back in the day”, the South Side was not nearly as frequented as it is now, and carding was nearly unheard of at Dee’s Cafe. (This would change right around the time I turned 21, conveniently enough.)

I ordered a Greyhound.

Yeah, I was wild and crazy all right.

Once I got the hang of actually going to a bar, I drank Rolling Rock pony bottles (raise your hand if you remember those) and shots of tequila. I hooked up in the back booth. More than once, and with more than one boy (although not in the same night). I learned how to play darts — and wasn’t too shabby either.

My first last call was in Dee’s Cafe.

I remember sitting in the back booth when Dee’s got raided one night. I was there with my roommate Joe (and about 50 other people I knew); I did not have my ID on me. The cop who interrogated my booth was kind enough to let Joe go to our apartment, get my ID, and bring it back.

I lived three blocks away from Dee’s, and had a boyfriend who lived two blocks away from Dee’s. At one point, I lived across the street (House of Babes, baby — a whole ‘nother chapter). We were there a lot. Judy, Bill, and Nikki knew us by name and cigarette brand.

I remember Red Masquer banquets, an after-wedding-reception reception, birthdays, and New Year’s Eves. I remember the night my then-boyfriend almost got into a fight with some stranger who was messing with our pool game. I remember some things I would rather forget, although not very many.

When we were dating, Dan and I used to go to Dee’s when we needed to talk things over. It was safe and familiar to us, some place we knew we could go and not be bothered. Most of the time, though, we just went to hang out. At a certain point we didn’t need to talk things over quite as much.

Based on my experience Saturday night (Sunday morning?) it is still the place for hard-drinking, hard smoking, punk rock kiddos. Jen and I scoped out the back booth, and regaled the young couple sitting there with our stories. He had a full-beard and pompadour, a full sleeve of tattooes, and was about 6’2″; she was a pretty blonde with two facial piercings and glasses. I think we amused them. Bill came over, and Jen and I showed him pictures of our children. I was told that I shouldn’t smoke by a 21-year-old whippersnapper — also with a sleeve of tattooes — with the fabulous name Herb (pronounced with the ‘H’; this point was made repeatedly). (And, yes, I know, I shouldn’t smoke. In Dee’s, your own cigarette is redundant.)

And it’s still the bar I think of when I hear this song:

Got any memories of Dee’s Cafe? Or your own Dee’s Cafe in another town? Tell me stories in the comments!