An appeal for something more
by Sean-Paul Boynton
I remember my first month at Mount Royal, and the freedom I felt when I was able to walk into a bar right on campus. No driving was necessary, no carpooling arranged; just a hop, skip and a jump over to Wyckham House, and I was able to drink away the sorrows of my first failed quiz. I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.
Of course, even as I settled into this very adult moment, I sensed that there was something amiss about my surroundings. I had frequented the Den at the University of Calgary, and the Gateway at SAIT, before setting foot into the Liberty Lounge, and what I had built up in my mind as the requirements for a university bar was undercut by certain aspects of my new home away from home: no couches or booths; no in-house food service; not the best selection of beverages; no patio (although I did hear stories from the glory days when the present-day smoke pit was an outdoor addition to the Lounge). Not even any artwork on the walls, aside from advertisements.
Don’t get me wrong; my intention here is not to bash our modest comfort zone. I have spent countless hours in the Liberty Lounge genuinely enjoying myself, and I always feel its beckoning call whenever I’m feeling stressed or in the need for company, or even when I walk past its doors. And I know that, come the fall, there will be improvements that will make most of my above complaints redundant. But a bar – college or otherwise – should be more than a place to hang out, or special attractions like a kitchen and a patio. It has to have personality.
I originally came up with an article on the state of the Liberty Lounge because I was worried that, as a great fan of live music, I would have to continue going elsewhere to meet that need. The bands that do come here are not always stellar, and the nights any band graces the stage are feeling few and far between. Why can’t the Lib be treated like another Calgary music venue by the indie scene, like Broken City or the Marquee Room, or even the Gateway or the Den? Why must Mount Royal students, who have no access to convenient public transportation like an LRT, be forced to hitch rides downtown in order to catch a show? Don’t we deserve better?
Yes, I have witnessed great shows here; the four-band bill on March 12 was excellent. But there needs to be a push for more nights like that, where students leave the Lib elated rather than simply drunkenly depressed due to low lighting. Maybe the members of the Students’ Association are actually trying to achieve this, but since they didn’t feel the need to comment for the resulting article above, we’re left to simply guess and make assumptions. Hopefully, we can hear their side before the semester is out. Until then, we’re left with an empty stage, and promises that we can only hope will be kept.