Bathroom graffiti not as cool as you think
When you think “bar bathroom,” you almost certainly think of a room so covered in graffiti that you can no longer see the walls underneath.
It seems commonplace to expect these bathrooms to be plastered with tags and pictures — or even phone numbers to call if you’re “looking for a good time” — but is it always necessary?
After speaking with several bar managers, door men and DJs around Calgary, it is clear that in almost every circumstance, graffiti is not welcome. Many managers mentioned that they enjoy graffiti at other establishments when it fits the style, but more often than not graffiti is considered an undesirable nuisance. Especially when the establishment’s vibe aims to be modern and clean.
Cary Chang, DJ and owner of Habitat lounge, when asked about graffiti, mentioned the “broken window theory”. This theory, developed by James Q. Wilson, states that when a potential vandal sees that an act of vandalism has been committed already — they are more likely to vandalize. This can, in theory, lead to other increasingly distasteful behaviours — like breaking a window and/or an increase in crime rates in otherwise crime-free areas.
Some places, usually ones with a more rustic feel, let the graffiti stay or clean it up less often. Alan Lindsay, part-owner and manager of Broken City, mentioned that staff like the artwork in the bar’s bathrooms, and although they use to clean it up, they eventually decided that it provides more to the establishment than it takes away. Now they’re subsequently known for their unique, graffiti-covered bathrooms.
But even though bar patrons might love the graffiti-adorned walls, and you may think it’s a great idea to leave your own mark after your umpteenth beer — most places don’t feel the same way. Essentially, it might be cool to you but it’s a real hassle for the bars.
Even though you’ll probably get away with scribbling on the inside of the bathroom stall, keep the graffiti where it’s welcome.