University of Wisconsin Madison College Life During the 1960s: Top Ten Off-Campus Bars
University of Wisconsin Campus
It has been numerous years since I was an undergraduate student living on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus. From 1962 until my graduation in 1966 I lived in both dormitories and a fraternity. These were exciting years for me, and I will always remember the student life. Besides attending classes 15-17 hours a week, a lot of time was spent studying in libraries, dorms, and fraternity rooms. When my friends and I weren't studying, there were so many social events such as dorm and fraternity parties, picnics on Picnic Point, and beer suppers with sororities. Another major social event outside of classes and studying was hanging out with your dorm roommates, friends, and fraternity brothers and sorority sisters at one of the many off-campus bars.
Top Ten Off-Campus Bars
As I recollect my student life at the University of Wisconsin during the 60s, these would have to be my top ten bars off-campus:
1. The Badger Tavern: The Badger Tavern, or B.T. as we fondly called it, was located on University Avenue across the street from Agriculture Hall. I'm ranking it as number one because it was the favorite hangout for me and my dorm friends during most of my campus life. Since I lived in the Lakeshore Residence Halls next to Lake Mendota, The B.T. was a lot closer to my dorm than the bars which were on State Street. It was a hit for us because it was small and cozy and had two great bartenders, Joe and Tony. We went there usually on Friday and Saturday evenings to drink pitchers of tap beer, shoot pool, and play the pinball machines. Palooka was my favorite.
2. The Kollege Klub: The Kollege Klub or K.K. was across from the main campus library on the corner of Lake and State Streets. The K.K. was most frequented by the students who were living in the fraternity and sorority houses on Langdon and Lake Streets. It was much bigger than the Badger Tavern, and I remember it having a lot of pictures of football team members. I spent a lot of time there with my fraternity brothers after I pledged a professional chemistry fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma, during my senior year in 1966. When I was taking a calculus course during the first semester of my freshman year, our math instructor held class in the K.K. one late morning right before Christmas break.
3. Johnnie's A-Go-Go: Johnnie's was a small go-go bar located on University Avenue about six blocks east of the B.T. It was a popular spot for my fraternity brothers and I because it had two of the best go-go dancers in town; Alice from Dallas and Chris.
4. The Pub: The Pub was on State Street about two blocks away from the Kollege Klub up towards the State Capitol Building. This watering hole was also a favorite hangout for me in 1966. One of the most interesting activities was sitting on a barstool with a drink next to the window and watching all the different people walk by on the sidewalk.
5. Chesty's: This bar was a favorite hangout for the townies who were noncollege students. I remember it being located on State Street across from The Pub. My friends and I would go there when we wanted to hustle noncollege girls for dates.
6. The Amber Grid: The Amber Grid was formerly known as the Hasty Tasty or H.T. before it was renovated in 1964 or 1965. I never went to the H.T. when I first got to campus, but I have heard stories about a varsity football player throwing knives at the dartboard in this bar during 1962. When my dorm friends didn't go with me to the B.T., we would socialize at the Amber Grid, especially on Sunday evenings when we would eat there because our residence dining hall was closed.
7. The Three Bells: I vaguely remember that this bar was located on University Avenue about halfway between the Amber Grid and Johnnie's a Go-Go. Although The Three Bells was a townie bar, my friends and I would frequent the place to go "buffalo hunting ". "Buffalo hunting " was hitting on or trying to hustle the chicks who were mostly pleasantly plump.
8. Nicks: Nicks was located on State Street away from campus and very near the Orpheum Theater. Unlike the other beer bars ranked 1-7, Nicks served hard drinks and you had to be 21 to enter. You could get into the beer bars if you were 18. After I pledged the fraternity, my closest fraternity brother and I spent a lot of time there. I'll always remember the Greek owner, Nick, and his bartender, Glenn.
9. The Varsity Bar: The Varsity Bar or Var Bar much like The Pub and Kollege Klub was a favorite hangout for campus students. It was smaller than The Pub and K.K. and also had pictures of football players. I don't remember spending much time there with my friends or fraternity brothers.
10. The Paradise Lounge: Paradise like Nicks was a 21-year-old bar. It was located quite a distance from campus in the vicinity of the State Capitol Building. I remember this bar featuring a palm tree. A couple of my fraternity brothers and I spent a few times there.
Although there were other bars that my friends, acquaintances, and I visited during our campus life in the 60s, I will always remember my experiences in these top ten off-campus bars.
The Kollege Klub in 2012
Former Location of the Pub
Top Ten Off-Campus Bars
Which would have been or was your favorite UW off-campus bar during the 60s?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn