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University of Wisconsin Madison College Life During the 1960s: Top Ten Off-Campus Bars

Updated on April 28, 2016
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Paul was a student at the University of Wisconsin in the 60s and also served in the Navy during America's involvement in the Vietnam War.

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College Life

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, dorm and fraternity rooms. When my friends and I were'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.

The Kollege Klub in 2012

Top Ten Off-Campus Bars

Which would have been or was your favorite UW off-campus bar during the 60s?

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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. The 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 Signa, 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 different people walk by on the sidewalk.

5. Chesties: 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 this bar being 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.


© 2011 Paul Richard Kuehn

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      badger ghost 5 years ago

      The B.T. was STILL the best bar in the mid to late 80s when it was my regular hangout!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I have fond memories of the bartenders, Joe and Tony. Were they still around in the mid to late 80s?

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      bill disney 5 years ago

      The Three Bells was located near the campus on University Avenue between Park and Francis Streets

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thanks for the exact information and reading the hub.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Sounds like you have some fond memories of those days. Wonder how many of those same bars exist today? It has been a while since I have thought of "go go dancers." Ha!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Peggy, it has been almost 14 years since I was last on the UW Madison campus. When I was there, the Kollege Klub and Pub were still there. The others were gone. Thanks for the comments.

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      Ann S. MD 4 years ago

      I came to campus in the summer of 1966 and entered medical school in the fall. The next 4 years were a little different. The anti Vietnam war demonstrations changed "panty raids" to more dangerous and violent protests. My husband and I lived on State St, above a pizza place and we had tear gas cannisters thrown into our stairwell. Even though we lived on State St, being a med student and a grad student, we didn't participate much in the drinking scene. But if we did, we went to a bar that was across from Camp Randall on Regent Street. Does anyone recall the name of that bar?

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Ann,

      Ann, Thanks for reading and the comments. I remember that there was a pizza place on the corner of ? and State Strteet called Paisans. Did you live above there? Yes, I remember the bar across from Camp Randall, but I'm not sure of its name. Was it the Stadium Bar or Jingles?

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      FarmAnimal 3 weeks ago

      I remember the 3 Bells very well. It had the best bratwurst ever. I was in the AF at Truax and we were told to never wear our uniforms off campus because of the hatred of the military near campus. I've spent many nights in that bar and it often didn't go well. I went from Madison to Viet Nam for 2 years. I will never forget the disrespect we got from University students. That why I really enjoy every defeat of the u of w football and basketball by my OSU Buckeyes. LOL

    • Paul Kuehn profile image
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      Paul Richard Kuehn 2 weeks ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Actually, the Badger Tavern or BT was much more of a hangout than the 3 Bells. I only remember spending time in the 3 Bells in 1965. I'm sure that most of the liberal progressive university students still disrespect the military. Thanks for your comments.

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