From picking up friends at the airport to having a meal at Lucha Libre taco shop, I cannot begin to tell you how often I’ve driven up I-5(the 5) North, looked to my right at the Aero Club, and said to myself, “next time”. As it turns out, “next time” needed to be sooner rather than later, as the bar is slated to close down sometime next spring. While sitting around looking good in my underwear last night, I asked friends via Facebook if they had ever been to the Aero Club, and if so, what they had thought of this landmark bar that has been around since 1947.
“I love Aero Club! It’s not supposed to close until next spring, so you have some time”, said one friend.
“We used to go there all the time!”, said another.
“There’s a poem about it in my book“.
As fate would have it, I received a phone call from my roommate, asking if I could bring him his work badge. His job happened to be a few miles from the Aero Club, so why the hell not? It was time for me to see what this place was all about.
It was a little after 7 PM on a Sunday, so I was able to find parking right near the bar. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, finding parking that close is like finding a $20 bill in your unwashed jeans or an extra condom in your nightstand drawer. The outside looked run down. I already felt at home.
Inside, the AC was cranked to full. There were zero traces of sunlight coming through the blackout window, and Christmas-esque lights hung from the ceiling. Behind the bar, I saw the 1200 different types of whiskey that the bar’s mediocre, official website boasts. In fact, aside from a few pictures, there’s zero information about the bar’s history, no historic photos, nothing appealing at all. However, since the place is eventually closing, I suppose it doesn’t matter.
I usually don’t drink whiskey. In fact, if there’s anything to know about me, it’s that I identify with the protagonist of the Evil Dead series, Ash Williams, when it comes to drinking beer. The cheaper, the better. That being said, I settled for a pint of Stella and took a seat at the end of the dead bar. The satellite radio station belted out 60’s and 70’s rock tunes, which was a nice change of pace for me. Whenever I go to dive bars, patrons tend to flock to the digital jukebox and fill it with various top 40 hits, country, and Journey. I was able to enjoy my beer while listening to the Zombies and Bob Dylan, not goddamn “Don’t Stop Believing” or Garth Brooks for the nth time.
Across the bar, I watched a man make an ass out of himself with, what I assume was, an ex girlfriend or former love interest. “He thinks that because I let him sleep with another woman four years ago(I didn’t pick up the rest)”, she said. He couldn’t keep his eyes off her chest, and at one point, dropped to his knees and begged. I also made small talk with a man getting ready to fly out to Boston to see his father.
After finishing my second beer, I decided it was time to check out. People were starting to fill the bar en mass, and I didn’t want to reach a point where I needed to call an Uber. The sun had set and the air was full of the mild, summer evenings that you only experience in San Diego. If I lived closer, the Aero Club would become my new haunt.