All the Best Revolutions Start in Pubs
On this day, October 5, in 1995, Dumbledore’s Army was formed by a group of students in a pub. Led by Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley, Hogwarts students, dissatisfied and frustrated by the iron-fisted rule of Professor Umbridge, banded together to form a community in which they could learn practical defensive spells, to rise up against Umbridge and the Ministry of Magic’s refusal to acknowledge the imminent and terrifying return of Voldemort. These students weren’t the only ones who have been inspired to take action among the chink of mugs and dusty atmosphere that have come to be associated with local pubs, taverns, and other lower scale eateries and watering holes. In honor of these “pub revolutions,” here is a list of some of our (Amy and Jasmine) favorite examples of uprisings, quests, and movements from fictional works that were started or cultivated in these communal places.
Fellowship of the Ring – Prancing Pony
The Hobbits had set out on their quest, but without much knowledge of what lies ahead. When they get to the Prancing Pony, however, it becomes clear what they are up against. Not only do they realize the scale of what they are trying to do, but it is here that they meet Strider (Aragorn) who then leads them to Rivendell where the Fellowship of the Ring is formed. It can be claimed that the Prancing Pony was an essential step to push the Hobbits toward success in their quest. Without the help of Aragorn and the Fellowship, I think we can all agree that the Hobbits would not have gotten very far.
Newsies – Tibby’s (movie) or Jacob’s Deli (Broadway)
Although the strike had already begun, the scene where the newsies made the front page became the real defining point of the NY paper boys’ revolution. Without a wider knowledge of the events of a revolution, it really can’t be counted as anything. If no one knows what’s happening, is it really happening? It’s the old “if a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one to hear it, does it make a sound?” arguement. Once the strike got some press, it became a full-blown revolution that eventually overthrows Pulitzer.
Les Miserables – ABC Cafe (movie)
In the musical version of Victor Hugo’s story, a group of students meet in the ABC Cafe to discuss revolution. When thinking of “pub revolutions” the first thing that comes to my mind is the rousing and inspiring combination of the songs “Red and Black” and “Do You Hear the People Sing.” How can you not feel like fighting for justice after hearing these songs? Raise your hand if you started singing while reading this… *raises hand awkwardly*
Cabaret – Kit Kat Club (musical)
Full disclosure: I’m not a huge fan of the 1972 Cabaret movie. The musical, however, blew my mind, especially after discovering that the play was adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s bittersweet and war-fueled time in Germany, as lovingly recounted in Goodbye to Berlin. (See: why the accompanying gif is from 2013’s Christopher and His Kind.)
Anyway. The seedy Kit Kat Club was Cliff Bradshaw and Sally Bowles’s haven from rising Nazi power in Berlin, Germany. The perfumed and smoke-clogged club welcomed anyone and everyone so long as they had money to spend. The end of the musical implies that the Kit Kat Club has fallen to the Nazis (with their flag unfurling from the ceiling, thudding to the floor), the previously carefree characters sullenly standing in front of a white backdrop, tonelessly singing a harsh rendition of the opening “Wilkommen” song – before this ending, the Kit Kat Club proudly refused to bow down to the Nazi effort, markedly free from bricks hurled through windows like Fraulein Schneider’s boarding house is subject to.
Casablanca – Rick’s Cafe Americain
Rick’s Cafe Americain is a speakeasy nightclub rooted in revolution. A gambling and drinking oasis, Rick’s is owned by an expatriate, who is friends with the hilariously hypocritical Vichy Captain Renault and is made up of a fascinatingly diverse clientele: refugees, thieves, fugitives, and members of the Resistance alongside German and French police. From the opening scene in the movie, it is made clear that the war has no place at Rick’s. Indeed, once Laszlo goes head to head with Strasser, and revolutionary patriotism grips the bar’s patrons, Rick’s can no longer exist.
Shaun of the Dead – The Winchester
By now, anyone who’s spent a brief inkling of time on the Internet has seen the word collage of the movie’s titular loser hero, Shaun, explaining his plan of surviving the zombie attack: “Take car, go to mum’s, kill Phil, grab Liz, go to the Winchester, have a nice cold pint, wait for all this to blow over.” The Winchester – a very large, very wooden, very loud pub that Shaun and Ed spend most of their waking moments in – becomes the only remaining zombie-less stronghold in their sleepy hometown. It is the last place to be corrupted by the nonsensical zombie attack, where the main characters finally get to air their grievances so that they may team up and desperately figure out their game plan.
The World’s End – The World’s End
While the last bar on Gary King and co.’s Golden Mile pub crawl is where they physically face off against the stone-faced Blanks and the gleaming Network, it could be argued that the eleven previous bars (The First Post, the Old Familiar, the Famous Cock, the Cross Hands, the Good Companions, the Trusty Servant, the Two-Headed Dog, the Mermaid, the Beehive, the King’s Head, and the Hole in the Wall) sowed the seed for the humans’ revolution against Enemy No. 1. Sure, for the first three bars, the entire group was blissfully unaware of the real reason why no one in Newton Haven remembered who they were or why every bar looked eerily the same. However, once they all battled teenaged Blanks at the Cross Hands, the previously disgruntled group finally put theirs blue-bloodied heads together to go up against the aliens who had taken over the town.
Although our list only includes fictional examples, there are of course plenty of real-life revolutions that were rooted in communal gatherings at local pubs and bars. Help us celebrate the Hogwarts’s student uprising and sound off in the comments with some of your favorite examples of “pub revolutions”!