Pub Quiz Culture
September 30, 2010
I dropped in to a bar on Polk Street last night when the weekly pub quiz was in full flight. I've played a couple of quizzes in bars in my time, but it wasn't until I experienced this is as a sort of semi-player, semi-viewer, that I really got to appreciate how lively these kinds of events are from a cultural perspective.
My friends and I arrived at Blur Bar too late to actually participate in the establishment's "Trivia Night" as an official team. Nevertheless, we hung out, drank and answered the questions anyway. Here's what I appreciated about the event:
1. Coming up with a catchy name for your team requires creative effort. "Hardly Strictly Geniuses" (named after the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival happening in Golden Gate Park this weekend) was my favorite of last's night's selection.
2. People in the same team often synchronize outfits. The members of one team were all wearing blue t-shirts, which I thought was a nice touch.
3. The questions are challenging and you have to pool all your resources as a team to figure the answers out. I led my friends astray by naming the daffodil as the totem that St. David used to lead his Welsh troops, when in fact it was the leek. I should have engaged them in a discussion about it instead of cockily thinking I had the right answer.
4. The rounds are separated by fabulously cheesy pop music. There is lots of time for relaxation, drinking and chatter.
5. The event inspires strangers to talk to each other in a much more engaged way because everyone has the trivia challenge in common. I heard several conversations along the lines of "did you get the answer to question 5? That was hard" going on around me.
6. Pub quiz culture refreshingly inspires an honor code. I only once saw an iPhone in use. That was when my friend decided to do an image search for Etta James during the picture round. His excuse was that we weren't participating officially.