My dad, like me, was once a student studying international relations at UBC. He was the first person to tell me about the old Pit.
As a Vancouverite and the son of a UBC alumnus, I knew about the Pit before I was allowed to drink and well before I had any interest in going to bars. It was brought up by family friends laughing about the good ol’ days, teachers who joked about “how much fun” we were going to have in university and first-year UBC students who visited my high school to show that they were very, very cool.
I had no illusions about the place. The original Pit in the SUB basement was by all accounts a hive of scum and villainy. If old Ubyssey pictures are to be trusted, it was one of the dive-iest of dive bars. It was cheap.
If my dad was anything like me, he was also occasionally something of a degenerate and I have no doubt that he found his way to the boozy basement. According to him, it was the only place to go, which meant that everyone was bound to be there.
I never got to experience that Pit. I only arrived on UBC campus in August 2017, so the “Old SUB” is my “New SUB.”
The only Pit I’ve ever visited isn’t quite so greasy or dirty. It looks and feels like any typical Kitsilano sports bar, complete with the craft beer, table service and $9 cocktails.
A lot of my friends like the new, sleeker Pit, but I can’t shake this weird nostalgia I have for a bar I’ve never been to. Maybe I’m one of those insufferable “born in the wrong generation” types, but I’m also not the only one who feels this way. Other Vancouverites I’ve spoken to are equally fascinated by the dive bar we never visited.
When I speak to alumni — relatives, friends, acquaintances — they almost inevitably crack a joke about the old Pit. The new Pit, as nice as it is, feels more like the sad end to an era of drunken college shenanigans.
When my dad recently visited campus, he was amazed by how much it had changed since the 80s. The biggest shocker was that the recipe for UBC’s famed cinnamon buns — his guilty pleasure — had changed. The second was that the Pit was actually a nice place to be.