The humble pub has been around, in one form or another, since the Romans landed on the shores of Britain. Despite its vintage status, however, you could say that pub culture is as strong as it ever was. It has weathered storms during its long lifetime such as licensing laws, world wars, and the credit crunch, but still remains the nation’s favourite place to gather. The British pub culture is so strong that it has spread across the world, particularly to countries with close ties to the UK such as Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
Of course, the modern day 21st century pub probably looks very different to those alehouses that the Anglo-Saxons established in their homes back in 400 AD. The present day customer expects an altogether more up-to-date form of entertainment down at their local, and modern pubs have developed plenty of ways to keep them interested.
The Pub Quiz
Nothing quite beats a classic pub quiz. Many pubs choose to have general knowledge questions covering a wide range of subjects, but there are also those that run popular specialist quiz nights with topics ranging from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to a round the world A – Z. A pub quiz is a great leveller, as everybody can sign up and get involved, all whilst in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
Taking a deck of cards along with you when meeting friends is always a great idea; it gives the group something to focus on and keep them busy, meaning that conversation can flow freely. Some pubs will even provide customers with in-house card decks so that they can sit and play classic games like Gin Rummy, Go Fish and Texas Hold’em. It’s the perfect screen-free way to ramp up the entertainment factor amongst a party of pals.
Whilst the classic slot machine has been a mainstay in pubs for many years, with the technological advancements made over the past few decades there is now a much wider range to choose from. From video slots made popular in the 80s, to vintage fruit machines, to online varieties of slots, to the classic poker-based slot machine, there is a type of machine to fit everybody’s liking.
Pool and Snooker
Though there are specialist pool and snooker halls available where people can take along their cue and challenge their mates, you will often find a pool room in a pub. They represent a great way to kill time whilst you wait for the rest of the gang to show up, or to wind down after work as you catch up with your besties. They’ve become just as ubiquitous in the classic pub layout as the fruit machines and bar.
Imported from North America, foosball kicked off in a big way in the UK during the 1990s. Though foosball tables aren’t as popular now as they were a few years ago, you do still find them in pubs, particularly those that show sports channels. Just like a pool or snooker table, foosball is a fantastic hands-on form of entertainment where you can enjoy a bit of friendly rivalry between mates.
It’s been around since the early 1980s but Jenga is still a crowd pleaser. Easy to set up on a table top and a great way to get everyone involved and laughing, you’ll find this game available in many modern pubs that want to attract a younger crowd. You might even find some alternatives along with it like Connect-4, Uno and Cards Against Humanity (if they dare!).
Retro Video Games
Something that we’re seeing more and more of these days in pubs is a nod to those retro video games that everybody can recognise. Rather than playing them on a games console or computer, the table itself becomes your battleground and your fingers control the action. Whether it’s a surprisingly engrossing game of Pong or a furious, colourful riot of action on Space Invaders, these are accessible and enjoyable games that everyone loves to be reminded of.
Presenting a less formal but equally satisfying alternative to the pub quiz is the trivia machine. Using themes such as Deal or No Deal or Crystal Maze, these infuriating devices put your general knowledge to the test as your friends crowd round shouting the answers at the screen. They are a great way to bring all the fun and brainpower of a pub quiz into the atmosphere of a casual meet-up after work or a stop off during a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Not for the faint-hearted, some riotous establishments have gone the whole hog and fixed a mechanical bull in their public house. Though there are bound to be a few customers who end up with a knock to their pride or a bruised ego, this can be a great way to dispelling all of that excess energy that tends to build when people get together to have a good time.