Sometimes we have ideas that don’t exactly come to fruition. For example, last Monday, your intrepid Smile Politely editors met in Campustown for our weekly “well, what the fuck do we do NOW?” meeting. The plan was to split up into groups afterward, get into some mischief with the campus crowd, take pictures of said mischief, and then post a world-weary townie’s take on the banal experiences to be had at the U of I on a Monday night. This, friends, is not that article.
That’s because our aimless wanderings found us at the door of the Illini Inn (901 S. 4th St., Champaign), arguably the last dive bar in Campustown. For just $6 apiece and the debatable value of a few brain cells, three of us joined the least-exclusive club in town: the Illini Inn Mug Club.
The process of joining the club is regimented, as you might expect after more than 65,000 iterations; it’s all a bit blurry now, but it certainly seemed precise at the time: present your ID, friendly barkeep fills out an orange card with your name and number on it, asks you to remember your number, pours you a mug of beer, a spirited mug-chugging race ensues with a clear winner, a second mug is poured, a bound book is signed, more beer is drank, Cubs lose. It’s been the same for generations of Illini.
The beer was cold, the atmosphere was welcoming, and it was a good way to spend a half hour on a Monday night. Nobody acted like we weren’t supposed to be there despite our middle-aged hipster status. Long live the Illini Inn!