Happy Village (Bar, Ukrainian Village)
I forgot that I was supposed to be writing about the Happy Village. I was too preoccupied. I hadn’t played table tennis in months, perhaps years, and the back room of the Happy Village is the home to a two-table ping-pong arena. It gives a twist to the term “sports bar.” Happy Village has a technical two-drink minimum to play, but nobody said a word to us about it that evening. I will try to do this proper, but for me the ping-pong was the focus of the night. The wonderful thing is, it didn’t seem like it was for everybody. I could see Happy Village becoming a place where the back room gets so crowded that you can’t play, the front bar emptied in favor of waiting for your turn to bend it like Bergmann. This isn’t the case, however. As we went on a Tuesday, the bar wasn’t stuffed to the gills, but it hosted a respectable crowd. This group was fairly evenly split between the two rooms, with slight favor on the main bar area. It seems that Happy Village is a local bar to the core, and the table tennis, while used and appreciated, is only drooled over by ignorant visitors like myself.
The drink specials are exactly what you would expect and appreciate from a neighborhood Chicago bar from the 1960’s. Fancy cocktails are omitted in favor of cheap portions of Old Style, Pabst, and Hamm’s. These are delicious options, so get one and make a friend. We made conversation with patrons, bartender, and one particularly intense ping-pong player while at Happy Village. Friendly, easy conversation seems to be the norm there. They have a large patio out back with a pond, so make sure you check that out if the weather permits. The jukebox is always a point of contention for me. I am not a big fan of the kinds of music usually stocked into these machines. I rarely know the bands and never know the songs. Happy Village surprised me, however. Among the mix of unknown (at least to me, you probably know all of them) were lodged Tenacious D, the Gorillaz, and Dr. Dre’s Chronic. A few of those tracks could keep me nodding all night. And so you know, Richard Bergmann was a seven-time world champion of table tennis from Austria and was inducted into the International Table Tennis Hall of Fame as a founding member.
This review originally appeared in UPchicago Bar Crawl #3: Ukrainian Village.