The Viking Room: a “social mecca” since 1969

Liz Tubman

The Viking Room has been a campus bar run by and for students since its creation in 1969. One of the first things LUCC of 1968-69 did as an organization was to create the VR as a place for students and faculty to come together in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
Curtis William Tarr, the University’s president at the time, poured the VR’s first beer Mar. 7, 1969. Originally, the VR served only beer and wine. It was not until the late 1980s that liquor was introduced at the bar-a change which was well received by students.
Taps were installed in the bar when the drinking age was pushed up from 18 to 21 in 1986. Before this change, beer could be piped across the ceiling to the back part of the Union basement so that the game room could be served as well as the VR itself. Now, only the VR and the terrace are licensed for serving alcohol.
The decorations in the VR serve to emphasize the student-run, student-friendly atmosphere. Alumni painted murals depicting scenes of campus life from the late sixties and the mosaic over the fireplace is student-made as well.
The well-worn booths are the originals from the VR’s opening, but the tabletops have been redone in recent years. The bar itself was actually built out of a stage prop and still has its original coolers.
Events such as dances, concerts and parties have been hosted at the VR for decades and continue to draw students today.
One of the goals of the Viking Room is to provide affordable alcohol to students of age. Paul Shrode, Associate Dean of Students for Activities, remarked, “We don’t want to raise cheap drunks – we want to have reasonable prices for students.”
The Viking Room also serves as a place where students can socialize and interact with each other. “This provides a place here on campus for students instead of going off campus. We don’t want to lose the student culture in the town culture,” Shrode explained.
Student manager Linda Pinto started working at the VR February of her freshman year at Lawrence and has been there ever since.
“My first day of work was Mardi Gras, and since I didn’t turn 21 until last year I was one of the only bartenders who couldn’t go the VR except to work,” she remembered.
“I love everything about the VR,” she added, “especially being able to go in for happy hour and hang out with friends.”
The senior called the VR a “social mecca” for the Lawrence community. Events like senior nights and special guest bartenders attract students and faculty alike almost any night of the week.
Pinto also remarked that third term is always the most interesting at the VR since spring is when the seniors like to let loose before graduation. “This year they’re pretty tame compared to previous years,” Pinto remarked.
Student Peter Bennett also has a very positive opinion of the VR, both for its positive social atmosphere and safe setting for student drinking.
“I’m glad that Lawrence is responsible enough to address drinking rather than ignore it or try to stop it,” commented the junior. “A responsible school will make students more willing to get help when they need it.”
Bennett’s best times in the VR include having the opportunity to try varieties of new and exciting drinks like the beer of the month.
“There’s really no denying that a bar with all your friends in it is the best kind, and the VR pretty much guarantees there to be someone to know,” he remarked.