Hidden beneath some of these updates is the Greenville neighborhood’s signature dive bar doubles as one of the oldest in Dallas, an atmosphere cultivated at this location since 1947. And with that long history comes one of Ships Lounge’s quirks, a tradition of BYO-liquor, a concept that one doesn’t run into all that often, at least at a reputable drinking establishment, but arrived as a symptom of permits over the dive bar’s many decades. With the closing and reopening of Ships Lounge under new management in 2016, liquor made its glorious entrance to Ships Lounge, adding a little convenience to a night’s proceedings even if some regulars reminisce about the good old days of bringing a bottle of choice through the door.
With all of that history out of the way, today’s incarnation of Ships Lounge is a bit like a dive bar inhabiting an extended hallway in a submarine, a mashup of Christmas lights, anchors and Budweiser that feels like you could probably touch both walls with your hands at the same time. The layout is simple, a long bar taking up most of the space with skinny, one-person-a-side booths running along the opposite wall. The Christmas light game here is strong, draped lights extending almost the entire length of the space, providing densely packed light throughout. Updates are clear throughout, but the bar itself saw little of that, the fabric lining the surface of the bar worn and torn away in spots.
Blacked out windows preserve the dimly lit tradition here, the pervasive Christmas lights doing most of the work, bouncing off of a mirrored Budwesier-themed crown atop the shelving behind the bar. And though updates are pervasive, so too is the preservation, numerous original murals and artifacts from Ships Lounge days gone by collected and distributed throughout the space. A wall of photos of regulars across the years adds a personal touch to the decoration, the attire in the photos changing as the years rolled by. The ceiling is no doubt secure but at least gives off the vibe that it could probably sink in at any moment, a blue textured surface that sags in a way that it feels almost like an optical illusion.