Dartmouth is brewing at Dirt Cowboy Cafe

by John Strayer | 5/11/93 10:00pm

They are packing them in at the new Dirt Cowboy Cafe. Every time I have stopped into the new coffee shop on Main Street it has been crowded. While this means cash in the pockets of the owners it also has a deeper meaning for the College. The success of this new cafe sheds light on the large portion of the student body that is often masked by the extremes.

The extremes here are very visible and are sometimes mistaken for the College itself. As we continue to debate how condoms should be distributed at this school the extremes seem to engage in the only visible debate.

One side portrays the issue as if Dartmouth students have sex at least as frequently as they strap on their Teva's. The other side seems to think that signs advertising condoms are sent by Satan to encourage fornication and general moral decline.

Lost in the debate between the people putting up the signs and the people changing the signs to read "24 Hour Condoms" is the vast majority of students. These are the students who watch the fur fly from the sidelines.

These students may not be on the front lines of either The Review or condom battles, yet they are not unimportant. Any local business can tell you that. To survive in Hanover local businesses must attract the greatest number of students, not just the vocal elite.

EBA's is the classic case. The entire school knows the quality of the pizza is extremely low. However, EBA's has some very important qualities designed to bring in those "normal" students. Among these are speedy free delivery and a kitchen that is always open until two in the morning in a town that closes down at five in the afternoon.

In my extensive research for this column (which consisted of drinking several cups of coffee) I have discovered that the new Dirt Cowboy Cafe tends to be a happening place. As I mentioned before this must mean it attracts that large portion of the College population between the two extremes.

Are these students simply thirsty for a cup of coffee? It seems unlikely. Both Food Court and the Hop serve up a half decent cup of coffee. If you are extremely lazy EBA's will deliver a cup right to your door.

No, something else is drawing students to this new coffee house. An intangible element exists that draws students to a place like a cafe. While gossip may be common in Thayer, one has a discussion in a coffee shop. It is a good place to express your thoughts or simply to think.

So the popularity of the Dirt Cowboy Cafe indicates more than a student desire for a good espresso. By successfully attracting the forgotten middle of the student population the cafe highlights the personality of that middle.

That middle may not be swiping newspapers or spewing hatred but they do have opinions. While enjoying a cup of coffee one can see that the vocal elite of Dartmouth do not represent everyone who has a well thought out view.

In the Dirt Cowboy Cafe there are plenty of students discussing various topics over coffee. While the extremes receive most of the attention we must recognize that coffee and the conversations that surround it are just as much a part of this college.