Of McMurdo Station, Antarctica’s three bars, only one will stay open for winter: Southern Exposure. The 120 people who will live here had a vote to decide this because only a skeleton crew (well, more skeleton than usual) will remain on station this year during its darkest and coldest time, and budget cuts won’t allow for three bars.
Even though the winter season will not start at McMurdo until the last plane flies north on Saturday (with me on it), the other two bars have already been closed. Therefore, Southern was the only social space open this weekend. Generally, on a Saturday night, it looks like this:
Dimly lit and so stinking smoky that you could cut the air with a knife, Southern is little more than a small-town bar, a place where you can go, and everybody knows your name. I’m no expert photographer, and I was disappointed when I looked at these photos. But then I decided to post them anyway because I think that in their awfulness, they accurately represent the place: dark and fuzzy and a little out of control.
Now, here’s the same view but taken with a flash:
Basically, the same thing: fuzzy and still a little out of control, but the flash illuminates the smoke that can’t be seen in the dark. It’s scary, I thought, to know how much muck we’re breathing in. But friends were there, and over one hundred summer workers departed the next day, so the last-night-in-town antics were a source of amusement. Even though Southern isn’t the best small-town bar in the world, it’s ours, and—well—when it’s your only option, there’s no use in complaining.