The Bronze Dragon: La Crosse’s new underage bar opens its doors


Jessica Schneider, Campus Life Editor

Students under the age of twenty-one now have the opportunity to go to a bar and drink without the fear of breaking any laws—though it may not be the drinks they’re thinking of. La Crosse gained its first alcohol-free bar when The Bronze Dragon opened its doors earlier this year. The Facebook page of the new business describes their establishment as “a non-alcoholic geek bar with [alcohol-free] beers and wine, sodas, tea, snacks, board games, live performances.” 

While The Bronze Dragon is the first of its kind in the La Crosse area, the trend is not a new one. The Other Side Bar, located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park has been in business since 2013, as reported by Hillary Dixler Canavan in her article “A Sober, Alcohol-Free Bar Is Opening Outside Chicago.” Canavan reported that the bar has “pretty much everything a typical bar might—couches, pool tables, video games, and space for live music—except for alcohol.” This atmosphere is especially curated to be reminiscent of a traditional bar scene for recovering alcoholics, as “the bar is a project from New Directions Recovery Services, a non-profit that provides addiction treatment services.” Canavan went on to say that proceeds “go towards drug education and treatment programs.” 

Junior musical theatre student, Lindsey Meath, shared her familiarity with the concept, saying, “There’s a place like that near my house back home.” She highlighted her interest in the atmosphere of the venue, adding, “it’s a cool environment, and it’s supportive of people who are in recovery from alcoholism or other things like that—it’s a safe place for everyone to go.” 

While The Bronze Dragon isn’t publicly affiliated with any addiction-treatment services, it is a safe place for those looking to pursue their interests. Customers are encouraged to play tabletop board games, geek out about their favorite movies, and even partake in sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (DnD). In a conversation with Steve Cahalan of the La Crosse Tribune, owner Caitlyn Konze said, “This is a place where people can come in and celebrate all geek-doms.” Customers can play a wide variety of games, either bringing their own or, as Konze said, borrowing one of the “close to a hundred” board games that the bar owns.  

In addition to being an alcohol-free bar, The Bronze Dragon is also a tip-free bar. A Facebook post announcing this fact explains, “We believe tips breed inequity and people shouldn’t have to rely on the generosity of others just to make a living. We will be paying our staff cost-of-living wages.” Konze understands that this may be detrimental to the financial success of the business. “Will that cut into profit? Yes. But treating people with the respect and dignity they deserve is worth it.” 

Most students interviewed by the Lumen said they liked the idea of having a place to go to hang out off campus, but were not particularly motivated by the promise of no alcohol. When asked whether or not they’ll be attending The Bonze Dragon, the students answered with a resounding “Maybe.” Meanwhile, other students expressed interest in the drag shows being hosted by The Bronze Dragon. One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, even said that it’s the “main reason” they’d visit the bar. “It’s nice to have access to drag culture in La Crosse,” they said. 

Students interested in visiting The Bronze Dragon can find it at 200 Main Street, Suite 101, La Crosse. They can also go to the bar’s Facebook page for more information on upcoming themed nights and events.