Bar Fiasco in the 1980s

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In the second of our four-part series on Bar Fiasco, we turn to the 1980s.

After outgrowing its space in what is now the Welcome Unit, Bar Fiasco moved to the mansarda during the 1980s. The attic space now houses the EUI Communications Service, although in earlier times was a place for tequila parties, music and football.

“It was the first week and we organised a Spanish tequila party; it was one of the first things we did and it was a great success. Then every nationality started doing parties at least once a month, the social scene was really strong,” says José Fernandez, who arrived at the EUI in 1988. He was on the Bar Fiasco committee while a researcher and now works at the European Investment Bank.

Fiasco soon went from its humble 1970s origins at the Upper Loggia to a bar fit for parties, José says: “We got a music system from the general manager, so every Friday there was really loud music.”

The drinks selection was also expanded, with local and Belgian beer, wine and whisky. José remembers the introduction of a Guinness tap as “absolutely fantastic.”

Fridays were the biggest night of the week for the bar; from Monday to Thursday Fiasco was a low-key affair. “What I really liked about it was that it was great to go there at the end of a day, when you’re tired after work. If you were every at a loose end you knew you could go there,” says Jim Newell, a professor at the University of Salford who arrived at the Badia as a researcher in 1984.

While tequila parties may not have been a Tuesday night occurrence, Jim recalls alcohol-fuelled debates: “I remember quite a few drunken evenings and passionate discussions with a friend of mine; the conversations would become more passionate and more heated.”

Lieven De Winter, a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain, remembers Fiasco in the 1980s as a place to mingle with researchers, staff and professors. “In my days there were a lot of staff that went for a beer. The second time I went there was because I was invited by [Professor] Peter Mair to meet some of his students,” he says. Peter passed away in 2011 and a plaque has been placed in the bar in his memory.

Lieven joined the EUI in 1984 and remembers Fiasco as being run mostly by Dutch people, while Jim and José say those propping up the bar were generally from northern Europe. The International Heroes and International Heroines, the EUI’s football teams, were also regulars.

A television arrived, although few were drawn away from the bar until 1990 when the World Cup came to Italy.

Our report on the opening of Fiasco in 1977 can be found here.

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