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Viva la Dive Bar!

In celebration of the comfortable squalor and cheap-ass booze of Atlanta's dive-iest bars

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Morris Restaurant & Lounge
2254 Oakview Road. 404-378-9262.

How this dive has managed to survive on a side street in Kirkwood for more than 40 years isn't just a mystery, but a genuine miracle.

Drive by before dark and you'd swear this place closed down years ago. With its brick exterior and stately white columns, Morris looks more like a church or funeral parlor than a bar. But come 10 p.m., the chain comes off the doors, the music begins playing and Morris opens for business. Not that this is a crunk party joint; the owners restrict entry to the over-25 crowd in order to keep out the troublemakers.

Despite its fast-gentrifying surroundings, Morris still attracts a working-class black clientele, folks looking to have a good time, sip a few drinks and listen to the occasional live band.

While Morris isn't filthy, frightening or cramped, it is charmingly outdated, with booth seating that looks like it was salvaged from a diner and a carpet that's seen better days.

The menu is limited to the usual wings, fries and such, and the fanciest drink available is a Crown Royal and Sprite. There's often a large jar of picked eggs on hand for those hard-to-satisfy appetites.

If you drop in on a busy night, you best come ready to dance — the regulars aren't shy about pulling strangers onto the floor to get down to some Al Green.

If friendliness is any key to longevity, Morris will continue to be around for years to come.

The Foxy Lady Lounge
1635 Moreland Ave. 404-622-9250. foxyladyatlanta.com.

As I get out of my car in the parking lot of the Foxy Lady, an unsteady gentleman steps out from behind the low-slung pink building. "I'll keep an eye on your car for ya!" he yells as I hurry for the entrance.

Of all the countless times I've driven past this landmark of decadence, this is one of the few occasions I can remember not seeing a police cruiser or ambulance out front. After a reassuring pat-down by the security guard, I step inside to confirm it's a slow day at the Foxy Lady. Several strippers are clustered together in a corner so dark I can't tell if there's a customer with them. On the other end of the room, a patron is enjoying (I assume) a floor-level table dance. There's no one on the 10-foot-long stage in the center of this small, single-room strip club.

On one wall are dozens of framed photos of half-naked girls, presumably past and present dancers, with stage names such as Cinnamon and Onyx. A card table displays ball caps for sale in front of the DJ booth. Not Foxy Lady-branded caps, mind you. Just regular, blank ones. Still, every revenue stream helps, right?

How long has the Foxy Lady been around? The house DJ, a friendly older man, says at least 27 years because that's how long he's worked there. While I digest this imponderable fact, he steps back into the booth to put on a booty-shaking song lyrically explicit enough to make Rick James blush.

The Foxy Lady isn't without aspirations. For instance, it divides the week into theme nights, kicking off with a Madden NFL PlayStation tournament on Mondays that allows patrons to win free drinks and table dances. And there's a purported VIP area, screened off from the rest of the room by a dark curtain.

And yet, the Foxy Lady still isn't dive-y enough for some. On one local message board, for instance, someone has lodged the complaint: "I think the two-drink minimum policy is bullshit!" Well, you can't please everyone.

As I edge my way toward the door, a tall woman wearing a bikini and several gold caps approaches to ask if I need help. "I'm just looking around," I say.

"Well, how 'bout looking around my body!" she counters.

Headed back to my car, I hear the unsteady lurker call after me: "Hey, no love for the parking lot attendant?"

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