Dive bars generally have a relaxed and informal atmosphere — they are often referred to by local residents as "neighborhood bars," where people in the neighborhood gather to drink and socialize. Individual bars may be considered to be disreputable, sinister, or even a detriment to the community:
“The dives themselves are nuisances, per se, and that is why they have to pay such high license prices.”
The term “dive” dates from London in the 19th century, when young men wanted a livelier place in which to spend their afternoons than the gentlemen’s clubs frequented by their fathers. They formed informal clubs, where they gathered to smoke and drink coffee.
The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary indicates that, in the United States in the 1880s, the term referred to an illegal drinking den or other place of ill repute, especially one located in a basement. However, this usage has since become obsolete.