A cantina, also known as a club, saloon, bar, lounge, emporium, or pub was a place where spacers, smugglers, and other denizens of the nearby area came to drink and play board and card games, such as pazaak or sabacc. Some cantinas had fighting rings. Cantinas were located on almost every major planet and were often a center of criminal activity such as smuggling and spice trading. They were typically located on smuggler-affiliated planets, such as Atzerri, Abregado-rae, Tatooine, Nar Shaddaa or Nal Hutta.
Many cantinas provided live entertainment in the form of musicians and dancers. Gambling was also popular in these locales. The main attractions, however, were the beverages served by mixologists or automixers, and the opportunity to meet friends or business associates (illicit or otherwise).
Cantinas were generally poorly lit and crowded. They were dangerous centers of criminal activity, and it was not uncommon for patrons to be maimed or killed within the walls, without so much as a flinch from the staff or the other patrons.
Though most cantinas were open to everyone, many did not allow droids inside. Still other cantinas, such as the Jekk'Jekk Tarr on Nar Shaddaa, were designed only for aliens; the air consisted of fumes that were similar to the ones on their homeworlds, and therefore poisonous to Humans.
All cantinas employed at least one bartender. Chalmun's Spaceport Cantina had two bartenders: Wuher, who worked the day shift, and Ackmena, who worked at night. A serving staff of waiters and waitresses was often employed as well, and the bartender sometimes had an assistant or barmaid. In addition to the serving staff, most cantinas hired bouncers to handle the many drunk and disorderly patrons.
Many cantinas incorporated some type of entertainment, be it dancers or musicians. In some cantinas, female Twi'lek slaves danced on stages, while others used holograms. Bith musicians playing music, jizz for instance, were also popular entertainment. Some establishments employed both dancers and a band.
While layouts varied, cantinas typically included most of the same elements. Tables and chairs were generally scattered around the room, sometimes in the form of booths that were set into the walls for added privacy. Another element common to all cantinas was the bar. Often the bar was shaped like a long U, allowing the greatest number of patrons to be seated around it. In the center of the U-shape was the beverage dispenser, where the bartender made the drinks. At the back of the bar was usually a door leading to an office or other employee area.
Depending on the entertainment offered, a stage or bandstand could be against one wall for the performers. Often there would be a room off the main bar area with extra tables for playing pazaak or sabacc. Some cantinas also ran swoop races, in which case there would be a registration area and monitors for watching the races.
Additional areas in a cantina might include a VIP lounge—a room off the main bar area that was cordoned off for a particular group. The Upper City Cantina on the planet Taris had an area for watching and participating in dueling matches, and Zax the Hutt had established a bounty office in Javyar's Cantina.
The famous Jekk'Jekk Tarr, which exclusively served aliens who breathed fumes that were toxic to Humans, had four distinct chambers plus a VIP lounge. Each chamber was filled with a different type of gas, and was separated from the others by a small decontamination chamber. Despite the presence of a bartender, the Jekk'Jekk Tarr was primarily "self-serve," with chemical dispensers located in convenient places around the room, primarily near the clusters of tables in the corners of the respective chambers.
Behind the scenes
Many cantinas visited in the Knights of the Old Republic games seem to have been based on the layout of Chalmun's Spaceport Cantina, as seen in the first film. This suggests that the layout was common across the galaxy, at least circa 4000 BBY.
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Star Wars: Revenge of the Brick (Non-canonical appearance)
- Star Wars: Battlefront II (Non-canonical appearance)
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Non-canonical appearance)