A cantina was a place where spacers, smugglers, and other denizens of the nearby area came to drink and play pazaak or sabacc. 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 or Nal Hutta. One of the most infamous cantinas was located in Mos Eisley on Tatooine.
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, 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 would 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 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.
Some cantinas used MixRMastR robo-bartender droids in the place of a bartender and others types of service droids to wait tables and handle the bar counter. One cantina on Taris, known as the Kedorzhan Bar, was run entirely by droids.
In some cantinas, female Twi'lek slaves were brought in to dance on stages, while others used holograms. Bith musicians playing Jizz music were also popular entertainment. Many establishments employed both dancers and a band.
While exact 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 there was usually a door leading to an office or other employee area.
Depending on the entertainment offered, there could be a stage or bandstand 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 had an area for watching and participating in dueling matches, and Zax the Hutt had established a bounty office in Javyar's Cantina.
The 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.
In the RPG The cantina fullfills all of the above. It is just as devious and mischeifvous as it is elsewhere.