Monday, August 09, 2010
Perth, Melbourne, Launceston, Hobart... I love youse all
One of the great things about Melbourne is its trendy little boutique bars, tucked away in dark alleys. They're hip, happening, warm (important in a cold State), and welcoming oases amid the funky, slightly wonky, architecture of that stylista-rich city.
Unless, of course, you can't get in.
I have met more than one member of the Legion of Fans (LOF) on this tour, but nowhere has the concentration of y'all been so great than in Melbourne. Which was great.
My only event in Victoria this year was a paid function put on by Dymocks Camberwell's enterprising owner, Henk, at the Ebony Quill Cafe. Amazingly, a reasonable number of people paid to see me speak, and to buy my books. Henk and the venue put on a slick, nice, and value-for-money dinner and we moved enough books to make it worth is while (phew).
After the event, yours truly and a hardy band of legionnaires (you know who you are), decided that it was time to drink more. Henk gave us the heads-up on a trendy little bar not far up the road, tucked away in an back lane. The directions led us to a nondescript door - no sign, no, advertising, no name. This, I thought, was one of those places that one might read about in a tragically trendy (though generally useless) inflight magazine.
The door opened.
Immediately, incredibly, we were transported from the cold, drab city streetscape to a warm, welcoming space not much bigger than a large lounge room that was packed with beautiful young people dressed in black skivvies. They were laughing, chatting, sipping on cocktails, and quietly jiving in their comfy lounges to funky vibes.
At least they were until the door opened.
Now, I will not push the boundaries of journalistic/literary licence and say that all noise stopped and one could have heard a pin drop when we looked in. No one in the crowd of horrified hipsters said "we don't take quietly to strangers 'round here", but that's kind of what happened.
There was a noticeable lull in the tone and volume of conversation as the bouncerette checked me out. She looked at me with a look that clearly said "hmmmm, Sydney..." and then informed me, politely, that unless we had a booking, we could not be admitted. There was, literally, no room at the inn, and for the first time in my life I found myself on the doorstep of a pub for which one had to book.
You'll love every part of Melbourne, so the advertising slogan goes... except for the bit they won't let you in to.
Undeterred (though quietly freaking out that we might not find a drink in this city), the phalanx of legionnaires and I pushed on until we found an establishment much more befitting Australia's number 2 (Australian fiction, for one week only, 2009, after T. Winton) author. Yes... a scummy suburban pub.
But we still couldn't get in.
On reaching the pub, we found that a band was in full swing and a $10 cover charge was being demanded. That was not an appealing option, but in the end our debate over whether or not to pay was turned academic by the fact that it seemed we did not all measure up to the dress code. Only in Melbourne, Legion of Fans.
Just as it looked as though we would retire sober and unhurt, an alternative presented itself. "You could try the gaming lounge," the bouncer suggested.
And so it came to pass, that the inaugural meeting of the Melbourne chapter spent the night among the melodic bada-bing and zipple of the pokie machines in a suburban melbourne pub.
I would have liked to have an overpriced drink a trendy back alley bar, but I much preferred the time I spent drinking cheap schooners with the above pictured people. Thanks to you all, and great to meet you.
I'm in Tasmania right now, on the tail end of the round (most of) Australia tour. The mini bar is emptying... a sure sign that it is time to turn in and set the alarm for the next flight.