Tag: gay

Men Only

Ahead of meeting up with some mates for dinner tonight, I called in to The Midnight Shift on Sydney’s Oxford Street for a G&T. I’d arrived early, and I figured a G&T would be a nice way to kill 15 or 20 minutes. To my surprise, Deni Hines was also there.

Although I “grew up” with Deni Hines, I’m more familiar with her mother, 1970s Australian pop icon, Marcia Hines. “When I told my mother I was playing The Midnight Shift, she told me she played here when it was Men Only. I’m proud to say I’m second generation to play The Shift”, she said.

I also remember when The Midnight Shift was Men Only. Unofficially for many years, but also officially, as they usually excluded women for footwear reasons. “You’re wearing open-toed shoes” they would often explain as the reason why women were not allowed to enter.

I wish they had been a little more honest, and just said something like “There are times when women want a women-only space, and times when a men want a men-only space, so I hope you can appreciate that”. Not only would that have been a little more honest, I think that would have also have led to much less conflict. I can imagine there would have been more occasions when people would have said,, “OK”, rather than get into fights about definitions, as I know my friends and I sometimes did.

2015, and life is different. And on a Queen’s Birthday Weekend, I couldn’t help but notice the bars on Oxford Street were awfully busy. On a normal Sunday night, there would often be handsful of people at bars like The Midnight Shift and The Oxford Hotel. But tonight the bars were full, and even places like The Oxford which normally struggle for patrons were charging a $15 entry. So after a G&T, some Deni Hines, and dinner, it was home for bed (and some blogging).

Visiting Melbourne – Sunday night at DT’s

For a bunch of reasons, there aren’t too many “gay bars” any-more. It doesn’t worry me too much, though a friend bemoans the lack of a “traditional” neighbourhood bar, where you can go and have a drink, have a chat, meet some nice blokes, and maybe “catch up”. Or at least that’s the case in most cities around the world it seems. I’m curious to see if that will be the case in Tokyo (which I’ll be visiting in July) which boasts 300 neighbourhood gay bars in a small area. Even though they’ve pretty much disappeared for the most part in Australia, Melbourne still has one, it seems: DT’s. Amusingly enough, the most friendly people in the bar were actually a group of guys from Sydney (two of whom live metres away from me) who befriended me on a Melbourne cold, winter’s night.

Sunday Night at Stonewall

When I was in Brisbane the other week I walked past “The Alliance Hotel” on Boundary Street. As I peered through window, I noted it seems like a very modern “boutique” hotel these days. However, I remember it back in the 80s when it was a fairly down-market gay bar.

“Down-market” is probably the wrong phrase to use, as it’s a venue I remember with fondness. They had $3 meals on a Monday night, as I recall, which was a very attractive offering to an impoverished university student living such as myself.

But it was the Sunday nights I remember the most. There was a “Sunday Session” from roughly four until ten, which was always a wonderful opportunity to catch up with friends for a beer or two. And they had a wonderful drag show which seemed to go on for hours. Although there were lots of drag legends in Brisbane at the time such as Toye de Wilde (who once ran for the Queensland Parliament) and Destiny Devine (who we named our cat after), the “star” of the show was a character called Freda Mae West. Freda Made was, probably, in her 70s, and her “star turn” was an inability to lip-sync properly. Most famously, the line “I see you shiver with anticipation” from Rocky Horror had the crowd in rapturous laughter.

In some ways, the Sunday night show at Sydney’s Stonewall reminds me of those days at The Alliance. Hosted by Polly, the show is all about having a fun time, having a few drinks with your mates, and in preparation for the week ahead, not taking life too seriously. A treasure.

Mardi Gras

“I’m running late. The bus was late, but I’ll be there shortly”, I told a friend by text message.

I haven’t really participated much in this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, so we had planned to catch up for a beer and a bit of “Mardi Gras” spirit at Sydney’s legendary Imperial Hotel. “I think Sunday afternoon is the best option. And as the Imperial is about to turn straight, maybe we should meet there for their Sunday afternoon retro session” a friend told me in am email. “Turning straight? Just like all my exboyfriends”, I joked in reply.

But as I arrived at Erskineville, Graeme said, “It’s closed”. Instantly that brought back memories of that day in November 2007 when we had planned to meet at The Newtown Hotel, only to discover the bar had closed suddenly. Thankfully, that wasn’t repeated at The Imperial, just a later opening time than advertised.

What a relief. Because we had a lovely afternoon of chatting, listening to music, and enjoying the comic ramblings of the resident drag queen, Felicity.

In this modern world of online relationships, Grindr, and the like I hope there’s still room for “gay bars”. I think it’s fantastic that (in the inner city at least) it’s all okay for gays and straights to socialise in the same bars. I think it’s fantastic that male or female couples can, by and large, show affection to each other without retribution. Obviously that’s not the case in many locations, but most definitely in the inner-city part of Sydney in which I live. But still there are times when it’s nice to be with “my people” and to share a sense of community.

That’s also how I feel about Mardi Gras. Even though I didn’t participate much this year, I think it’s really important that it continues to exist. Even if we achieve full equality in my lifetime (and that’s possible), I still think it’s good to have these moments of individual community celebration. Even if there’s equality, it shouldn’t mean mean everyone’s the same.