Aside from lunch at The Beresford, it was another reasonably quiet day. Colin and I met for lunch at the newly renovated and formerly iconic venue on Bourke Street.
“I remember all the dance parties”, our waitress told us when I asked about how long the bar had been closed. “And so do I”, I told her, laughing in recognition.
There was a time, of course, when The Beresford was one of the coolest bars in town. It was the mid-90s, or thereabouts when I was invited along for a Friday afternoon drink with a friend from Wagga who was then living in Sydney. We met for a drink, and then a game of pool. I think it was about the time of Mardi Gras or Sleaze.
It was the “golden era” of dance parties in Sydney when the whole “thing” on Oxford Street was quite visible. The Albury. The Beauchamp. The Flinders. The Beresford. Every dance party event seemed to end with drinks in the nearby laneway.
And then on a Tuesday night, it was Melrose Place night. Back in the days when Kimberley was crazy and declaring “no more victim”, a couple of hundred people would go to The Beresford on a Tuesday night for an hour or so for a great evening of entertainment. It was the days when Alison had a drinking problem, and every time she had a drink, you had a drink!
I don’t exactly recall when it closed, though it must have coincided with the end of the “dance party era” in Sydney. A time when Mardi Gras was no longer interesting or fashionable. The days when Oxford Street no longer was genuinely gay.
As I’ve walked up and down Oxford Street lately I’ve seen a few rainbow flags appearing on various shop fronts. It must be a decade since The Exchange proudly declared itself gay – aside from Phoenix – but I noticed a rainbow flag there recently. A thousand years ago you had to walk through the men’s toilet to get to the dance floor, of course.
And now of course The Beresford has re-opened too. It’s a little more upmarket these days. The Sunday lunch menu is a little more expensive than the bar food used to be. But it was really nice when the waitress gave a friendly reminder of days gone by.
As I looked around the restaurant and bar at lunchtime, there was a bunch of similarly aged gay men also checking it out. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who remembers with a certain fondness the days of old. And I guess that’s why I’m planning birthday drinks there in a few week’s time!