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.