Being tossed about in a sea of paisley shirts, flat caps, soggy armpits, short skirts and an overpowering sense of sleaze was such that ordering a beer at The Flinders became my Everest. I had been known to frequent this nightspot so often that my friends believed I slept in the rafters, but returning after an absence of three months was to experience an unsettling and unpleasant change to the place I once loved.
The line was long, that was the same. The extra three security guards at the door waving a metal detector around my crotch wasn’t. It felt like an airport, the guards making you feel like you were packing a sawn-off, when all you were carrying was ten dollars and a hopeful condom. “It’s because of the stabbing”, I heard the guard say.
Already it felt like the start of something truly un-fun. As you pass through the double doors, the usual wave of heat and whiff of dance-floor foreplay cascades over your senses. The place is small, vintage bottles adorned the walls, a stuffed grizzly bear head in a canoe hangs over the bar. I must admit, it is unique and has an exciting energy. Flinders has long been the choice of twenty-somethings for big and gloriously loose nights. The kind of place you expect to spend your week’s earnings on stupid drinks, falling in love and waking up in a back alley of Chinatown with nothing but half memories and a full hangover.
But there is a limit. For god’s sake there has got to be a limit. In the hour that I spent there I witnessed three fights. Some guy probably spilled his bourbon and coke drink on another guy’s vintage shirt, perhaps a girl felt a corner creepster was making too much eye contact. Seems like grounds enough to punch someone.
The bartenders though. These bartenders have an insane sense of superiority, an attitude that says, “I’m cool for working here, but you are an absolute idiot for coming here and giving us money”. The pair are wearing hats, indoors at nighttime, and look as though they single-handedly support the local drug dealer. When I finally get my drink, my money is snatched out of my hand as if they are doing me a favour and look at me as if they are furious that I exist. We are the ones that fuel your drug habit, so treat us right.
This attitude, one which seems to be increasingly prevalent in Sydney bars, perplexes me. Why someone thinks they can ignore societal norms of behaviour because they pour beers and mix drinks is not okay. You’re a bartender, not a rockstar.
What is actually wrong with us? What happened to the image of Australians as fun, party-loving people who welcome and embrace each other? Today we go out to get wasted, grind the night away and then punch the guy next to us when we get bored. What’s worse is that whilst these stupid blokes were displaying their unbridled lust for ripping each other’s throats out, the staff was casually slinging out rows of shots to their increasingly inebriated clientele.
By all means go if all that sounds up your alley but after just one enlightening hour I had to leave. Standing outside, one of the fight’s participants, a hideously aggressive bearded chap was screaming at the bouncer, calling him a “Dago cunt”. I am worried that I have become like the withered old things on A Current Affair, ranting on about the perils of the ‘youth of today’. But I assure you that I like going out as much as anyone else, I’m not a social recluse or a model plane enthusiast – I just don’t think arrogant staff, sweat drenched boof heads, aggressive bouncers and average music is fun.
Not interested in being associated with anyone in my general vicinity, I put on my headphones and walked home thinking about my affair with Flinders. Maybe at 21 I am just getting old. Maybe it’s our fault and not their’s. Regardless I don’t think I can do it anymore, so this is my Dear John Letter;
I loved you, you made me so happy. You were unique and not afraid to be different. I will never forget the times we had together, but you have broken my heart.
So I ask of you kindly, stop fuelling the fuckwits.
P.S. Hats are for outdoors.