Part II: Miss Libertine
Having seen just one of the five bands on the bill — the one that mattered anyway — and having satisfied my craving for kebab, I was very grateful to Nick (see my previous post) for dropping me off at my next destination, a large-ish bar and club I’d never been to called Miss Libertine.
Here I was to meet with another mate called Wolfgang, and yes, that really is his name. I bet the people you hang out with don’t have awesome first names like that. They'd have to be called Chuck Wayne or Arnold Fightmaster to come close. He’s someone I regularly bump into around the traps, and we usually end up talking about music, bands, and, well, music. However, until tonight we’d never had a proper cath-up outside of a gig or a club night. So, dosed up on metal and kebab, I entered this popular drinking establishment, whereupon entering the crowded premises I observed a few things.
The first thing I noticed was that it was hip. So very, very, very trendy and hip. Edgy young dudes wearing hats and short-sleeve tops had their designer tattoos on display while most of the girls who felt they could get away with it (and some who probably couldn’t) were also on display in inappropriately short skirts and handbags.
Secondly, I quickly discovered that the venue was serving free booze. Lots of it. In a city where the active nightlife is inevitably dominated by traditionally expensive bar prices, such a generous offering is almost unprecedented. And I don’t mean free drinks as in “pay $369 for entry and get a free glass of champagne” — I mean “can I please have two imported beers and not pay for them” kind of free. Interestingly enough, and I give credit to the venue for this, I noticed that this phenomenon was not being abused.
When I was 18 or 19 I once (and only once) went to this club that provided free booze all night long in exchange for a $20 entry-fee (and keep in mind that $20 in 2001 according to the Reserve Bank Of Australia Inflation Calculator is more than $25 in modern dollars, so that wasn't quite as cheap as it seems). I think the venue was called something like the Commercial Club, and no, in calling it that there wasn’t a hint of intended irony or edginess, it was simply the fact that it was located on Commercial Road. From memory, this night was exceedingly unpleasant, with five-thick echelons of people impatiently pushing towards the bar, aggressively jostling for an opening until they finally got served every 50 minutes. Even worse, I never came close to getting my money’s worth in “free” booze. Also, the music was crap.
Not so with this venue (the behaviour part I mean — the music was still crap). For whatever reason, a potentially explosive swill fest remained entirely civilised, and I take my hat off to the organisers for managing to achieve such a feat with no immediately visible douchebags spoiling the situation.
My third observation concerned the music being played and how much I thought it sucked. Grooving along to the very best in top 40 and commercial smash hits were gaggles of girls in high heels, creating movement in those inappropriately short skirts, their legs planted around fixed dance floor circles in which were found beacons of handbags. Geez, I can’t remember the last time I was in one of these places, I thought. But hey, the beer was free, so why am I complaining?
After taking in the bar and the really happenin’ dancefloor I got caught in a bottleneck on my way to the outside balcony. Here an attractive young lady said some excessively bubbly hellos to Wolfgang, complete with kisses on the cheek and a tight hug. She must have been 21 or 22 and had some trendy-looking ink on her shoulders. Then she landed a mildly forceful hug on me and attempted to kiss me on the cheek too, seeing as, you know, I was Wolfgang’s mate and all. I guess she didn’t think much of my hello to you too though — if we were shaking hands then my attempt at avoiding a kiss and hug would have amounted to a limp cold fish. Clearly she wasn't impressed because she insisted I say hello to her properly. “I want your lips to touch my cheek," she instructed.
“Uhm…,” I mumbled.
“I’ll be right,” I said.
Then there was this fantastically awkward pause where neither of us said anything.
Thankfully, she had the courtesy to extricate us with a mildly witty repartee that allowed us both to retain some measure of dignity. “You must be the only grownup here,” she said, and flittered off.
Apparently she worked at the venue.
One of the more interesting encounters occurred a few drinks later with one of Wolfgang’s friends. I vaguely recall seeing her at various noise gigs and the occasional house party but that was it mostly.
We quickly established that yes, the alternative / duff / goth /noise / industrial world is at times even smaller and incestuous than we imagine it to be. Then we somehow got onto the topic of tattoos where I said something to the effect of it must be pretty ballsy for her to have ink work that remains visible on places other than arms and shoulders. That is, she had the sort of tattoos you don’t bother covering up. In response, she showed me a small piece on the back of her neck.
Now funnily enough, that also happens to be the name of one of my favourite industrial tunes, released a while back by Velvet Acid Christ, or VAC for short. When this girl showed me her There Is No God tattoo I casually asked if that had anything to do with VAC. I was fully expecting a blank look, as often occurs when I make obscure industrial music references, but next thing you know her face veritably lit up.
“Oh my God, you’re only the second person to ever mention that,” she said delightedly (I’d had a few drinks so she may not have mentioned the “God” part).
We exchanged Facebook details and a few days later I noticed that her first post on my feed was a photo of her displaying snot that she had extracted herself.