In Berlin there’s a bar built in an old brothel that hosts the décor of an upside down apartment. It offers the opportunity for patrons, in various states of inebriation, to gaze upwards at the furniture nailed to the roof and eventually convince themselves that it’s them actually hanging from the ceiling.
I’m currently unaware of a similar bar in Sydney, although with the plethora of small bars it could well exist. What is evident though are the efforts that bar and hotel owners are going to, in a very competitive market, to lure punters inside.
Once it was just beer and counter meals that attracted pub goers – then came dedicated dining areas, live entertainment like rock bands and dj’s, topless barmaids, wet t-shirt competitions, mechanical bulls, trivia nights, movie nights and of course the biggest magnet of them all – the dreaded pokies!
In the 80s and 90s, ‘pub rock’ was the staple entertainment in hundreds of hotels throughout Sydney but over the years, for a variety of reasons and changing public tastes, it’s been in a steady decline. Large corporate hotel groups have taken over, accumulating pub after pub, and live entertainment is seldom on their agenda.
A classic example is the old Sandringham Hotel in Newtown, for years a stalwart of the local Sydney indie rock scene. When the crew from Melbourne’s Northcote Social Club took over and christened it the Newtown Social Club, it looked like its musical legacy would continue for years. Yet after only a few years the organisers pulled out and the pub has now been reborn as ‘The Holey Moley’, boasting an eighteen hole mini golf course, yours for $33 a round.
Perhaps the question now arising is whether enticements such as hotel mini golf will soon become the new normal, with the various venues pulling out all stops to trump each other with bigger and brighter attractions. Dodgem cars, an indoor skating rink and even a climbing wall could soon grace some of our more innovative hotels but hang on – what about ‘RSA’, the responsible service of alcohol? The latter could all be fraught with danger, particularly if the participants have a skinfull.
Whilst ‘pub yoga’ is unlikely to catch on, it’s clear hotels and bars will need to look to more gentile activities and inducements. Some pubs are already encouraging patrons to bring their dogs inside and the more family oriented could well look to petting zoos stocked with ducks, baby chickens and other cuddly animals – all which could end up in the pub bistro at a later date.
In a number of US states, bars that feature a laundromat out the back have been a popular fixture for decades. They could well catch on here as you knock back a beer or two as your undies rotate madly in the spin cycle. The traditional happy hour could also offer a free wash and dry with even a badge draw for a free ironing service.
In just a few years or more the greatest novelty in Sydney could be finding a hotel or small bar, devoid of plasma screens and blaring loud music as well as a multitude of other attractions, where you could go for the proverbial quite drink. It may well mean the best option of all is to stay at home. Anybody for a round of mini golf?