Thursday, June 16, 2011

Back from the Land Down Under! Feat. Newtown


On Wednesday night, Stephy, Ash and I headed into Newtown, Sydney. Up until then, I’d felt pretty underwhelmed by the Sydney vibe, even though we’d had loads of fun at The Rocks on Sunday. It just all seemed very… straight-edged. But Newtown?

So very different!!!

We were going to Newtown for a reason, which was for Steph’s then-soon-to-be-nephew’s farewell party. (Did you get all that? Her then-soon-to-be-nephew. Andrew’s nephew. And this was the week before the wedding. Hope that clears things up for ya.) He was having a big ol’ get-together before jetting off to Europe for two-ish months; and she and Andrew, and by extension, Ash and I, were invited. I had an idea of what Newtown would be like beforehand, because everyone who heard that we were heading there looked straight at me and said, “You’ll fit right in with that hair and those tattoos.” Apparently, the more… alternative Sydneysiders congregate there. I was intrigued at the very least. And when we discovered that there was at least one store in King Street that sold Iron Fist? Well, that resulted in three very excited ladies on the train on the way there!

A couple of people had said that Newtown is a little on the dodgy side, and I was hoping so, because I had yet to see evidence that anyone in Sydney breaks the rules. Newtown restored my faith in rebel-kind, though, thankfully! We saw a couple of junkies, some drunkards, at least one hooker and, one of the highlights of my trip, someone getting arrested. One guy, drunk and leering. Two cops couldn’t do it alone, so before we knew it, there were two unmarked cars pulled up at the lights and another four plain-clothes cops piled out and assisted in restraining this guy. Granted, he was a big-ish guy, but really? Six cops? Steph found it highly amusing how at home I felt in the only place we’d seen someone getting arrested, and witnessed what could have been (and probably was) a drug deal.

*shrugs* I’m from Joburg…. It takes a lot of rule-breaking to phase me!

The stores in Newtown were awesome. We arrived there quite late, so didn’t get to enjoy too much shopping, which is probably just as well for my bank balance, but the selection and variety of stuff was fabulous! Everything from old-school record stores to Rockabilly gear to button shops and crochet and knitting schools / coffee shops. Oh, and LOADS of adult stores. At least one per block. I squeed and did a little jig in front of a record store which had a genuine original Birthday Party t-shirt in the window, next to an Iggy Pop concert poster. Luckily we had a time limit, otherwise the girls may never have torn me away from that window. We motored on to Faster Pussycat, in search of the perfect pair of Iron Fist shoes for Ash.

When we got there, I was instantly besotted. The shoe display is at the back of the store, directly opposite the door, and Ash and I gasped and clutched onto each other as we both realized in the same moment that, not only did they stock Iron Fist, but Bordello shoes! 

We may have become two little puddles in front of the shoe display as Stephy tried to get us to control ourselves. It can’t have been an easy task, but somehow, she did it. I wandered around taking in every last detail of the store, and almost turned inside out when I realized the guy behind the counter was sporting the most inspiring Rockabilly sideburns I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. It was really, really difficult to leave!

Sadly, they didn’t have the Iron Fist shoes Ash was coveting, and she’s not one to settle for anything less than her dream, so we somehow left Faster Pussycat empty-handed. I stole one last glance at the cutie shop guy and his prolific facial stylings, and we moved on up King Street in search of Freaky Tiki. We found it pretty early on, and loathe to be the first at the party, we moseyed back down King St a block or two and found a sleazy, dingy little pub to settle in for a few pre-party drinks. And drink we did! It was also that night that we took our subtle appreciation of hotties to an as-yet untouched level of perving, and it started with the gambling man in the dingy pub. Ash was on the hunt of an Aussie hunk, after all, and three pairs of eyes are better than one! (This also happened to be the only time and place I heard anyone playing any Nick Cave for the duration of my stay, so I was pleased as punch that we’d wound up there to kick-start our party!)


Once we’d had our fill of perving over hot gambling men while engrossed in pretty intense conversations, backed by the madness of the Bad Seeds, we made our way over to Freaky Tiki. We’d all had a drink or two by then and made our way directly to the bathrooms, where, while I was complimenting a pink-haired girl on her Edgar Allen Poe t-shirt, Steph noticed this on the back of the bathroom door:

*ding ding ding* It was then that I knew there was no going back from the crazy realm we’d entered a few stops back. Not long after we arrived, Luke, the boy of the hour, arrived and freaked Steph out a few times by introducing her as his 'soon-to-be-aunt'. She wasn’t ready to accept that, even though he’s only a couple of years younger than us, she was on the threshold of being his New Aunty Steph. I thought it was pretty cool that he was about to acquire such a cool Aunty, and she such a cute nephew, but I don’t think she was prepared for that aspect of getting hitched.* Hehe

The downside of the Freaky Tiki part of the night was that the music of choice was all hip-hop. Now, don’t get me wrong, hip-hop has its place in the world!** Clearly there are people out there who are into it (God-knows-why) and they were all having a wonderful time. We tried, we really did (we even danced, to no avail), but we just couldn’t get into that bass line, and sauntered off after a couple of drinks, leaving the young ‘uns and their Fifty Cent (or whatever he calls himself now) behind us.

We were at the mercy of the Universe and the elements once more, and ambled back down King St in search of a) another Pure Blonde, and b) a bathroom. What we found was a hidden jewel! I’m not sure what it was that drew us all in at the same time, but it could have been the adorable bouncer (Yes, adorable. Don’t ask. He just looked it.) Nonetheless, we all stopped at the door, looked at each other, and nodded.

Kelly’s on King it was.

*Barmen not included
We stepped into a very warm Irish-style pub which was in the midst of karaoke night and felt like we’d come home. Especially when we laid eyes on the barmen. Lord! Have! MERCY! Young-ish. Tender-ish. Mouldable-ish***. SO much of sexyish!!! My pick of the bunch? The one we nicknamed ‘the 17-year-old-Kurt-lookalike’. Yea…. He bore a pretty strong resemblance to Kurt Cobain, if he’d had a haircut and stayed off the hard shit. Naturally, I was enraptured. I’m not sure where we got the ’17-year-old’ part from, but I imagine it was from Ash, who I recall reprimanded me with things like, “You’re a married woman!” (My response: “Everyone has a Freebie List. Even my husband! And hey, Kurt Cobain is on mine, alongside the word ‘Miracle’. Tell me you don’t feel the Spirit at work in this place?!”) and “He’s way too young.” (Me: “I can look at the kiddies menu! Even though I’ll go home and have a grown-up meal!”)

Between perving at the barmen, we became the unofficial back up singers for… well, pretty much everyone who had the balls to get up and do a song for karaoke. Steph and I were keen to dust off our old Rocky Horror fave, Over at the Frankenstein Place, but couldn’t find it (which made for two very sad ladies in Kelly’s, spending lots of time at the bar,… drowning their sorrows). Instead, we just chimed in strategically with everyone else’s songs and the three of us decided we should start marketing ourselves as professional back-up singers. We even agreed to be based in Sydney, as long as we could keep going to Kelly’s to rehearse. *cough* A deal was forged and practice began immediately. (Added bonus: We harmonise over most bad karaoke, so it doesn’t sound quite as horrendous. Justsayin’. Although there wasn't much we could do about an especially off version of this)

Our first Newtown Experience came to an end around 2h30 that morning, once Andrew had had enough of alternately awesome & awful karaoke and I had to get away from the semi-toothless**** guy who was trying to hit on me. When I realized what he was trying, I decided it was time to get moving. We apparently went in search of Kebabs or curry or something in Auburn, but I have pretty much no recollection of that beyond saying, “How long till we get home? Coz I might need to hurl.” Shortly after that, I have a kind of fuzzy memory of pouring myself into bed, vowing not to get up before sunset. I make these promises, but I never keep them…

Until next time my little potato wedges!


* Hope you’re starting to get used to it, darling!

** Down at the green end of the musical gene pool, with all the baggy pants and skew hats. But that’s just my humble, rock-minded opinion.

*** How appropriate that spellcheck suggested 'Mountable' as a substitute for the apparently non-existent word 'Mouldable'

**** This was the beginning of the revelation that I seem to have a theme song. This I seem to have the natural talent of attracting weirdos. Steph pointed out, though, that like attracts like, so I shouldn’t be alarmed that the weird ones find me. Still, to be safe, I’ve already made a dentist’s appointment. Just as a precaution.
(As an explanation, Stephy did mention that, while medical care is free is Australia, dental isn’t included in that, and is quite expensive, which is why it’s not uncommon to see tandelose manne en vroue roaming the streets. I guess in an area like Newtown, where junkies roam free, teeth are an incidental, not a necessity…)

Coming Up: Koala Parking; Hot Child in the City; Wedding Round Up; Cruising Sydney; The Entrance Road Trip; Newton Part II; Coming Home; What I Learnt in Australia

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