I sent a text message to my friend Graeme yesterday morning, suggesting a few after work drinks at a gay pub on the edges of the city and not far from my neighbourgood of Newtown. A little place called Mr Mary's.
A bit of back story, some exposition for the story. Newtown has a really large gay community, and up until about a year ago was home to two thriving gay venues. The Newtown Hotel, and The Imperial Hotel. Both had been around for decades, and The Imperial was best known as the setting for the opening interior shots, and the exterior 'getting on the bus' shots in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert". The drag shows at both venues were legendary, especially at The Imperial where there was a large show bar out then back with stage etc. The good thing about The Newtown was that it was 'the local' for the broad variety of folks that live in Newtown.
Anyhoo, Sydney is going through somewhat of a slump in the commercial gay scene. The Imperial is closed for renovations that are long overdue, and The Newtown closed over some sort of issue between the licensee/tenant and the landlord. It now stands empty and forlorn in the heart of Newtown. Oxford St, the main gay drag of Sydney is now a grotty hole of a place (in my humble opinion), with a fraction of the venues it once had and a higher rate of aggressive drunks on the street. Not somewhere I choose to go anymore if I have a choice.
So I joined Graeme at a pub near his work, where he was having farewell drinks for a few people from his work. I'm not really supposed to drink anymore, but I haven't been out for drinks with friends in ages so I kind of threw caution to the wind slightly. I say slightly because I stuck to light beers.
Which is a good policy, unless you drink your own body weight in them.
Drinks with his workmates was really nice, and as things started to break up Graeme and I decided to hop on a bus in the freezing cold to head off to Mr Mary's, to hang with the 'mos. Cue two gay men climbing the stairs and walking into a completely deserted bar. Completely. No bar staff, no bottles behind the bar. Another one bites the dust it would seem.
There is a small 'gaming room' with a tiny bar and poker type slot machines downstairs, so Graeme and I headed down to find out what was going on. Somehow the main venue managed to lose their liquor licence. Oh-kay. After one quickly downed beer in the company of 3 gamblers and 1 bar staff (who was reading a magazine when we walked in), we headed back out into the cold.
We decided to try the new suburban incarnation of the leather bar Manacle in Petersham, a suburb not too far from my place. Word had it that there was a friendly front bar and a more 'serious' leather bar out the back. The crowd was pretty friendly and a slightly older demographic. I actually quite enjoyed it, especially the front bar (yes, we ventured out the back for a look). The Olympics opening ceremony was on the big screens and much of the crowd was tuned into watching it. Graeme was bit less moved by the place than I was, but I would definately give it another try.
Next time though, if I decide to venture out to the back bar I think I might try and dress... well... more appropriately. The black jeans and hoodie were ok, but I'm not sure the purple shirt and black & purple argyle sleeveless pullover are what you'd call leather bar attire.