The pier astor byron bay
The seating arrangements on Saturday nights were casually enforced. Queenslanders held the top property in the front middle section, handy to both the bar and dance floor, Lismore girls to the left, visiting surfers from Sydney at the right and to the rear and the locals were free to roam all about the walls – like beach fishermen rounding on a school of mullet.
The room could only fit about twenty tables, beer was sold in jugs and the band wandered in from the public bar at about nine in the evening. Five of them, two guitars, one bass, one drums and one vocal. The Invincibles, or The Delinquents, or possibly The Misanthropes – and despite their unconvincing appearance and Lismore dag they always managed to put together a good first set.
The empty parquet floor though mocked their music as nobody wanted to be the first up, and it quickly became a no-mans land as the surrounding tribes tested their debating skills on each other. Anyone crossing the floor became subject to a loud and ruthless exchange.
Enmities took quick root and a hot mix of booze, music and parochial justification powered through the room; it slid along the wet floor and wriggled up the table legs and into the jugs and set the infection.
A collective drunkenness slowly took hold of the crowd as the night grew older and a group of local girls took a liking to the empty dance floor and all the eyes that surrounded it, beginning what became a stampede to rhythm as every man in the room rushed in to join them.
The band wound it up hard right away, knowing their crowd when it arrived, jamming five-minute numbers into major opuses, crashing out the entire litany of popular numbers with each one of them encored by roars of enthusiasm. The room was jumping. Everybody was buying beers for the drummer.
The two big local men who have come in late are seated at one of the tables by the wall as an empty jug is hurled across the room to shatter at their feet. They both calmly scan the group from where the missile originated and their gaze settles on the biggest of them over there, a large broad-shouldered oaf with a look of sodden belligerence. His half dozen friends are loudly applauding the throw and are all encouraging him for another as he drains another half empty jug. The beer streams from his mouth and cascades down his shirt and into his jeans. He slams the jug down on the table and looks over at the two men, focuses on them, he tells them both to go and get fucked, he tells them to fuck the fuck off, he calls them a pair of poofters, and he mimes pulling down the zip of his jeans and exposing himself and all his friends cackle and hoot and goad him on.
Together with a few of his friends he moves away from the table and advances on the two men, who sit and wait, but his snarled words are lost in the cacophony as the noise is immense now with both the band in full cry and the dance floor jammed with writhing bodies, all the tables are strewn with bottles, jugs and glasses. Mounds of broken glass have been swept into the corners of the room and the floor is pooled with spilt liquor and everybody in the room is drunk, except the two big men.
They have come for their sport, and their sport has found them.
That carry-on moved southwards with the inevitable gentrification: the Lennox public bar mid 80’s was still a great venue to get punched out.
Swinging doors at the public bar: OK Saloon.
Brickies and other angry tradies building in the crowds of newcomers which they engaged in quixotic struggle.
Puts a chill down the spine.
All gone now with the latest yuppy renovation. Even the sketch of wheelbarrow Pete: taken down and dumped.
More boat shoes than plaster and dirt.
those two lads were seadog and bruce r – bruce came up from kings cross with a fearsome reputation and both of them took on the beach fishermen one saturday night – the rest of us watched from a distance
I visited a pub in Byron with my landlord and a fight ensued immediately over a misplaced bicycle(?). Never sipped a beer until I got back to my flat and for that, I had to walk, our bikes had been “confiscated”.
Surfed a sandbank further up the bay from the wreck the next day with a huge welt on my lip and a half closed right eye. Still remember how good it is was until the wind switched lightly and the most awful smell suffocated the air.
Decidedly Un-gentrified (byron) and I hid like a Rabbit at Kuilima until the Pass broke properly again. Those days, Broken was an empty place to ply your trade and I healed physically, but I never entered the pub again.
“more boat shoes than plaster and dirt”…. bout says it, “progress” and all.
I was one of those Lismore girls. We used to ‘hitch’ to the Bay every Saturday night.
Everyone wanted to know the Lismore girls, they had the moves .. one thing selenaestelle, did you know the big stomper?
Didn’t know him, but knew about him! Great times were had by all!
He was a she, the big stomperess, she used to bring the babes down from Lismore in her little Austin, or Fiat, tiny little thing full of legs and perfume.