Bar-Hopping After Midnight May Result In A Premature Last Call
Here’s a tip for you if you are out in The Rocks, the pub-filled nightlife area of Sydney, Australia: If you are in a pub at midnight, stay there and don’t leave.
Because you may not get in another pub that night.
That’s due to a stricter-than-necessary screening process by the independent security guards who guard the doors into those pubs. These men in their neon yellow vests are employed by the city to essentially screen people who have had too much to drink from continuing to have more to drink.
Only the application is not exactly beneficial to the bars or certainly some somewhat sober patrons. I know this from first-hand experience because I was denied entry into a bar after midnight on a Saturday night and it left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth about the area.
Which is too bad, because it’s a very fun area. At least before midnight.
I was with a female mate and we left one pub to hit The Orient Hotel, known throughout Sydney as a good after-midnight spot for singles. After letting the girl pass, the security bloke – and I use that word not as a term of endearment but rather because it rhymes with dope – said to me, “not tonite mate.”
I didn’t know what he was talking about so I asked for clarification. He said nothing and when I asked what the problem was, he said “I can’t understand you” and would not let me enter.
“That’s because I’m speaking American,” I quipped. But he would have none of it. From the look of him – tall with a balding head, oversized moustache, drooping eyes and the kind of enthusiasm for his job that brings to mind the staff at a DMV office – he must be the most boring person in Sydney, if not quite possibly all of Australia. If he had a slogan it would be “if I’m not any having fun, YOU are not having any fun!”
Sure, I had a few beers in me – hell, the area is lined with pubs, many with live music! – but I did not stagger up to the bar, was not swaying and was dressed in nice jeans and a black collared shirt. My speech was not slurred and given the chance, I could have rambled off the alphabet and even named an Australian prime minister (not the current one, mind you, but the one who disappeared, Harold Holt).
What are you supposed to do, show up stone-cold sober at midnight!?
“Welcome to The Rocks,” a passer-by said to me.
Had we stayed in the previous bar we could have kept drinking to closing time (which is only until 1 a.m., anyway). Or had we gone earlier to The Orient, the screening process would not have been so rigid, at least according to my mate. “Things change after midnight,” she said, and so we jumped in a cab and left.
At about the same time the previous night, I was nearly stopped at another pub while out on my own. The security guy – a younger one with a more casual demeanor – asked me how many beers I had that night. I thought he was joking, so I said, “I didn’t know I was supposed to count!”
“Yes you are,” came the reply in a pretty serious tone. So I lied and said I had two. Then I walked inside the pub and had at least two more beers.
Why The Rocks does this is unclear to me, although it is clear that something happened that caused the city to bring in outside security. There are even signs up in the bars saying “It’s Not Worth It,” telling of $550 fines for unruly behavior. Not one person I observed in any pub in The Rocks would be a candidate for this fine, so I’m not sure the reason for this strict attitude.
The Rocks is the original area of the convicts in Australia and was, until about the late 1800s, a great place to get beat up in the alleyways of Sydney. Perhaps a few people decided to rekindle this tradition after tipping back a few pints.
And while I very much appreciate a safe environment where I do my drinking, free from fights and wildly drunken behavior, at least one yellow-vested doorman is taking it to the extreme.