Love outside The Square

6 Sep

During the week while having my eyebrows waxed I was told something disturbing, and for once it wasn’t about my problem skin. My beautician, who loves hearing my manMap tips, told me she thought Surry Hills was full of gay guys. I was horrified by this misconception. Had she said Taylor Square or Darlinghurst, I could understand. But if women who work locally think Crown Street only attracts the gay community, there’s a clear need to re-educate the public.  

Most Sydney-siders know Oxford Street is the heart of the gay community. A girl feeling mournful about singledom could do worse than a good dose of dancing in a room full of gay guys. Sure, they won’t want to take you home or ask for your number but you’ll get more compliments than at a straight bar. And you’ll feel better about yourself the next day than if you stayed home re-enacting the All by myself scene from Bridget Jones.

But just because the Darlo end of Oxford Street houses Stonewall and the Columbian, it doesn’t mean the entire area is rendered useless for straight women. In fact, growing numbers of straight men are heading to the hood for the live music at Spectrum and The Oxford Art Factory. Studios like BJB and the head offices of Sony and MTV have created a local music culture that’s growing by the album.

But not all ladies want to spend the night in a reverberating venue where it’s too loud to talk. A good alternative is a Sunday stroll down Crown Street to Surry Hills. There are delightful cafés and shops all the way along. And no, you probably won’t find your dream man drinking coffee on the sidewalk. If you spy someone of interest in a café, it’s likely he’ll be there with his girlfriend. But there’s no reason you and your wing-girls can’t go for a window shop, have some lunch and then head to one of the local pubs for an afternoon beverage.

And that’s where you’ll meet the men, making the most of the tail-end of their weekend.

manMap winds down at The ClockLast Sunday I spent my afternoon at The Clock, which reminds me a little of The London in Balmain. The balcony upstairs makes it ideal for enjoying a beer in the sun. And balconies are a huge blessing for women. Instead of men being clumped in corners or gathering around tables, making it difficult to interact with them, they’re lined up along the railing. You don’t even need to sit next to them because it’s likely that, at some point, you’ll have to squeeze past each other to get to the bar. And while there were a few gay guys there, the majority were straight and single.

Best of all, not one man declined doing a survey for me, despite my problem skin and crooked eyebrows (there’s only so much a beautician can do). They were primarily locals who were into music and sport. They all had single friends (even the partnered ones) and liked to hang out in Surry Hills, which has side-streets full of watering holes.

These pubs attract the laid back, unpretentious, straight men.

And it’s this set that’s often overlooked: they’re not the fashionistas in the social pages of the Herald, they’re not the gourmands attracted to the hatted restaurants nearby and they’re not the guys who live for the nightlife around Taylor Square. They’re the ordinary folk who could very easily share something extraordinary with the right woman.

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