Love: warts and all

27 Oct

I heart Sydney. Our harbour city just does it for me. I love her big skies, her open coastlines, her city built on hills with streets set at random angles. And although I’m scheduling an affair with New York during January, I know I’ll be coming home to the place that’s right for me.The wart of Sydney

But like all lovers, Sydney has some attributes that get on my nerves, some quirks I’m not comfortable with. Up until now I’ve done my best to side-step these features but manMap has changed that. I’ve realised certain things about the city must be faced and embraced. So on Saturday night, supported by some lovely wing-girls who were there for me in my hour of need, I held an intervention with my most hated part Sydney: the Rocks.

This might come as a surprise, given that there are some pretty awful corners of Sydney, but I really don’t like going to pubs the Rocks. Markets, galleries, Zia Pina: no problem. Pubs: no thanks.

I accept that I’m completely prejudiced after a few bad experiences and that I’ve judged the area unfairly. It’s hard to put to rest memories of drunken thugs swinging punches on long weekends or the “meat-market for tourists” vibe you feel in some pubs. I just don’t like it. It’s not for me. Despite my single status, I’d rather go somewhere where the air is heavily loaded with testosterone. And so it was with a huge serve of anxiety that I headed out on Saturday, no longer able to ignore the wart on my beloved city’s chin.

Keen to avoid the strip on George Street where the music’s loud and there’s always someone farting profusely on the dance floor, we started at the Harbour View. I’d been there a few times before for lunch but had never ventured beyond the ground floor. Despite the terrible weather the outlook was good, view and clientele inclusive. The cocktail bar on the top floor had a decent mix of men from an age and interests point-of-view. There were two big groups of guys and a number of smaller gatherings eating dinner, enjoying a drink and watching the lights on the harbour. Mingling was relatively easy and despite running into a group that epitomised the “meat-market for tourist” crowd, the rest were nice, decent guys.

Amazed that I hadn’t hated every moment of surveying, we moved on to the Hero of Waterloo, a lovely little pub that reminded me of Colonial Day in primary school (only with alcohol). By the time we arrived, it was fairly late and the crowd had thinned but I still got a few surveys done, confirming that there were single guys there. While a guitar-strumming duo covered classic rock in one half of the pub, tables of guys unwound in the other half. It felt comfortable, relaxed and free from the macho-bullshit that makes my skin crawl. Our late arrival meant I didn’t get to survey all the guys there before closing but I’m actually looking forward to going back.

As we headed home I realised I was guilty of stereotyping the Rocks’ weekend-crowd. They weren’t all “new to Sydney foreigners” looking to get drunk and pick up as part of their induction program. Some guys had come from the Eastern suburbs or North Shore to enjoy a catch-up with mates. Others were from down south and were in the CBD for a day of photography. So I want to end by saying thank you to the great guys I met on Saturday. Not only have you contributed to my research, but you’ve helped me be more open-minded about my favourite place to hate. I’ll always dislike that notorious strip on George Street. But now I know that just above the wart, on one of those city hills, is a cluster of pubs I can love.


4 Responses to “Love: warts and all”

  1. athenapallas October 28, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    I’m so glad you have re-assessed the Rocks as I had cause to do the same recently. Strangely for a Greek Goddess I go to Buddhist practice just down the road from the Hero of Waterloo. One evening I was early and decided to drop in for a look. It was a week night so fairly empty but enough people to feel welcome and not crowded.I was at ease there drinking a nice glass of red, noticing the odd Adonis or two and feeling good. I will certainly return. I did pass it one Saturday and yes it was a bit noisy but hey that’s ok too. Sometimes when we are doing our chants and bells down the road we can hear the music and that is an opportunity to integrate our practice with whatever is present.

    • Lucie Stevens October 28, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

      Hi Athena,
      I’m afraid if I had a glass of red before a Buddist practice I would spend the whole time giggling and hiccuping – I’m sure it wouldn;t be appreciated. I suppose goddesses have better tolerance than me…glad to hear you spied a few Adonises on your visit!

  2. beachblogger October 29, 2010 at 5:36 pm #

    The Hero of Waterloo must have changed a lot since I last went there … back then it was packed with sweaty heavy drinkers and a brawl broke out within minutes of my arrival… I would say your earlier impressions of the Rocks were right and the Hero at least has cleaned up its image … it used to be known as Sydney’s most violent pub …

    • Lucie Stevens November 1, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

      Oh wow – maybe I just cause it on an off night! Will have to investigate another night just to make sure my experience there wasn’t a one-off.

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