Melbourne Misbehavin'

JOSH DARE meets the gay clubs' security.

Pull quote: One guy handcuffed the other to the foot rail round the bottom of the bar. But then, the lock in the handcuffs broke.

Much like Cinderella and her midnight deadline, after dark on most Saturday nights, Melbourne turns into an ugly scene. Imbibed punters pour out of their homes and in and out of the city’s clubs; drunk on self-confidence and full of an invincibility that only too many drinks can provide. And the gay clubs of this town are no exception.

“When I was running nights at Candy Bar”, says ex-head bitch The Pup, “whenever we had a line out the front, people used to jump over the fence into the courtyard – but the back fence was covered in a bush. We’d catch the people doing it, but half an hour later they’d be doing it again while their clothes are being ripped to shreds by the thorns.”

Seems getting in is where half the problem is, especially when it concerns the underage tykes. “They borrow friend’s IDs,” says Brett, the Market’s bouncer. “Or the most common excuse is ‘my wallet’s been stolen’ – like, probably about five wallets get stolen a night from people trying to get in who look very young.”

“Kids know to study their borrowed IDs,” he continues. “You can ask them their date of birth and then they’ll just ramble it off; it’s obviously studied. Then you ask them their star sign. Star sign’s a good one – as soon as you ask them, you can tell by their faces that they don’t know.”

It’s not just the little tykes that cause dramas. “The Sydney people are usually the funniest because if there’s a queue, they’ll come up to the front of the queue and say, ‘We’re from Sydney – do we have to queue?’. And they’re the same with paying.”

The mischievous behaviour doesn’t always stop at the front door, either. As another club’s security guard, “A couple of people have reached behind the bar and stolen bottles of alcohol. What people don’t realize is that pretty much the whole venue is on surveillance, CCTV or whatever. So they’ve got who’s done it. And one guy who did was dressed in drag, so he was hardly inconspicuous.” And, as you’d imagine, the bar isn’t the only problem area. “You wouldn’t believe the shit we’ve busted people doing in the toilet,” continues the anonymous bouncer. “Not just sex and drugs – that’s almost expected – but guys, erm… playing with what’s usually produced in the toilet cubicle, if you get my drift.”

All because of a couple of drinks. Sometimes more than a couple. “Drunks will always argue that they’re not drunk”, says Market’s Brett, “and they’ll be standing there swaying, they can’t focus on you, plus they’re slurring. And their friends will be standing there saying, ‘he’s only had one drink!’. Well, that’s a very big drink.”

It’s not just the clubs that have problems either. “I’ve quite often said it’s like running a kindergarten,” says Bruce at DT’s. “Occasionally people get carried away and have a bit of laugh and pull them into line and they know not to do it again.” For example? “About 8 or 9 years ago – just after opened – some guys were mucking around, and one guy handcuffed the other to the foot rail round the bottom of the bar. But then, the lock in the handcuffs broke. So of course this guy’s on the floor, handcuffed to the thing. We managed to squeeze him out after about an hour. The handcuffs are still there to prove the tale – around the pool table end of the bar.”

Despite a couple of bad eggs, all of Melbourne’s security workers I talked to maintained that Melbourne’s gay punters are usually on their best behaviour. “Generally, very much so,” concludes DT’s Bruce. “I’ve worked in straight pubs and the difference is amazing. One of the straight pubs I worked at in Darwin I got blood on my clothes three times in one night. But you don’t get that, you might get someone having a domestic or somebody’s offended one of their friends or somebody’s turned – but generally everyone’s very well behaved.”