Thursday, February 7, 2013

Back to the Colonial Hotel

A kind of shitty photo of the scene of the crime.

I had an interesting experience a couple of nights ago. Put simply, I had a run-in with the location that provides the background to a truly staggering amount of my teenage memories...many of which feature me literally staggering around. I went back to the Colonial Hotel for the first time in about five years and, upon seeing it clean and not filled with drunken young'uns (and not being a drunken young'un myself), had my mind blown when I realised where the hell I was. That was where my friends and I spent many, many a weekend circa 2007...being super alternative, going to an alternative club, and having all sorts of awkward teenage adventures in the World of Going Out to Clubs, which obviously none of us were well-versed in.

Context. I occasionally take photos and do some copywriting for the Venuemob. A quick plug, they're a really lovely bunch of dudes, and I'm having an absolute blast spending time in the office writing for them and occasionally trundling around town taking photos of venues. It's a welcome change from sitting around the house in my pyjamas doing "work", and it's nice to be earning money doing things that aren't waitressing and making coffees. So if you have a function coming up, give the website a look-see.


Tuesday night I made my way to the Colonial Hotel to take some photos of their various spaces for the Venuemob website. I got there, and the ground floor was nicely set up with tables and chairs and tablecloths and flowers. It all looked very classy. At that stage I had a vague recollection of having been there before, but I was in a rush and was running late. So I met the girl working that night we went upstairs and BAM. BAM. My mind exploded everywhere.

I remembered the stairs. I remembered the room to the right, that'd more often than not be playing 90s hits. I remembered the little in-between room, where people'd be making out. And I remembered the main room, with its bar on one end and D-Floor at the other, where I'd spent many, many weekends from the age of about eighteen till I dunno, a couple years after that.

My mouth agape, a few exclamations of "Holy shit! Ho-ly-SHIT!" escaped my face. "I remember this place!" I cried. "I came here all the time!" There was a guy with us too.

"What was the name of the night that was on here, on weekends? Ages ago?" I asked him.
"I dunno, there's been heaps. Um. Click Click?"
My arms flailed around. "YES! That was it! Click Click!"
He laughed. "Oh my god. That was ages ago. Years ago."
Well shit. I thought. I guess it was. 
"Yeah, it was."

It was strange to suddenly see the venue clean, and empty...and clean. Click Click and that other god-awful night that was on ... Pow, or Splooge, or Bang, or Crash or whatever the fuck it was called, my friends and I were there all the time. For those of you who never had the questionable good fortune to attend, it was a bunch of rooms playing "alternative" music while emo-fringed kids danced around and made out, and while my friends and I took our first foray into the world of going out and getting kind of fucked up.

A pimply-faced youth. One of the few photos
of that era I could find on Facebook.

It was a time when kids still hung out in front of Flinders Street Station. It was a time when everyone had an emo fringe. It was a time when people still used Myspace. It was a time when my friends and I hadn't exactly figured out our style and schtick and what exactly it was that we were about. So obviously, I occasionally wore high heels and I had long hair.

My friend Nate rode over, to hang out/keep me company/kill time before we met Jaz and Mike at the Liberty Social to see a Yeasayer DJ set. As I snapped away, I excitedly told Nate about the adventures my high school friends and I had within the very red walls, and on the now-empty and now-clean dance floor.

"Dude, this was the place we spent our weekends!" I repeated again in astonishment.
"Oh, cool."
"Seriously! This is where we ended up on my nineteenth birthday!"

He was obviously attempting to be interested in my exclamations while he fiddled absentmindedly on his phone. As one of the newer additions to our circle of friends, Nate didn't have the kind of context for five-year-old adventures that Jaz and Alice might. He didn't know me when I was an obnoxious kid. He met me when I was an obnoxious 23-year-old, after all (lol). Still, in the now-empty rooms I had to share the myriad (admittedly blurry) memories rush back to me.

Oh man, the memories! We'd jump around on the D-Floor, singing along to Karnivool's "Themata" for the umpteenth time. That song was played multiple times a night, and we all complained about it ("WHY DON'T THEY PLAY ALBUM TRACKS!"), right before we sang along at the top of our lungs. Back then, I hung out with band-tshirt clad guys, and I almost exclusively dressed in things bought from Dangerfield. We were all skinnier, and we all had longer hair. It was in those rooms that we almost dutifully drank too much, then cabbed our way back to one of our houses then fall asleep on the floor.

We were not particularly well-versed in drinking (we started late), but we'd get it done. The guys weren't particularly good at picking up, and neither was I, but at the tender age of eighteen it felt like that was expected of us. That to go out to a club, we also had to drink too much and attempt to pick up members of the opposite sex. Not that we didn't have an awesome time, but it was the kind of awesome time that you have when you don't quite know what you're doing, and when you don't quite know your limits.

Nate had met me in the "rooftop terrace", which I knew as the "room on the side that played older less metal stuff". I remembered being there on my nineteenth birthday, dancing to "This Charming Man" with a friend from uni. I remembered drunkenly wondering out loud whether or not I should break up with my first boyfriend dancing to some shitty R&B. As we descended the the stairs, and I remembered stumbling down them, and once carrying my blonde friend down them so I could take her home on one of the few occasions she'd joined us at the sprawling club.

Nate sat on the couches downstairs, taking photos of himself with my little iPhone fish-eye lens. I looked around us, at the pillars around the tables around us, so nicely set up. Wasn't this once a club as well?

"Oh MY GOD." I exclaimed.
Nate looked up. "What?"
"This is where Mitch and I met! Except it was a club then, not a restaurant! Oh my GOD."
Nate laughed. "Was he working? Did you say, 'Forget the beer, I'll have your FACE.'?"
"No...shit. I can't believe this looks so different...!"
I laughed, and made a mental note to tell Mitch. It was beyond bizarre.

Anyway, I finally finished taking those gazillion 360 degree virtual tours, and Nate and I left. We headed to the Liberty Social, to meet Jaz and Mike. I was driving. I approached the door and was surprised when the bouncer demanded to see my ID, which I didn't have.

"Seriously man. I'm twenty-four."
I looked over at Nate. He was laughing.
Seriously man. I wanted to tell the bouncer. I just spent the last hour reminiscing about my teenage clumsy drinking and disco pashes. This guy is younger than my younger brother. I AM OLD ENOUGH TO GO INTO THIS BAR.
Instead I said. "Dude. Come on."

It sounds stupid to feel old at this age
but I tell you what it was a weird night...

They let me in. I was driving, so I wasn't drinking. Jaz and Mike were already a bottle of wine and many beers into the night.

Admittedly, my first thought was I am way too sober to be in a room this filled with lasers and smoke machines. And admittedly, I spent the first twenty minutes or so awkwardly dancing, and being very aware of the fact that I was super sober and dancing. I was suddenly reminded of being a kid at Click Click, and being incredibly insecure about the fact that it was expected of me to "dance sexy". And obviously I couldn't do it. Because I was a complete geek, and so were my friends.

Before long though, Nate and I were making complete spectacles of ourselves on the ol' D-Floor, arms punching and legs kicking and jumping around. We pretended to be animals, we pulled faces, we made up truly absurd moves and danced around in a completely over the top way, not giving one iota of a fuck. Covered in sweat and completely sober, we danced up a storm to a DJ set that took a bizarre turn for the 90s-inspired. I laughed to myself, amazed. The nineteen-year old Reb could never have made that much of a D-Floor spectacle of herself while completely sober...unless I was moshing, of course. I would've been too self-conscious. But here I was, making ridiculous faces and making a fool of myself with Nate, who obviously gave even less of a fuck than I did.

Probably how I thought I looked back then.

If nothing else, it's heartening. I can dance my little heart out, and not care what anyone thinks. In fact, I wrote a post entitled "Times I've Enjoyed Dancing", expecting I'd write a few more. I quickly realised though, that every time I go out I now enjoy dancing. Is it something that comes with the years? Is it because I now hang out with people like Alice and Ferg and Nate, with whom I can't help but dance around and not give a fuck? Or am I just becoming more and more comfortable with myself? It's probably a little from columns A, B and C.

Besides that, the fact that I'm able to go out and not immediately sink a bunch of beers is heartening. That I (mostly) know my limits is something I've been glad to note also. Mostly though, the fact that I'm comfortable with myself now and (mostly) don't feel like that naive and insecure kid is something worth high-fiving myself about. PROGRESS.


The overriding feeling I was left with from Wednesday night though, was that it's fucking strange to suddenly think about so many hilarious drunken escapades that I hadn't thought about in many, many years. Jumping around to Rage Against the Machine with your best friends, having after-dark clubby adventures, being eighteen and stupid and fucking up ... it was the best of times, it was the blurst of times. Sunrise, sunset, all that shit.

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