“Pop Up” things have had a hefty little surge in recent times around town. I haven’t paid too much attention other than noticing the words “pop up” more often in the last 12 months or so than in previous times, and I certainly didn’t think about the idea properly at all, until I heard about this pop-up bar in Clifton Hill, a slightly northern inner city suburb of Melbourne.
Why did I care about this one and no others? Pretty much just because it’s name is Godzilla, and the photo I saw on ThreeThousand.com while I was in Perth was intriguing. I promised myself I would check it out when I got back to Melbourne, but then I forgot, but then I saw that one of my favourite Melbourne bands were playing a gig this Saturday, and my house mate was throwing a Miami Vice themed party that night that I didn’t want anything to do with until I was druuuuuunk, and Godzilla happened to be walking distance from my house so my favourite drinking buddy and I hightailed it up there to finally check it out.
It took us a while to find the entrance. The building itself looked abandoned, an old pub that shut down years ago and no one had touched it since. The windows were covered, and we could kind of hear music coming from within, but in that area on a Saturday it could have been coming from anywhere. We had to ask the bar down the road for directions. I hate doing that to bars and cafes (HEY I KNOW YOU’RE A BAR BUT CAN YOU TELL ME HOW TO GET TO SOME OTHER BAR THAT IS BETTER PLEASE THANKS), but it was necessary. It was the second last evening of Godzilla’s existence, at least in this building, and I had to see it. Going home to a backyard full of snow boarders and bmx-ers on all kinds of drugs before I was adequately satisfied with an interesting little tidbit of this city’s culture was not an option.
I lost my wallet a few days earlier, so when we arrived at the side entrance, the bouncer did his job and asked for my i.d and I didn’t have it, but my date for the evening had his, and he is 25, and I am 24, and I stated my case to the bouncer, knowing full well he shouldn’t have let me in but damn it I was going to try anyway, explained I was a bartender so I get it and everything but seriously man, I’m 24, do I look 17 to you, pretty smile and fluttering eyelashes etc. He called the manager to get his okay to let me in, and wouldn’t you know it, the manager turned out to be an old high school friend of my date. We were granted entry- despite the lack of proof of my age- with a shout of my date’s surname and a swift nod of the head to the bouncer.
We turned a corner into the main walkway to the bar, which I recognised from that photo I saw on the internet that I mentioned earlier. A small path was carved out between two huge piles of construction debris, lit all the way along by tea lights on the floor and the faint glow of the next room. I could see little shapes in the heaps next to me that implied they could be shelters for street dwellers or some such thing, which I thought I little pointless, but when it’s nearly pitch black and you’ve got speakers hidden away amongst the rubble that are playing tracks of people screaming in fear, you may as well push the silly the whole way.
I may as well be honest and let you know that, stupidly, it took me way too long to make the connection between the detritus that surrounded me in the entryway and the name of this temporary venue. I’m a retard. So be it.
After the big rubbishy entrance, we entered what felt like a mini maze through the toilets to get to the main bar bit, but it wasn’t actually that hard, it just felt hard because all the walls were covered in shitty tags and I got confused because every wall looked the same. The toilet blocks were lit with those plug in industrial looking lamps, stage lights or something, changing colour slowly from red to orange to green to blue to white then back again. It wasn’t the most pleasant time for my eyes, but I appreciated the atmosphere.
The bar itself was in a corner of a large room, next to the empty stage which wasn’t technically a stage, more of a bit of carpet on the ground with all the equipment on top. We were early enough to see some guys in the super low light (more stage lights, it would appear that not a single light fitting in the building was in use) testing out the smoke machine on the slightly raised catwalk thing that jutted out into the centre of the room. I guessed that it had at some point been utilised by scantily clad girls as a way of extracting money from the pockets of appreciative and/or bemused patrons.
After a shot of Godzilla’s Wet Pussy, we took our beers into the smoking area, which turned out to be the old cool room of the building converted into a seating area. Again, completely covered in graffiti, though not all of them were shitty tags. Some were funny things, which I liked. And a few Godzilla movie poster pasteups. But mainly, indoor smoking! What the hell! I never thought I’d see it in a bar again. A few people ventured into the smoking area, every one of them appearing to be looking for someone because they each turned around straight away at the sight of my date and I lounging alone on the couches. By then we figured people must be filling the bar, so we headed back in through the haze of the now fully activated smoke machine, barely able to see our feet, let alone our friends. Eventually we saw a few familiar faces, grabbed them, and went back to the now full smoking area, and guess what… BIKINI WAITRESSES WERE HANDING OUT SHOTS.
Yeah that’s right. They weren’t technically in bikinis though. They were two alternative looking young ladies in high waisted black lace panties and black lace boob tube bras, strutting in heels with trays of Godzilla’s Wet Pussies for 5 bucks a pop, and everyone was loving it. I started to yell a little despite myself. I couldn’t keep the post-feminism weirdness from exploding out of my mouth- I was both amused and taken aback. This is not what I was expecting. Such blatant sales tactics at the hands of my date’s high school buddy, such an obvious jip for the customers. But I get it. People enjoyed themselves. The girls seemed comfortable. Their presence would have paid for itself in 15 minutes- everyone was buying a shot when they came around to the different groups, and everyone loved the long legs and taught tummies topped with pretty faces on display. The girls gave me a shot for free, though I’m not entirely sure why… maybe they appreciated my knowing smirk or something.
The gig happened in there somewhere, the band was Bits of Shit and they are fucking excellent, but that review is not for here, not for now. What I wanted you to know was my experience at my first pop-up bar, which was pretty nice I guess. Interesting for sure. Made me smile a few times. I think I like the whole pop-up thing. It makes complete sense, given the economic situation the western world finds itself in, with generation Y well into their 20’s now, doing their creative entrepreneurial thing targeted at an audience with a small attention span and an interest in all things original yet similar to what they already know. New things all the time, as few long term commitments as possible. Pop-up bars make sense, and they’re not bad at all. Yeah, I think I like it. Godzilla is/was cool, and I hope they did well for themselves. They deserve it, despite the nearly naked girls carrying trays of booze.