A NIGHT club has been the hot topic in Hobart in the recent past and of night clubs I have, as Mr. Sinatra may have asserted, seen a few.

They have included an open air rumble of hot drums and cold beer in Accra, a blood house in Kumasi, a bar in East Berlin just after The Wall came down, a small hole in the wall in old Hong Kong and a bigger hole in the wall in new Hong Kong, some French elegance in Togoland, some French “grot” in Paris, soft lies and hard liquor in Dublin, a sweat house in Suva, Aggie Gray’s in Samoa, a neat little place in San Francisco featuring the MJQ, a grubby big place in the Tenderloin of the same city, superb music and ordinary beer in New York in the seventies, seediness in King’s Cross in the sixties, belly laughs and brawls at Ma Dwyer’s Esplanade Hotel in Salamanca Place in the fifties and a few dozen more that were no less “exotic”, in reputation if not in reality.

With the benefit of hindsight I think that which characterised just about all of these places was that they were mostly dead boring. True, there were differences in skin colour, language spoken, kinds of cigarettes, the trio of musicians in the corner and the variety of dunnies — long drops or short drops, a roll of soft paper or the local newspaper — but the rest was standard. The rough model was Ric’s place in Casablanca, without Bogey. They were generally a bit grotty. If there was a strip show it erred on the saggy side; the smoke haze was sufficient to disguise age, race, contours and occasionally sex; and the booze was mostly so anaemic that it would pass for water in any respectable laboratory — except in Ma Dwyer’s where value for money was assured. Ma said so and one didn’t argue with Ma Dwyer.

My guess is that, assuming it proceeds — and, on the evidence so far advanced, I see no substantive reason why it should not proceed — the night club that is proposed to be adjacent to St. David’s cathedral may well be boringly innocuous rather than a grubby den of iniquity and licentious behaviour, as feared by a few. Time will tell. There will be men there and those men will either be with their partners or looking for company which they may or may not find. There will doubtless also be women there, with their partners or in larger groups, enjoying the music and whatever they choose to eat or drink — and they may even find some male company, for the evening or longer. It is their business and good luck to them.

The lower class tarts

From observation and discussion in the past, I suspect that some of the women who are employed by the management will be university/TAFE students seeking to supplement their modest scholarships with waitressing and bar work while others will include young mothers who need the work to pay the rent and look after a couple of children deserted by a randy drunk of a father who has moved on to hunt and hurt another lonely mother of two or more. Others will be girls on the way up or out of the “entertainment” industry. The high class tarts will be in the cocktail bars of the expensive hotels waiting for a tap on the shoulder from the bored businessman who just flew in from Sydney. The lower class tarts will be in the cheaper pubs or trading in laneways.

As for drunken behaviour, excessive noise, fighting and other anti-social antics I think the pre-publicity, regular police surveillance and some hopefully prudent and skilled “door staff” should serve to ensure that there will be no bonking, boozing or brawling in the cathedral doorways. To this end, a useful initiative would be for representatives of the church and the nightclub entrepreneurs to sit down and reach a civilised accommodation on the matter.

Finally, I think it is quite fair to make the observation that it would ill-become the church leadership to become unduly precious over this matter. The church will become credible on matters of social behaviour only when it can assure us that it has its own house entirely in order in relation to such matters. I doubt that such an assurance is imminent.

Nick Evers

My guess is that, assuming it proceeds — and, on the evidence so far advanced, I see no substantive reason why it should not proceed — the night club that is proposed to be adjacent to St. David’s cathedral may well be boringly innocuous rather than a grubby den of iniquity and licentious behaviour, as feared by a few.