By Cameron Hart
Just over a month ago, one of Sydney’s best and brightest stopovers en route to getting #whitegirlwasted on a professional level, Bar Century, permanently closed its doors. Soon after, lil’ BC was lauded as yet another casualty in the NSW government’s inglorious war against alcohol-related violence and fatalities, and its scorn-inducing lockout-laws. The last thing I want is for people to get hurt or die, and this isn’t really about Mike Baird at all (but if you’re reading this, Mike, you fucking suck), but rather, a memoir; a tentative farewell as another iconic Sydney venue follows others who have passed before it, into oblivion; where Hugo’s and The Exchange have gone, and where Cargo Bar is soon to go, too.
In the flotsam and jetsam of good ol’ Aussie social media, news, and journalism, there are hundreds upon hundreds of articles, comments, stories, and anecdotes calling bullshit on this restrictive legislation, and its impact upon Sydney’s international reputation, its nocturnal culture, its music venues, and its small businesses. Yet amidst bemoaning everyone’s inability to buy a $4.99 cleanskin rosé (it’s also 8.3 drinks, guys, how great is that) at 10:03pm, it seems as though everyone’s favourite cesspool of human sweat, cheap alcohol, and the occasional tactical yakker (we salute you, fallen comrade) has fallen by the wayside. Three weeks ago, Bar Century was a Mockingjay-esque fiery symbol of everything that Sydney once had, has now lost, and has yet to lose. Now, however, it seems the famous bar has become little more than old news, a half-forgotten memory; no longer relevant enough to be worthy kindling to fuel the machine of this movement, this progress.
By no means was this review easy to write, mostly because (a) I am particularly fond of reminiscence, (b) the majority of my visits to Bar Century are hazy, at best, likely due to (c) my tendency to lapse into short-term forgetfulness, similar to Dory, the loveable and amnesiac Blue Tang from the Disney classic, Finding Nemo. And just like 42 Wallaby Way, this (absolutely) dank but (undoubtedly) wonderful bar will no longer be a standing sentinel of freedom amongst the tyranny of overpriced drinks and old people desperately clinging to their youth by going clubbing on a Thursday night.
On my final sojourn up its spiral staircase and across its sticky floors, I was struck with a kind of nostalgia. For the tourists who would come back to this corner and hear no dancefloor hum fissuring through the concrete veneer, finding the windows dark, as its absence so obvious it seemingly glows like the neon signage of the surrounding city. In the smaller hours of that last night, I’d seen at least 4 Vertigo editors (a personal best), bought a memorial tee, and boogied down like it was my last night on earth (and in some ways, it was). At last drinks, before we continued onwards to search for danker pastures and greasy burgers, a bar tender asked us if we wanted to do shots from a $60 bottle of coffee-tequila-liqueur. Unsurprisingly, we accepted with mouths agape and eyes that glistened with tears of joy. Upon reaching for our wallets, she said Nah, fuck it. What’re they going to do? Fire me? Then laughed, and just like that, she was gone. Or perhaps the rest of the night evaporated. Or maybe – just maybe – Bar Century has taken the best memories to live on elsewhere, pieces of its sticky, moist spirit clinging to us all like smoke, a thin shadow that follows us to the doorsteps of our other, beloved haunts, come to join the ride on our next wild adventure.
R.I.P. $3 vodka sunrises, we hardly knew ye.