in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday Night Rage (and a nice cup of tea)

Recently, a friend of mine ended up getting filmed for Channel 7’s shiteful, xenophobic, ratings-winner Border Security. But not ‘cos they’re one of the ‘heroes’ (read: patronising rednecks) who ‘star’ in the show; nor ‘cos they were a sprung mule or some unfortunate gentleman with the wrong eyes or a false bottom (in his suitcase). Nope, they got filmed because it’s a ‘condition of entry’ – just like it is for you, me, and everyone else. Is this a waiver that anyone ever signed? Or could sign? And how could you, I, or anyone else effectively refuse? You want in, you gotta submit.

At the airport, passengers submit to a suspension of their civil rights and a level of intrusive surveillance the likes of which exist in few other places on earth – you’d be amazed what ‘they’ are allowed to do to you. But hey, it’s all ‘necessary’ for ‘our security’, right? And as any conservative will tell you, ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear…’ Because, of course, the a) system is infallible, and b) the staff administering the system are perfectly well-trained, incorruptible, and would never in a million years do anything arbitrary because they were morons on a power trip… But what about a place where the kind of ‘national security’ argument which justifies such conditions does not and should not apply? A place where people don’t have to pass through, but in fact, choose (and pay) to enter in order to forget about their worries, let go, and relax?

Yep, I’m talking about Nightclubs, lad(d)ies. In your average Melbourne nightclub, not only are you under constant surveillance (which I guess most of you knew or assumed), but the place where you think you’ve gone to ‘cut loose’ is actually one of the most repressive places you could visit in our fine city, a place where you appear to have no rights, where you are vulnerable to arbitrary treatment and the possibility of physical violence at any moment…

I’m not talking about being busted in the bogs doing lines or anything like that. That does happen, and while it’s proof that the toilets in a lot of larger places are on CCTV (smile), it’s tough to make an argument against it when you’ve been busted doing something illegal. ‘Bang bang bang, come on, get out!’ Okay, fair enough. Even if you are in a place where Melbourne’s finest reputedly hoover buckets and buckets of the gak out back (with the owners, natch), you haven’t got a powdery leg to stand on. The owners are guarding their arses, and you’re endangering their licence. Fair cop/sniff. But what if people try to chuck out of a club, not for doing something illegal, violent or anti-social, but just for minding your own business? Well, that’s precisely what happened to me on Friday night. Twice.

The first time it happened, I was sitting on a couch in the back room, nursing a beer and recovering from the all-out assault of the main floor. The conversation my friend and I were having lapsed, and so we were both just sitting there sipping. I think I was nodding my head in time with the music. Next thing I know, two bouncers are standing by me. One of them beckons me over. ‘What?’ I ask, staying seated. The guy beckons me like he’s calling a pet to heel. I stand up as he walks up looking ticked off, then I ask the guy, ‘What’s up? What do you want?’
‘You have to come with me.’
‘Just come with me.’
‘Why? What have I done? Come where?’
And so on, with no explanation offered, round and round, until my friend intervened and we managed to convince him… of what exactly? This was the weirdest thing of all –I was doing nothing but minding my own business, and some bouncer (because he was bored, or a moron, or needed glasses) thought I’d passed out, or just decided to hassle me, or something… who knows? The scary thing is, I don’t, and the thug didn’t even feel the need to explain what I’d apparently ‘done wrong’. Anyway, I didn’t get kicked out, but only just, and it talk three minutes worth of soothing pleading. But what would have happened if I had questioned assertively, or resisted? And who would I call if I’d been headlocked, beaten up, or worse? Fact is, if you’re ‘having fun’ in one of our city’s nightclubs, you’re not only totally at the mercy of these arseholes, you’re paying top dollar for the privilege.

Three hours later, and my luck had worsened markedly. Different venue, but more or less the same scenario, with two differences. In this case, my friend had gone to the toilet. It was very late/early, and we were just about to leave, so I took a seat close by the bogs. Now, I may have closed my eyes for a moment, but no more than that. As far as I was concerned, I was awake, self-aware, and minding my own business. This time the formalities had been dispensed with.
‘Out! Out buddy! You’re out!’
It was the same penis who was being a complete arsehole about moving people in and out of the smoker’s corral an hour or so earlier. I realised at this late juncture that it was pointless arguing, and I was just about to leave anyway, so I said, ‘Yeah, I’m just leaving, but I’m waiting for my friend who’s in the toilet, would you mind – he’ll just be a second.’
‘No, you can’t – I don’t give a fuck, you can wait for him outside.’ And I was promptly escorted from the premises by penis & sidekick, both of whom seemed more than willing to give me a quick demonstration of their brutality if I resisted.

What the fuck is wrong with the nightclubs in this city, the staff they’re hiring, and the security policy they’re pursuing? I for one resent paying my hard-earned money to go to a place where I’m treated with contempt, patronised, bullied and threatened with violence, and this, moreover, appears to have become the unfortunate norm in most of the more popular venues. The normalisation of this state of affairs has created an environment where, just like the immigration queue at the airport, all clubgoers are desperately trying to ‘BE NORMAL,’ on pain of expulsion and assault. All that has to happen is that one thug doesn’t like the look of you, and you’re out, or worse… Who would voluntarily put up with this state of affairs? Fuck Saturday Night Fever, you can keep it. The way things are going, Saturday night Rage (and a nice cup of tea) has never seemed like a better idea.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice pic. Last Saturday at 2am when driving home from the studio I decided to drive down Johnston st. to Nicholson rather than turning right at Punt Rd. Boy, was that a mistake! It was all I could do to dodge the hordes of drunken zombies with taxi lust wandering into the path of my oncoming car. Also, I had to suddenly veer into the other lane to avoid a three way kerbside punch-on that spilled onto the road. Saturday night is a meat-head's game. Non-meathead's beware: You will be treated like one wherever you go. aL.

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