Help! My Local Has Been Hipsterised!

2 Oct

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Re-posted from | by Tori Shepherd

The traditional Australian front bar is under threat as Melbourne-style “hipsterfication” spreads to the other capital cities and beyond.

Cultural observers, pub patrons and hospital industry insiders say a changing market is forcing old school schnitzel-and-schooner front bars to be replaced by speakeasy dens and themed small bars. Dart boards and beer signs are being rapidly replaced by vintage kitsch posters and smartphone apps are turning underground establishments into mainstream drinking holes.

Writer and filmmaker Sam Egan is an expert on hipster culture. He says there’s a “mass cultural shift which hipsters are part of and have also propelled”.

“The hipsterfication of pubs is a huge thing, incredibly visible in Sydney, but I think it’s also part of hipster culture, which is a global urban movement that you’ll find all around the world,” he said.

“Legislation allowed the beginnings of small bars, which took off here in about 2008, following on the model of Melbourne which has the thriving laneway culture.

“It’s particularly themed spaces… the speakeasy bars like (the country and western cliché) Shady Pines and (gritty beatnik bar) Ching-a-lings.”

It’s not limited to Melbourne or Sydney, either. Bars all over Australia are becoming niche hipster-establishments with what Mr Egan calls a “junk-tique vibe”. They’re offering cider tastings and ridiculously large whisky lists, they’re carefully installing exposed beams and visible plumbing, or forcing staff to dress in vintage tennis outfits.

Or they’re just pretending that their grunginess is intentional.

Scott Leach runs Erskineville’s Rose of Australia, an art deco boozer rather than hipster hangout. He’s the AHA (NSW) President and a third generation pub owner. He said Australia’s pub culture is evolving to cater to more diversity.

“If you went back 40 years, the only thing you got from a hotel was a pie, a fight on a Friday, a screaming jukebox and a pool table,” he said.

“That’s what the community expected.”

He said pubs were hit hard in recent years by the smoking ban and the GFC, and that forced new thinking in the industry. Smart entrepreneurs used the opportunity to kickstart a new movement that gives people a bigger experience than just a drinking hole.

“We’re taking a journey in terms of the physical offering and the services we provide,” he said, adding he was very optimistic about the future of pubs.

Marketing management consultant Ken Miller, who has a particular interest in tourism and hospitality, said bar owners are looking for anything that will give them a point of difference, a competitive edge.

“I don’t think we really are prepared anymore to go back to just seeing a bunch of old drunks sitting on stools,” he said.

So what’s next? Mr Leach said it was an evolution, not a final solution…. [Read More]




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