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Booze culture: Is this the Kiwi dream?

NICK RYAN
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2012
Courtenay place
Fairfax NZ
BOOZEY NIGHT: Is this the Kiwi dream?

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The foul stench of stale liquor and cigarettes lingers on the footpath. Bouncers regulate the flow of patrons. Two sober men are sent packing. A gaggle of stumbling blondes breezes through. Lights flash and music thumps. Screams, yells and profanities perforate our ears. What the hell is happening here?

A young man in a business shirt, top button undone, bumps deliberately in to my shoulder and stares at me, his eyes full of hatred. I stare back, my eyes are a mix of disbelief and confusion. He must be having a rubbish night.

I hear a group of guys planning their next move: "Yeah bro, ok, our first plan is to get drunk....second..." he forgets what he was going to say and ducks down an alleyway to relieve himself. His friends move on without him. We stand around for what seems like an age trying to decide which den of sin to enter first. We decide on the most disgusting one. We want our money's worth tonight.

As soon as we enter we all realise we've made a mistake. In front of us a diabolical scene plays out. The place is completely packed with well-dressed people behaving like animals. They stumble around the bar. A young guy comes past with two shots in his hand. He's very pleased with himself. The dance pit is in full effect, a platoon of women dance to the latest club banger. The song sounds the same as all the rest. The girls are all wearing the same dress. Guys with their shirts open rub up behind anyone who'll give them even the slightest hint of interest.

At the bar is a line of swaying people, some old, most young. They yell their orders at the rigid bar staff, they jostle for position. It's first in, last served. Unless you flash your gold card which brings the staff running. I can understand this sort of thing would appeal to those under the age of 25. The two 50-year-old men in the corner, however, have some explaining to do.

I'm told to take my hat off for the third time. I dont know why. This is hardly a classy establishment. There's a guy over there with a singlet and a gold chain. Jersey's Shore has washed up on ours.

We decide to leave.

Out on the footpath the madness swirls around us. We've had a few, but we're far too sober for Wellington's Courtenay Place.

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On our way home we pass a girl, alone, throwing up in the gutter. We ask if she's ok. She groans and throws up again. Walkwise to the rescue. Ambulance crews stand by. They've seen all this before. It doesn't phase them anymore.

Two groups are squaring off outside the TAB. The police show up and disperse them. You can smell the testosterone in the air. Both sides think they won, though what they've won is anyone's guess. A young guy is carrying home an even younger girl. She can't stand, her high heels are proving far too difficult to manage. She takes them off and stumbles on. What a trooper.

We've long since decided that if this is the Kiwi dream, we'd rather stay awake. On the other hand, maybe we just don't get it?


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