Louise Avery - Bar Flies


As familiar and worn as a St Kilda 70’s apartment, this man walked past me and said Hello again. He always was one of the identities that I knew and loved in the heyday of drinking and random connections that became a crew of people who drank too much and moved from the Prince to Sunset to the Greyhound. Drinking, crying, yelling, dancing, singing and shouting. It was a series of random nights and diluted memories. I knew him from various band incarnations that played around St Kilda and had a little crush at the time. But like all crushes, I moved on. I married, I built a life and a career – he kept walking by with his guitar.


The random moments were becoming more frequent lately. As I was out walking my dog, he walked a well-worn path from bar to home. He had lost a few teeth and was a lot more frayed around the edges with grey hair. But the heart that kept the music alive was still there. He has had no other life, struggling with his demons, he could only offer the world his charm and his magic with the guitar.


When people talk about making St Kilda great again with live music they weren’t there in the first place because music still lives in the heart of the characters that have lived and created here for decades. They just shuffle along a bit more quietly still carrying their art on their backs and playing in bars any chance they get.


So, my friend asked what I was up to. I said that as I was now divorced and was heading out on a date. He laughed and asked how I met this man. “On an app” I replied. He then reflected on the last date he went on, which is the same story he told me 5 years ago. We laughed at misadventures of the past and said good night.


A few months later I went to a bar. The place was packed with couples squeezing a dance, arm in arm around a piano, knee-deep conversations leaning into the bar. Some old faces showed the years of hedonism, recanted stories twisted and embellished by the alcohol. And there I found him playing again…As I squeezed past on the way back from the bar he yelled. “Hey don’t go on an app to have a date, come have a dinner with me”. 30 years ago, I might have.