IN FOCUS: Front / Old Mate Bars

If you find yourself in the front bar you’re probably either a well-seasoned old mate, a tradie or lost. These sanctuaries typically shy away from interior decorating and focus on building a gritty atmosphere that is free from excessive consumption shaming.

In fact, some still have the sweet stank of stale beer and inside dart smoking from yesteryear. That’s the kind of commitment to preserving an unimpressive past that you just don’t see in many places.

Sadly, the cruel tides of gentrification are slowly eroding the natural habitat of the old mate – bar stools. Perth pubs in particular have been unable to resist the de-stoolification of bars in favour of creating an open, family-friendly environment.

As a consequence, thousands of old mates are forced to shuffle over 1m to get to the bar each round as they sit amongst the general population of the bar. This breeds resentment and the bartender will hear about it every single round.

However, front bars that are true to their roots will still have the wooden thrones for their weathered-kings and also will be keeping the skimpy tradition alive. An important micro-economy within the bar scene.

It’s simple, money won on a punt is pumped back into the system via tips to the girls. Which in turn, gives old mates a euphoric rush which keeps them punting – to win more money for more tips and thus more bar stiffies.

If they really hit it big on a punt then a feed might be in order. However, rarely will this occur at the expense of more middies of Swan. Again, many taverns have yielded to the masses and have created menus that scare average cobs.

How can ol keithy possibly order from a menu that has 2 types of salads on it? What the fark is a quesadilla? Where is the mixed grill? Since when did a pub feed cost more than a tenner? These are questions that your average bar fly just isn’t ready to deal with.

As for the general population, it’s made up of tradies getting smashed after work, furious punters losing on the gee-gees and over the top oneupsmen spraying it as well as saying it. Plot twist – if these groups were in a Venn diagram it would be a complete circle.

Between 3-5 is truly the domain of the blue-collar warrior who believes a cheeky 7 pint, 15 dart sesh is the cure for what ails them.

It’s a beautiful time before dress codes are enforced where one can get drunk enough to scream out (wrong) answers to The Chase back at home before passing out and waking up still dressed for work.

Thus completing the circle of front bar life.

Documenting the Human Zoo is thirsty work, so if you enjoyed what you read how about buying Belle a beer, ay?