The Critic 2012 Bar Safety Review

The Critic 2012 Bar Safety Review

Each year Critic takes it upon itself to review the bars and night spots of North Dunedin to make sure that they are taking proper care of you. We didn’t want to of course, we’d rather just stay in and watch Mad Men episodes on endless repeat, but we stoically headed off to some of Dunedin’s greatest bars to assess how, ah, safe they are …

Critic Office: Pre drinks

You can’t just wantonly head off to town stone-cold sober and expect to have a good time. Adequate and appropriate pre-gaming is key to, a) having a good time in town and, b) not spending an entire week’s Studylink coin. The trick, of course, is to just be having a good time but not to be stumble-drunk, or your town plans will be up to fucks and no bouncer will be letting you in anywhere. Critic went with beer and wine as the appropriate pre-town drink, though geriatric editor Joe Stockman went with a white wine spritzer (white wine with sprite zero to be exact). Lol. After a bit of banter and just enough drinks Critic pulled the plug, locked Howie in the office, and headed off to the Cook.

The Captain Cook Tavern

Jesus the Cook has been around a while. And as the last remaining truly Scarfie pub in North Dunedin, it has a lot of responsibility resting on its shoulders. Everyone (except of course old man Stockman) got ID’d, so good work there Cook. And when we went to order four jugs of Tui they insisted that we point out the group that was sharing them, lest one of us sat and drank four jugs alone. Critic set about drinking the jugs while politics reporter Callum and volunteer Loulou investigated the state of the bathrooms. Though happy with the accurate and unconfusing signage (“Boys” for boys and “Girls” for girls), there were concerns that both possess a less-than-faint odour of urine, and that as it was still pretty early it was probably only going to get worse.

The Cook is nice enough. It’s a solid student pub, with cheap feeds; and after having to shut down for 24 hours a few years ago after getting one too many law students maggot, they seem to have upped their game in the responsible drinking stakes. They even have art on the wall! And Critic feels that there is nothing quite like having the majestic Captain James staring down at you while you’re getting your grind on. Sadly, the Cook was hardly pumping. Poor organisation on Stockman’s part had seen Critic head out on the Friday night before St Patrick’s day. Leaving the Cook to its own devices, we set off down the road to that essential first year experience, Monkey.

The Monkey Bar

According to local legend, Monkey was once a church. However, given that its exterior closely resembles that of a church this may be less “legend” than “obvious logical inference”. Considering the number of unholy things that go on in there on a daily basis, it’s perhaps safe to say that its Christian days are long gone. And despite the inherent lack of safety in dancing around a bit with high set pews, the bouncers were at least very safety-conscious, and even pensioner Stockman got asked for ID this time (though the bouncer struggled somewhat with ’84, how old does that even make you?).

Once inside the nice, if utterly undertrained bar staff made up a round of quick fucks and Critic was off to the dance floor. And lo and behold it wasn’t more than two minutes before Skrillex dropped and the Critic interns were busting out more moves than Sonny Bill. However, a polished wood dance floor with a spilt drink is a recipe for disaster, and more than a few of us found ourselves face down on the dance floor. Sports reporter Gus Gawn demonstrated the extent of his Monkey experience, and was up and away dancing on the pews, wildly swinging his legs in some sort of pendulum motion, possibly to stop his gigantic head from becoming unbalanced. “Enough of this foolishness,” bellowed the boss man. “We’re off to a real fucking bar.”

Vivace Karaoke Lounge Bar

As Critic walked into Vivace, five lovely ladies from south of the motorway turn-off were crooning away to their flat-noted content. It seemed that Stockman didn’t even have to put his chit in before Sunni (the karaoke aficionado that runs this fine establishment) had the old man’s favourite song up on the screens; and before we knew it Stockman was away, screeching his failing heart out to Piano Man. Jesus save us all. Sunni later told us that “Oh yes, he come regular. Every Tuesday night he here by 5pm. Usually all alone. Very sad. Very funny for us though.”

You couldn’t help but feel safe in Vivace. It has a lovely relaxed atmosphere, and moderately priced sake. However, one could rapidly become physically ill depending on who has the microphone in their hands. Critic wrapped up a few quick numbers, knocked back some sake shots, and headed down the road to get our boogie on.

Fever Club

Critic had never been to Fever Club before, but had heard rumours around the Union food court that it was the place to be for a cheap boogie. The rumours got the cheap bit right at least. Everything about Fever club is bizarre. The house lights are still on, throwing into sharp relief the look of “fuck my life, what the fuck am I doing here serving booze to 18-years-olds” on the 65-year-old bartender’s face. The music is ambient at best, and sometimes difficult to hear over the noise of our conversation. Even the dance floor, an attempt at a ’70s light box, is just sad and strangely depressing. There were upsides. Cheap as chips V and Vodka combos picked up the entire Critic ensemble at a strategically important moment, and the coat check (which wasn’t actually open) would at the very least protect your belongings from the South D types that make this kind of place their bread and butter. Critic had had a taste of Fever, and was more than happy to take some paracetamol and move on. Bring on the Octy.

The Southern Break

Critic was a little bit worried heading into the break. We’d heard that it was the haunt of ultimate fighting champion types who tear the heads off crocodiles for shits and giggles. Filled with apprehension we headed inside, only to find the place completely empty. A little bit gutted, we took advantage of the cheap shakers (and a few of us took advantage to the impressively clean toilets for a tactical). Rumours of the impressively violent nature of the Break became more apparent when six police officers wandered in to have a look around. Critic implored the DJ to play NWA’s “Fuck tha Police”, and while the DJ was keen, he couldn’t seem to find it in his playlist. Gutted. After giving it a quick once over (and posing for a photo) the coppers were off, and so was Critic.


Upstairs Metro is so nice. It has all this lovely brickwork, and these little fire cauldron things on the tables out the front – a thoroughly lovely place to spend a quiet evening with some friends. But we all know that Critic wasn’t there for upstairs; Critic was there to get down and dirty (literally in the case of the toilets, what a fucking disaster they are) with downstairs Metro. The dastardly decrepit Stockman ordered a round of tequila shots for the group, and a few cling-ons that had inevitably arrived, and while some retired to the lovely outside area to top up their nicotine levels, the rest of Critic hit the dance floor … and quickly realised that we had brought the only females. Literally. A quick survey confirmed that even the bar staff were all rocking XX. Jokes rang out about sausage festivals, and the awkwardness of 40 straight guys bumping and grinding with nary a female in sight. Metro, you can be cool, but for now it’s time to leave.

Innocent Bystanders

It’s all starting to get a bit hazy now. After a few rounds of shots and mixed drinks at the previous establishments, IBs seemed like the right spot to chill out for a tick with a beer. Maybe it’s just the location (right next to Velvet Burger) but nights often seem to wind up at IBs. The bouncers are pretty generous to let some of us in at all. And it was only after winding our way upstairs that we received a txt from Gus Gawn, which read “We’re u, town? I’m outside of the/ Prob not. Okay bye”. Gawn hasn’t been seen since.
It seemed that IBs were closing before we had even finished our pints. Cranky old Stockman got pretty up in arms, ranting about “not pouring me a fucking handle if you weren’t going to let me drink the bloody thing”. When the bartender tried to hang one on him by asking “What are you doing out anyway; wouldn’t you have missed Coro Street?” Stockman retorted with “Don’t be fucking daft. I MySkyed it.” Oh dear god.

Pop, maybe? Can’t remember. It was probably Pop

The problem with all of these small underground bars is you that you have no external reference points, so you always end up dizzy and disorientated. The music is too loud, but you’re usually to maggot to say anything important or worthwhile anyway. The bartender is looking at you with the disdain reserved for those who are annoying the very sober with the antics of the very drunk. The loud boisterous claims of awesomeness, the slightly unwell look in the eye. Anyway, Pop – overall, very safe. We think. The stumble to the cab rank at the end of the night could be a little bit shorter though.
This article first appeared in Issue 5, 2012.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 25th March 2012 by Staff Reporter.