The Club

The Club

Most clubs are now gambling dens. Forget Raffles of Singapore or the Kurhaus of the Dutch Scheveningen, they played Baccarat and Écarté then.
Mischa Elman en Wladimir Horowitz, Richard Tauber, Lucienne Boyer, Greta Keller, Marie Dubas, Maurice Chevalier, Herbertvon Karajan, La Argentina, Duke Ellington, Ray Ventura,
Bela Bartok,Edith Piaf, Charles Trenet, George Brassens, Maria Callas, Marlène Dietrich with last but not least the Rolling Stones, are some that performed in The Kurhaus till about 1965.

Clubs are all populated by spinning wheels and flashing lights now and we play the poker-machine. Participants sit grim faced behind those flashing electronic machines. They feed money in them as if there is no tomorrow. For many there is no tomorrow. The tomorrow has been fed into the machines. The plastic shopping bag with food is all that some of them will (hopefully) come home with.

Lately clubs are advertising that they, more than anyone else, are encouraging ‘problem gamblers’ to seek counseling. What the clubs are less enthusiastic about is minimizing the number of poker machines and/or limit players money withdrawals from their ATM’s…Poker machines are worth their weight in gold and pubs and clubs know it.

Anyway, it was on a stormy day. The temperature was 8c and the day loomed long and overcast. We decided to visit a local ‘workers’ club.

Click to access sub197.pdf

The origins of Australian Workers Clubs seem to have got lost in the bowels of history. I can’t find much in that area on the internet. It is interesting that in one of the largest, The Revesby Workers Club they have a large insignia at the front of it depicting a crossed plumber’s wrench and hammer. This seems to hint at a communist influence in earlier days. One can just imagine the board of directors compromising after a heated debate to allow a hammer and sickle design. They replaced the sickle with a very large plumber’s wrench, Ha, ha.

The general advertised aim of clubs is to provide good amenities for families to meet and spend enjoyable social times together. The clubs are non-profit where all income (from gambling) is ploughed back in many areas for the welfare of communities. Sports, leisure, care for the aged are just a few social items that most clubs are involved with.

We arrive and after entering were met by a very nice warm blast of air conditioning. At the desk we complied with a very odd and much questioned ritual of filling in a form requesting our full name, address and driver’s license. We are not a member of the club but even so are always very welcome as long as we comply with this ritual. Whenever we ask; why this strange procedure?

Answers vary depending on the level of club expertise, ranging from ‘getting a win on the pokies and not paying taxation’ or; most common, ‘well, that is the law!’ Some vaguely mention liquor laws and the distance of the venue and the non-members home. Others mention that the law allowing people to drink a beer on Sunday (after church) was only passed (1962) if clubs would comply with this compulsory form filling by non-members. This, as so many other typical Anglo oddities remains a mysterious puzzle for us pragmatic Europhiles.

The Workers clubs in Australia are very popular with well designed pleasant architecture combining nice affordable food with range of beverages of coffees, wines and everything in between. The services are excellent and the gambling part well away from the family or diners. There are open fires, comfortable seating with lounges and soft furnishings. I could easily spend my days there, reading up, sipping a short black and observe its clientele, including the non-members. When we were there many just enjoyed the warmth away from the hostile bitter cold blasts swirling the tree branches around outside.

I had a lovely rump steak (rare) with a vegetable mix of cream sautéed potatoes, beet root, baked pumpkin with fresh coriander. With this steak& chips came a real silver boat of pepper sauce, my favourite! My lovely H decided on a Beef burger which was so huge, she took half of it home and even then it needed several tissues to wrap it up. Milo looked hopefully up to H when the other half was eaten in the evening. No luck though. He had just been given his chicken neck. This is Milo’s favourite as well.

So, in summing up; clubs do provide enjoyable venues and do much good in the communities, but… all on the back of those gaming machines which causes immense miseries for many.

Would a higher taxation on all income be a better option, still have clubs but without all those poker machines?
It is all so difficult.

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9 Responses to “The Club”

  1. roughseasinthemed Says:

    We used to go to a couple of Leagues Clubs. Mostly I went to the one at Bondi (Junction) which had an ace swimming pool. I think we got in for free just by showing our Brit passports. No idea why that was.

    We had a mate who was addicted to the pokies. His wife banned him from playing them. He still did of course.

    We know a few people who do it here too. One puts in £100 a time regularly. My partner was asked to join in a group ie put a few quid in and then you get more goes obviously. Anyway, it paid out. So they all decided to have another go – except Partner, who carefully brought his winnings home 🙂 I think the others ended up putting their winnings back in the machine.

    Here in Gib we have on-line gambling sanitised to the extent it is called ‘gaming’. To me, putting money on something and betting is gambling. Sadly it’s a big industry.

    Never been something I’ve done, unless you count a game of dominoes where the stakes were the loser bought the next round. I won.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, the call of the ‘shoo shoo’ gravy train is enough for many addicts to chuck in even more. I played fifty years ago or more after an invitation to buy an airless spray-paint-gun. The venue was a club. After seeing a movie about the delights of making money from this American-made airless spraying-gun we went to play on a poker machine. I won about 13 dollars Australian. I was over the moon and kept playing and lost the lot. Never played pokies since.
      I did buy this airless gun and it did make some money. Not a lot but enough.
      How’s your ankle? You been to the holy grail of a Bondi Club? Did you wear a mini or was it later and shoulder pads were in vogue? I used to wear a safari suit. (purple with flared pants and gold buckle)


      • roughseasinthemed Says:

        Ankle much of a muchness thanks. I’m psyching myself up to leaving the flat and venturing down the stairs tomorrow.

        It was ’85, no idea what was in vogue, but I certainly wasn’t. Would have been a skirt (not mini) or trousers – definitely not flared, purple or gold buckles though.

        I think the other club we went to might have been in the depths of Redfern …. I’ll have to ask Partner, he took me there on a date because it was cheap.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      A couple of Leagues clubs? Is there an army or soldier around?

      Forget about doing the Lambada for a while roughseas. Going down the stairs tomorrow? Have you got crutches?

      Anyway I hope being a vegetarian doesn’t exclude fish. You know that fresh sardines, butterfly and dipped in flour before grilling them above charcoal does wonders for sprained ankles. You do have fresh sardines don’t you? Gibraltar is the sardine capital.

      Tell me. What was the occasion for Bondi and Australia? I am curious.


      • roughseasinthemed Says:

        No army or soldier. They were all virtually open access back then and as you say, a good place to eat, although my main interest was the Bondi J pool.

        No crutches. I hobble well. Had a lot of practice in my rather more sporting youth.

        Being a vegetarian does exclude fish. I have written about it 😀 You knew that was coming. If you read the post, it will save me rambling further on here.

        So I have no idea whether or not we have fresh sardines although my neighbours in Spain do. They usually only eat one each. Have to say if I was eating fish that would not be enough.

        Australia? World trip. Europe, Asia and Australia. Lived in hostel in King’s Cross (from where I went to Bondi J RSL), but got distracted from world trip (idea to go back via USA) due to sexy Welshman whom I promptly married. I’ve probably written about that too. Somewhere.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      No, I hadn’t read your post on dietary habits. I am not a vegetarian, probably dates back to Rotterdam and the war when I nearly carked it for lack of food. Even so, I do stand up for chooks and am happy to say my blog on their plight has had more reads than I have had rump steaks or char- grilled sardines.
      Geez, the Spains only eat one sardine! Hard times, I see.
      I married a Finn (woman) who loves lentils. 😉
      Hope this helps.


  2. Lottie Nevin Says:

    Irishman and I were most fortunate to have a something called the ‘Catholic club’ down the end of our street in London. It was where he took me on our first date and he told me later that if I hadn’t said that I’d liked it, he probably wouldn’t have asked me out again. Horrible man!

    Our club does have a few machines and you can buy lottery tickets there but the main pull is the fine company and a sense of community. Sadly they don’t do food unless you count peanuts and potato crisps from Ireland called Tato’s. They do however have expertly poured Guinness on hand and a lively Irish band that play on a Saturday night. As soon as it starts up it’s playing, all the geriatrics pour onto the dance floor. Zimmer frames and walking sticks are abandoned and off they go! I swear that they dance so hard and so fast that the talcum powder falls out of their knickers and onto the dance floor. By the end of the evening it looks like someone has spilt a bag of flour everywhere!

    When we got married we held our wedding reception there and a very jolly time was had by all.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      That’s one of the funniest replies I had for a long time. Talcum powder on the floor like pancakes on heat looking for golden syrup.
      I am in awe of Irishman. Tell him I like any club where they accept people with talcum powder in underpants. Do they check you out before allowing inside?
      I only use it under arms. You have opened a whole new world of matrimonial delights. I am going downstairs now and sprinkle some around our bed-socks and face masks.


  3. Nick Ryan Says:

    Are we absolutely sure it is talcum powder? It would make absolute sense to “powder up” before hitting the dance floors however It could well be some form of preservation dust.


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