I rarely mention the fact that I’m a teetotaller, because it’s never been a popular move. However, considering the topic at hand, it seems relevant to declare this at the outset. While I don’t drink, I do make a habit of frequenting a lot of venues in Melbourne that sell alcohol and provide live entertainment. Being a non drinker, I always make a point of paying for food and drinks at these venues when I can, because I believe in supporting the live music scene I’ve come to love. Unfortunately, however, the way that the current licensing laws are being interpreted is causing a lot of good venues to close their doors. Why? The liquor licenses are going up, sometimes by very large amounts, on venues that are deemed to be “high risk”. Sadly, this includes one of Melbourne’s favourite jazz venues, Manchester Lane (closed temporarily, hopefully) and now legendary Melbourne music venue The Tote has finally called last drinks.
Being a non-drinker, I’ve never been a fan of drinking or violence, but this really has got to stop. The Victorian government is in the process of throwing away a couple of generations of social capital in the form of our precious live music scene. In my experience, the good live music venues are not usually the ones with the worst track record for angry altercations, and I’d really like to see the research that conclusively shows that venues like Manchester Lane need to justify their existence compared to many of the other night clubs around. Ever seen thugs at a jazz venue? Didn’t think so.
If you think it’s gone too far as well, write a letter, call a talk show, or sign a petition. Or maybe even write a blog article about it, like me. But do something, before it’s too late.