Sunday, February 17, 2008

Prahran Pt 2

Commercial Road in the early eighties was a barren windswept stretch with only the Prahran Market holding it together. Shops were empty and it was desolate. Then something happened. A gay bookshop called The Beat, which was in nearby Greville Street closed and reopened in Commercial Road. Then The Exchange Hotel was renovated and reopened as a gay hotel.

By the the late eighties Commercial Road had become the premium gay area and while Oxford Street in Sydney was referred to as the Gay Mile, our Commercial Rd, somewhat cruelly, was dubbed the Gay Metre. Along with gay bars, bookshops, cafes and restaurants, it was a place with atmosphere. Too much atmosphere at times.

As is often the case, gays started it and straight businesses pick it up. Rents rose, as they did in Oxford Street too, and straight nightclubs opened in the area, again as they did in Oxford Street. Slowly gay businesses closed or moved locations and while there is still a significant gay feel to Commercial Road, it is not what it was.

For us now, it is just our local shops for local people. It is where we get off the tram or bus to go shopping. We never really go to any of the remaining gay cafes. A Greek/Australian cafe in Pran Central or Mojitos are our brunch places of choice.


  1. "For us now, it is just our local shops for local people."

    And anyone who's ever watched 'The League of Gentlmen' will know exactly what that means...

  2. Ah bliss. Every time I slip that phrase into a post someone bites. Sorry Brian.

  3. i love pran, think it's great.

    although it definitely isn't as gay as it was

  4. In January 1971, Greville street was a no account derelict slum alley. The rents were $20 per week and hippies gravitated to it, friends opened a bakery there, The Station Hotel was a dive for ex-crims .... and now ...

    just sayin to make you feel better.
    mwah mwah

  5. hmm..ok :)


  6. Thought you were more a north side person Kiki.

    Bit before my memory Ann, but it certainly did not have expensive shops in my first memory.

    Keshi, Oxford St used to be pretty good, but I don't think it is so safe now.

  7. oh, i'm richmond / brunswick through and through
    but i have spent a lot of time down there

    i worked at boutique, on greville, for ages and i also worked (kinda still working) for a media company there too

    i love all of it
    except chapel
    i really don't like chapel...

  8. I like Greville Street now, especially since the police shifted from that big grey building on the corner. The court house was just up the side street a bit, in the same building I think, ground floor. And oh boy, did some poor Prahran boys get sent down the river from there!- by rosy-cheeked magistrates with accompanying JP bastards, one on each side. Those swine were my first experience of how the law protects the rich and that's all.

    Never forgiven.

  9. We were convicted of crimes like vagrancy which are hardly even crimes anymore, and were never legally represented so we were goners for sure, I remember pleading guilty to some ridiculous thing then proceeding to defend myself which afforded his worship bastard some mild amusement, "Well you've pleaded guilty..." he said, then slapped on some enormous fine.