Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Look wot they dun to my street ma

We visited Acland Street St Kilda, for reasons I can't recall.

Keep calm and drink coffee. I do. I do. Vote early and often and drink coffee early and often. This place is almost down to Barkly Street in the entrance to the Coles arcade and makes very nice and slightly unusual sausage rolls.

Greasy Joe's is not quite the same anymore. In fact as we knew it, it has gone. A place of the same name is a couple of doors along. I had not been to Acland Street since the time we met up with two blog mates Ann O'Dyne and Pants, and we refreshed ourselves at Dog's Bar, just a little up the Acland Street hill.

What happened to Deverolis? Gone, no doubt to be smart apartments.

Today I was looking at old photos of the marvellous Crystal Ballroom at The George Hotel. It is disused at the moment. Later I looked at photos of the more gorgeous Gershwin Room at The Esplanade Hotel. Both The Gershwin Room and Crystal Ballroom were important music venues in the seventies and eighties, with the Ballroom more focused on punk music. Should I go out and steal a couple of photos to show you? Ok, you have convinced me.

This is the Espy Gershwin Room. No, I haven't ever been.

Nor have I have been to the Crystal Ballroom at The George. It might be too late. It is up for lease. Oh if its walls could talk......that is if the walls could hear anything over the music.


  1. Acland Street St Kilda was our very first bit of European life style, particularly after central and eastern European migrants starting arriving in the 1950s and early 1960s. Small scale, inelegant and squishy, but really great food, coffee and social life.

    You are right; it is a bit tragic now. Do you think any other single area has replaced Acland St?

  2. The Gershwin Room looks warm and inviting, while the Crystal Ballroom looks cold and forbidding.
    That first photo of a cafe loos like it would be an interesting place.

  3. I think we have forgotten how to make new public buildings beautiful - its all so stark and functional these days - I like the flourishes and whimsy created for no practical reason but that they are beautiful

  4. the thing about any place that has charm is that people are drawn to it, and then business needs to exploit those people's spending power, and then the charming stuff is found to be not big/new enough to extract maximum dollars.
    the reason why punks were able to over-run the george is that it was all run down at the time.
    I spent 4 hours up a ladder washing the chandelier there in 1979 - what was I thinking? I still have some crystals which came off. The room has impressive stained glass windows of st.George and the dragon btw. and a sprung dance floor.
    The Gershwin room at the espy was dirty and had sticky carpet last time I went there (pre RockWiz trendiness).
    there was a lovely St.Kilda page at FcBook that suddenly closed down so I will have to find again, the photos of the trees and tea garden that was right on Acland St before 1920. where BigMouth is now, beautiful Oakwood Tea Gardens where you climbed a ladder into the TREES for your teas. no kidding.

  5. Hels, the street does have a marvellous history. It was probably irreplaceable but I did make me think how Carlisle Street compares. I don't think it is in the running. When we lived there from about 1993 on, we couldn't even get a decent cup of coffee. Now coffee oozes from the street. It has also now lost some of its Jewish feel. Perhaps they now shop in Glenferrie Road. It is an interesting street though. We tired of the 'interesting people' after a while.

    River, I suppose the difference is one is still used and has been renovated and the other hasn't been. The cafe was a place I was a bit cautious about at first, but I like it now.

    With you there MC. Beautiful things that are optional. The options are now left out.

    Em Stacks, I am so pleased you commented. Yes, I remember how bad the George, then the Seaview was. The Prince had some run down areas too, where, was it PBS? the radio station broadcast from. The FB group is alive and well.

  6. Em Stacks, there is another FB group, I got drunk at the Crystal Ballroom.

  7. "Anon"1:25 pm

    I've noticed you can track social change by focusing on a building like The George, going from being respectable to being a blood house. Its main competitors for roughest pub in Melbourne then were the Rob Roy and The Champion, both in Fitxroy.

    But have a look now, all three: wine, refinement, not an abo in sight.

  8. I remember the Rob Roy. I wouldn't dare enter it. I assume you are using that term for aborigines in a ironical or satirical sense, so I'll let it stand.

  9. Anonymous2:57 pm

    How can you not include at least one shot of a cake shop window in Acland St????? Please don't tell me they've gone as well.

    I remember walking along Fitzroy St as I child in the '70s and seeing all the street walkers openly plying their trade. It was quite educational! V.

  10. V, I am generally not fond of the cakes from those shops. I think there are two left, maybe three. Did you ask your Mum or Dad if you were going to grow up to be pretty like those girls in Fitzroy Street? The girls mostly work in and near Carlisle Street between Barkly Street and Brighton Road now.

  11. Hello Andrew:
    Change and decay in all around we see...!! Oh dear, oh dear. The interior of The George looks magnificent and should, surely, be saved.

  12. Being lured to Melbourne three times in my life, I still struggle(d) to see what the huge appeal of St Kilda was - certainly wasn't the actual beach, that's for sure.

    And you're right about the cakes. They looked good but tasted terrible!

  13. "Anon"5:42 pm

    Pardon me. I'm not one to tread on sensitivites, but they do get in the way of familiarity. Or is it just class difference? I think so; no aborigine ever objected to me calling him an abo.
    The Rob Roy and The Champion were on corners, diagonally opposite each other. The Champion was popular with aborigines. The George has a few as well. The bar in The George had a four inch piece of skirting that could be pulled out and put back again. The cavity was where the local drug dealer who hung about in the bar all day kept his sticks. How's that. Good old George. R.I.P.

  14. Mmm Greasy Joes was great back in the day, I haven't been in years.
    Everything is becoming gentrified, it's very sad to see.

  15. JayLa, most of the hotel is in good condition as it was converted to apartments. I am not sure why the ballroom was left alone, so we should be grateful it is still there.

    Kath, I suppose its attraction is people. People being with people. You would recall how Prince Charles describe St Kilda Beach?

    Fen, and with gentrification come cars, all trying to claim a piece of turf.