Monday, November 19, 2012

Chaps and fashion

This is not as the subject line might lead you to think.

I doubt many of my Melbourne readers have not heard of the Chevron Hotel. It was at the corner of St Kilda Road and Commercial Road. Before high rise hotels were built, for a time it was a place to stay for the rich and famous.

In the early days of the 2000s it was ripped apart and turned into apartments. I recall someone telling R that the noise levels from the other apartments was horrendous and the person moved out, solely because of the noise. I think this would be in the original part, not the new additional building.

In the nineties within the Chevron was a nightclub called The Dome, presided over by a drag, Miss Jane. We never attended as we were getting a bit too old for late night clubbing. Not so our electrician at the time, a gay man who was older than myself and was an attendee at the venue and died on the premises. Heart attack? Drugs? Combo of both? Who knows.

In the mid 1970s there was discotheque in the below ground area of the Chevron called Babes. I worked there behind the bar for a couple of nights. It was a great venue for its time, but I could not cope with the noise levels.

By the 1980s a gay bar called Chaps had opened. As bars did back then, it closed at 10pm. I recall it as being a place to sit at tables with friends and have a drink, and that was what we did. Did it have any entertainment? Did it have loud music? Not that I can remember but apparently it did. If you are a local person and female, you simply must have heard of the larger than life frock designer Alannah Hill. Here is a snip from the Facebook group, Lost Gay Melbourne. 

The first time i clapped eyes on Alannah Hill was on the dance floor of Chaps, in a tattered fake flapper dress, fringing all ripped, white spike heels and a pink, or was it green mohawk.

One of my main memories of Chaps was a night when a nice looking but vicous queen called Jodie, who worked for Ansett Airlines, glassed someone in the spacious men's toilets.

Slowly other gay venues opened in Melbourne and Chaps was no more.

Here are a few photos.

 This is mine taken as The Chevron was undergoing conversion to apartments known as Chevron Green.

The finished product.


Some older photos. I think I can see an FX model Holden, so this photo would be post 1948.

A hotel with a swimming pool. Fab!


The Commercial Road entrance, but I am not sure if this was the main entrance. I think the main entrance was, well, I will show you in another photo.


The dining room looks to be a classic, of the period. I like it heaps.

This photo is very old. After passing through the lynch gate, the path seems to lead towards a St Kilda Road entrance. I certainly do not remember the building on the other corner. The empty trailer (dray?) behind the horse seems to be designed to carry lengths of timber and I would suggest that it is a cable tram travelling along St Kilda Road. Melbourne had an extensive system of cable trams, mostly replaced in the early to mid nineteen hundreds by electric trams with route extensions. Sydney went for the steam tram option, with only a couple of cable trams where the hills were too steep for steam trams.

The Chevron Hotel opened in 1934 and I think cable trams in St Kilda Road disappeared soon after. Such an interesting building with so much history, but still stands today.

23 comments:

  1. These are some nice looking bars Andrew. I can't remember the last time I was in a bar that wasn't part of a restaurant but back in the day, "my" bars were no where near this fancy. Far from it most of the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rubye, I think you in the US were inclined to have small bars on the street, whereas our were usually part of a hotel.

      Delete
  2. My family was invited to a lot of celebrations at the Chevron in the 1950s and 1960s eg weddings, engagements, bar mitzvahs. My parents dolled up so nicely..I loved it.

    That entrance with the word Chevron over the lit glass was elegant, wasn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hels, it looks elegant in the photo, but I also remember that entrace as being full of blown in rubbish and quite awful. It must have been quite a special place in your parent's time.

      Delete
  3. Great post HR - old photos are always good, and oh poor Jodie - must have been affected by something she ingested.
    and just LOOK at the skyline of the CBD in that last image.
    I am sure I recall The Chevron it being the accommodation for all the nurses who worked at The Alfred.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ann, yes, the rooms were used as nurses accommodation, at a guess up until about 1990.

      Delete
  4. An interesting history of the Chevron. If only buildings could talk but you did a good job for it. I wasn't an angel by any standards in my youth but I always felt night clubs and bars were sleazy places.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sleazy Diane? Why do you think we went, haha.

      Delete
  5. In the late 80s it also hosted an alternative night called 'Clockwork Orange'. http://anthonymalloy.com/2007/11/12/everything-is-going-wrong-but-were-so-happy/

    I remember a companion of mine got in to a fight with a punk over dancing to 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' and it was a scary walk out of there and back to the car.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. How cool Tony. Now if it was Love Can Keep Us Together, I could understand punk angst.

      Delete
  6. Yep, my cousins who worked at dear old Prince Henry's Hosp used to stay there when doing back to back night shifts or doubles.
    LOVE that last photo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jayne, I assumed it was only for The Alfred nurses, but apparently not. Interesting.

      Delete
  7. Interesting thanks Andrew. Of course we would see the Chevron mentioned in TV credits, but until now had no idea what it looked like.
    The dining room is pretty impressive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. FC, you are triggering a vague memory. It was used on tv, hey.

      Delete
  8. I wonder if any photographic evidence remains of Alannah Hill's outfit, or whether all the negs have been tracked down and destroyed?!?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Red, she comes across as someone who would not ashamed of her past. Are there any AH frocks hanging in the Red wardrobe?

      Delete
  9. I love the look of that lovely old dining room, I bet you wouldn't get waiters there asking "d'ya want fries with that?" Elegance and quiet chatter would be the style there.
    All hotels should have swimming pools.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Motherhood sentences River. Of course I agree.

      Delete
  10. aaah the Chevron! I remember that place, vaguely. What was the night they used to hold there...freakazoid! LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fen, I had forgotten about Freakazoid. Wow. It was a great night out......err, not that we ever went.

      Delete
  11. I know nothing about The Chevron Andrew, but I do know Alannah Hill, well not personally but there are many of her (very expensive) creations hanging in Aimee's (my daughter) wardrobe!! She's a fantastic designer, but personally I wouldn't pay the prices. I can't imagine her with a pink/green mohawk, haha that would be fun to see!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Grace, I had a feeling she was known nationwide and not just in Melbourne. Are you and your daughter similar sizes?

      Delete
  12. We are Andrew so sometimes I get to wear designer without paying da money....sweet!!

    ReplyDelete