Friday, January 15, 2010

The End Of An Era

I guess you've all heard the sad news that The Tote in Collingwood is closing this weekend. It's dodged a few bullets of late but this time, nothing can save it. Bruce Milne,owner of the Tote simply can't afford the money it's going to take to pay for the license and going back and forth to VCAT is not an option for him.

Some can argue that it's a stinky,ramshakle,sticky carpet pub and they would be right. The fact is, we need that stinky,ramshakle sticky carpet pub because it's so much more to people than just bricks and mortar. To many of us, it was a musical sanctuary where like minded people joined together to hear the same bands and drink a few beers. For those in bands, many of them got their start there. It was more than a pub, it was part of the community there. I can honestly say in all my years of going there, I have never seen a fight or even a shouting match. People of all walks of life went there. Even children and babies went there with their parents for the famous Wu B Que and various other barbeques held in the truly authentic beer garden. There was the tiki element of The Cobra Bar upstairs, where bands squeezed into that tiny alcove and hammered out a set despite the atrocious acoustics.

When those doors close, a million memories will be stored there. For me, it was the early nineties supporting bands like The Underground Lovers,The Fauves,The Glory Box,Autohaze,Rob Clarkson,Tlot Tlot and their ilk. Loading up the jukebox with coins and programming all our favorites songs - it was truly the best jukebox in Melbourne. Walking into the place and crawling out after too much to drink. Sitting on the toilet upstairs to find yourself shaking because of a death metal band playing downstairs.  Being with friends and connecting with the music and the moonshine.

The Tote closing is not just closing a venue. It's so much more. The funeral is this weekend. I'll be heading down for a few drinks to bid the old girl farewell.

Vale Tote. You'll be missed.


dam buster said...

vale the tote. I have had a few interesting evenings there as well.

It was a great venue to find some of those great bands.

Margarita Milonguita said...

I'll definatly be there this Sunday to have one last beer there. I will miss it.

dam buster said...

Yeah same here. It was like that odd stain in the carpet you remember fondly for all the wrong reasons.. A great venue.

I have posted it on my blog too.. sad days indeed.

ps like the look on the blog.

Margarita Milonguita said...

Thanks DB- did you venture down for last drinks over the weekend?
I went down on Sunday and it was amazing and sad at the same time. True community spirit and people standing together in solidarity and non violence- I know, I'm sounding like an old hippy! Arghhh!