More “Neil’s Decades” – 11: 1986 – 2001 at The Albury

As I said in 2012 in Priscillas I have known: “Oh yes: The Albury – where I met M in 1990 and Sirdan and chatted with the former Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan – and The Unicorn, and all that 1980s-early 1990s scene.” There are some vids there.


Is it that long ago?

31 Oct 2007

The Empress has sent an edict:

Lest We Forget

31 October 2001


Yum Cha this morning was myself, The Empress, Clive, James, and eventually M, absolutely exhausted and needing the food. It was a good Yum Cha (The Emperor’s Garden service was friendly and excellent). After that M went home to sleep — he starts again tonight at 6 pm, and I went with James and The Empress to the Albury — yes, I was there this Sunday — where we surprised the bar staff by eating barbecued quail that Ian had purchased, and added a Chinese tonic to our beer (it said it could be used in beer) which caused the beer to look like some Jekyll-and-Hyde potion, but actually improved the taste!  — March 4 2001

It is also where M and I first met in July 1990. Is it that long since it closed?

See also the images at mais où est l’Albury d’antan?

Last night I confessed on Facebook:

Instead of watching what I intended on ABC2 I have found myself deep in memories thanks to Bruce Part’s photos of The Albury Hotel. This is a rendition of one of those photos.

And someone comments on Bruce’s album:

Such an beautiful original old pub destroyed! I was saddened when I finally moved to Syd and it was gone. I met a lovely guy there on my first visit around 1996 and didn’t leave empty handed….a big deal for a country boy!!!

“Such an beautiful original old pub destroyed!” indeed. I hope Bruce finds a few more to share in that “boot box full of photo memories.”

I have cropped a couple and given them the art makeover treatment.

FotoSketcher - 16042_232492893548533_882882010_n

There are more images there.

It was a rather wonderful Art Deco pub too.

The Albury Hotel situated at 2a Oxford Street, Paddington, was once the premier gay hotel on Oxford street. It was famous for its drag shows, colourful personalities and one of the best piano bars in Sydney.  It is now a clothing store. Quite a sad outcome for such a pivotal social hub of the eighties and nineties…

I never visited again after it became shops. I note it was up for sale again in 2012.

More memories:

28 Oct 2001


I went and saw Father John in hospital and he has come through well; indeed he expects to go home tomorrow.

After that I decided to drop in on the Albury’s final party. There was an invitation list; I was never sure I was on it, as I am in some ways a rather anonymous person there. It turned out someone of my first name was on the list, albeit apparently associated with the Bayswater Fitness Centre. Despite my denying any association with fitness centres, they let me in anyway; not sure what happens if the other N. turns up!

Sirdan, the Empress and Malcolm were there, with many a person I didn’t know and some I did. “Hugh La Rue” whose caberet act I have described in an earlier entry was there, but not performing, and recognised me. It was nice to see him again. I didn’t stay all that long–the free punch was dangerous I suspect. I saw a fair bit of the final “Pollie’s Follies” drag show and some of the acts were very good; one even actually sang. Miss Lucy was the first number after Pollie and did “The Lonely Goatherd” from The Sound of Music, with some quite remarkable leaps (in high heels) for such a large person.

A. was there. Not quite at war yet, but hoping; very much at home at a drag show.

So, there goes an association (with The Albury) going back about thirteen years–longer with a few visits when I was still living in Chippendale, so it must be sixteen years** since I first went to the long-defunct piano bar. The crowd today was still not as big as when the pub was at its height, but big enough. The Empress, of course, was at The Albury’s opening night as a gay bar–I am not sure how many centuries that is–and was determined to see through the last night. When I saw him last someone had given him a schooner of punch. I do hope we see him again…

** Make that THIRTY now!


June 7, 2000
Got the new computer today, and aside from stuffing up my Outlook Express (which I’ve sort of fixed) all is well so far. Anyway, true to what I said above (and this time I’ll make the diary go forwards instead of backwards) I’ll tell a story:

It was about eleven years ago. I and three friends were sitting at the long bar in Sydney’s famous Albury Hotel on Saturday afternoon. A few other people were sitting around various other parts of the bar. In walked a young blond sailor in full uniform. Now, one of my friends was ex-RAN (Royal Australian Navy) and commented what a fool the guy was to be in a gay bar in full uniform. He did, as you can imagine, attract attention.
So the sailor sat, basically just being beautiful and ignoring everyone around him.
Person after person walked up to him, chatted –with intent 😉 –and was politely ignored. My friends and I watched with amusement. For two hours the sideshow went on, and always with the same result. Disappointed queens of every description came and went.
In due course my friends went and I was left alone on my side of the bar. I was often a long sitter in those days (never a really big drinker though) as the Albury was virtually my loungeroom. I was living in a house not 500 metres away.
Well, I decided I would chat up the sailor. “Aren’t you a bit of an idiot coming in here dressed like that?” was my romantic line. I got a kiss for my reward, and asked if he’d like to come back to my place for something to eat. He accepted!
Let’s just say we had a nice time, the sailor and I. Like Cinderella he had to be back on base before midnight, so after a little getting to know each other (in several ways) I escorted him back to the Albury where I spirited him off to the back bar where he was not quite so much like a beacon from the street. When I went into the main bar to buy us a drink, I said to the Bar Manager, who had been observing the earlier charade, “Did you see who ended up with the sailor.” “I know, Ninglun,” he replied, “and the entire Albury is with you!”
Of course I never saw him again. He was blond, nineteen, and from Darwin. And yes–he was a real sailor!

Oh dear, that IS a long time ago! All this was prompted by a photo someone posted on Facebook:


So evocative, and taken from the very part of the bar where we usually sat.