ONE NIGHT in hipville
Forget the hipster hate, Adelaide has a bar, chew and brew scene that that says no to faux and offers plenty of hip places to go
shirt, and skate shoes or boots. And having taken my own advice, I set out, looking on fleek*, to find places in our city that live up to the hipster founding principles.
Adelaide is amid an urban renewal and is ticking off most of the hipster checklist: pop-up places and pedestrian spaces; cycle paths and sake bars; boutique burgers, barbers and brewers; artist appropriations of unused buildings; and chefs who that know the name of the farmer who grew your heirloom carrot.
Thanks to “activation” (aka giving abandoned shops to people with beards) hipster revolutions have happened in Peel St, Bank St, Leigh St, Bent St, Topham Mall, Union St, Ebenezer St, Gilbert Place and Gresham St. Outside the CBD, hipsters head for Queen St, Croydon; Gibson St, Bowden; The Strand, Colonel Light Gardens and St Vincent St, Port Adelaide.
Right now, Peel Street is hippest of the hip, so I head there with friends to start my night out. First stop: subterranean art deco speakeasy Maybe Mae.
At the bar and on the leather banquettes is mixture of hipsters, suits and two Irish airline hostesses who invite us into their conversation. Our chosen aperitif is the Ruby Lu – champagne-infused preprandial perfection. The vibe is hipster with a chic twist – what New Yorkers call “haute hipster”. But the chat – flight attendant tips on five-star Dublin hotels – is more haute than hip, so we set off again in search of street-style cool.
We grab a cab and head east, for a late-sitting dinner at Afrikaan-influenced restaurant Africola on East Terrace. The stools overlooking the kitchen allow us to marvel at South African chef Duncan Welgemoed and his team as they work. Co-owner of Africola is “artvertiser” James Brown, a 35-year-old graphic designer – more hippy, less hipster – who is central to the rebranding of Adelaide through his work on everything from pop-ups to high-end interiors. His interior design work here bursts with AfroClash* colour. My dining tip: opt for the Chef’s Menu and you’ll be tucking into Afrikaan dishes such as peri peri chicken and slowcooked mutton, all boasting militantly seasonal ingredients.
Sated, it’s time to head back west for an ale at Clever Little Tailor. The name comes from a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about three dudes who woo a golden-haired princess, and the bar is co-owned by three dudes who woo facial-haired princes.
The mezzanine level offers three tanleather booths, where chatting with friends and making new ones is easy. Need some hipster conversation starters? Try these for size: Have you streamed the new Tame Impala album yet? Can I get a vegan burger around here? Have you seen Harmony Korine*’s tap-dance films? Don’t you just hate the hipsterization of Adelaide?
As the witching hour approaches we decide it’s time to go full turnt* at club Ancient World.
The laneway that leads to Ancient World is definitely not activated. Dark and unwelcoming, it’s a hipster Rubicon. We hold our noses (the laneway stinks of pee), take the plunge. In a flash we’re inside an unvarnished space dancing to a band that is so obscure the singer has yet to meet the drummer. The fashion here is nxtsht* (electro pink polyester, trench coats, print ed tops); the chat is about installation art, Kickstarter projects and, of course, who’s going home with whom. Behind the bar, the beer of choice is... West End. That’s right folks – Adelaide’s daggy, doggedly un-craft beer has been co-opted into the hipster movement. But hey, it’s cheap and gives you a buzz, which pretty much describes a night at Ancient World. You could have a night out here for under $20.
At the end of our night out we realised that hipster can be a can of lager and a dance, or a champagne cocktail before charcoal prawns. And it can still be authentic. And for all the negative press hipsters get (snarky*, Ricki Hall* clones) the fact is their choice of drink, dance and dining destinations are diverse, awardwinning and changing the face of Adelaide for the better. We can all be hip to that.