Melbourne’s Cherry Bar is an institution in the city’s live music scene. A cornerstone of “alternative” nightlife in the CBD, the bar has stood as a glorious bastion of sticky carpet and stale beer since 1999, weathering the storm that sunk many others.
The bar’s booker and owner, James Young – an outspoken sort of bloke who rarely pulls a punch – has caused something of a stir globally after making a pair of Facebook posts this week, theorising that Tinder and Netflix are responsible for a downswing in pub and club attendance.
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The story has since been picked up by local and international news sources like Mashable, the DailyMail, InTheMix, and others.
PEDESTRIAN.TV reached out to Young, who provided further comments on the matter, stating that the business of operating a bar already relies on a razor thin business model as it stands.
“It only takes a 10% drop in numbers to kill a bar, so they are fragile businesses.”
Beyond the original conversation with the promoter at Collingwood’s Yah Yah’s, Young cited the perceived effect Grindr has had on Melbourne’s Commercial Roard gay scene as something of a litmus test, stating that many bar owners across the city are feeling the pinch.
“Tinder is killing off many bars, just as Grindr destroyed the Commercial Road gay scene.“
And the cause, he posits, is changing habits and attitudes towards dating, coupled with the rising cost of going out and the unpredictability of live music.
“Netflix and Stan may be the next ‘dating.’ It’s affordable, and you’re on the couch already. Live music can be expensive and hit and miss. But there’s actually nothing better than a great live music experience.”
However, the news is not all doom and gloom. Other entertainment areas are benefitting from the upswing of more one-on-one dating situations, particularly those that offer a more intimate setting than a rowdy band pub.
“I think Tinder daters play it safe and go to cafes. If they brought their date to Cherry they might lose them to someone else. Plenty of people have met their life partners at Cherry.”
“I also book comedy shows at the Yarraville Club, and I think we have benefitted from Tinder, (because) comedy is a good, safe date option.”
But despite all this, Cherry Bar itself remains a mainstay of live music and nightlife within Melbourne that exists largely outside of any ill-effects of changes in modern dating.
“Cherry is a very robust business. We’re lucky. We can weather the tough times. 2015 has been tough. I think people finding new and different non-social ways to ‘pick up’ has to mean a downfall in numbers at bars and clubs.”
“Cherry is mainly about the music of course, but I think sex has always been a part of rock ‘n’ roll too.”
Whether there’s been an identifiable drop in bar patronage specifically due to Tinder and Netflix is probably going to be a hard thing to truly ascertain.
But with Melbourne enjoying a boon in bureaucratic live music conditions, with the Agent of Change laws being implemented, and the incoming trial of 24 hour weekend public transport combining to make the city “the world’s most gigable,” according to Young, in an interesting and intriguing worry to have in a city that otherwise has very few – particularly when you consider the lockout laws that are going a long way towards garrotting Sydney of its live music scene.
Either way, it’s definite food for thought. Is a band gig ever a good date venue?
Like dating itself, it just depends on what you like.
Photo via Facebook.