Why You Should Absolutely Have Your Next First Date At The Local RSL / Bowlo

As anyone who has been single at any point since 2015 or so will tell you, dating has never been more of a “thing”. Gone are the days where you’d meet someone at a house party, fall into bed and then just venture into a relationship of some sort. Nope, we’re all teeing up actual outings with people we’ve never met – and that means sussing venues that feel casual enough to take the pressure off, but sexy enough to create a vibe.

Ladies and gentlemen, can I interest you in the humble Leagues Club?

I say Leagues Club, but actually what I mean is any of those old fogies clubs that has a bistro/buffet situation, nightly entertainment and a constant, weird chemical scent that’s absolutely masking the whiff of pee and puke embedded in the carpet. RSLs. Bowlos. Whatever. They’re all good.

Anyway, I went on a date over the weekend to Easts Leagues Club.

These places were all made in 1995 and will remain standing in their 1995 glory after the apocalypse

It’s a Bondi Junction institution and the spiritual home of the Roosters, an NRL team for anyone who DGAF about footy. It’s huge, it was highly frequented by my wider family in the ’90s, so it has huge nostalgic value to me.

The suggestion we go there started as a joke based around the absolute absurdity of having a first date at such a place. But honestly folks, I reckon it was the best date I’ve ever been on. Here’s why.


The dude I went out with, known here only as ‘Rafael‘, a name HE chose because… who fucking knows. He may have his extremely-made-up name. I’ll allow it. Anyway, Rafael had unbeknownst to me become a MEMBER of Easts Leagues Club before our date. THIS is how to win me over, you guys. Take my idiot idea and then just fully commit with blind abandon.

It cost him $7 and now he now has membership for an entire year. I took a photo of his membership card because it is so fucking funny to me.

Because of Rafael’s membership, drinks were 10% off. This doesn’t sound like much but it meant our schooners of beer were only $5.90 a pop. Compare that to the ridiculous $9 you’d be unloading onto bar staff at one of the many wank-fest Newtown pubs I normally end up on dates at, and you’re looking at basically half-price beeries. Not too shabby.


My Editor Josie loves to refer to a generous wine serve as a “Newcastle Pour”. What she means is a glass of wine that’s not measured painstakingly to the regulation drink line. Now, I’m not saying Easts Leagues Club was flaunting bar rules by free-pouring – but they DID have the option of a “small” or “large” wine, the large being pretty much full to the brim. INTO IT.


There’s like, 400 TVs in Easts Leagues Club and every single one is showing a different form of sport. Depending on how well your date is going this will either be incredibly distracting or a welcome focal point for conversation.

Look, people on bikes doing things on the bikes

Is your date droning on about some moron at their work that you don’t know for 400 years? Interrupt by telling them someone just did a 360 spin on their motorbike on screen 42!


The night we went was “roast night” which meant we could choose between lamb, turkey, or pork roast with ALL the trimmings. Here’s a photo of my lamb, which was delicious in that “nan special” kind of way.

But every night at the Leagues Club was a meal deal! Monday? Two-for-one. Tuesday and Wednesday? LEMON SOLE, BABEY! It’s just a constant stream of little surprises. Who doesn’t want a little surprise with dinner? Unless it’s a cockroach in your food. But that would never happen at Easts Leagues Club.

The food was also this perfect blend of pub classics and fancy takes on pub classics – most notably their apple pie, which featured cinnamon ice-cream and pecan toffee.


I am extremely against pokies – and you can’t get around the fact that most RSL’s and Clubs are full of ’em. So I’m not speaking of the pokies when I say there’s games.

I’m talking about KENO.

I fucking love Keno, OK? It’s basically a sort of Lotto situation where you pick a bunch of numbers on a slip of paper, and then you pay for however many games you want to play. So it’s gambling, yes, but I am not personally opposed to it when played sparingly and so on. My grandpa introduced it to me when I was like 10, which I think was probably illegal.

We chose 5 games at $1 per game each. Then you get to sit down with your beer and also watch a screen throwing up numbers that may/may not be part of your slip. The excitement!!! The sheer fear and joy mixed together!

I’ll also tell you here that our first kiss was over some Keno papers in the corner of a very empty bar that smelled like chemicals, and if that’s not bloody romantic then what is, friends.


Other games? There was a big poker tournament going down, which we did not participate in because a) it seemed very cliquey and b) neither of us had any fucking idea how to play poker. There was also a badge draw, all these competitions you could enter (IF you were a member) and all through the week there’s all these raffles and trivia and bingo… it’s just a big GAMES PARTY!


I fucking hate how packed Sydney is all the time, and while you’d think a busy, bustling pub is the best location for a date – the actual reality is you can barely hear each other, someone spills a beer down your nice jacket, and you step in a piece of parmigiana within the first five minutes.

In contrast, the local old man’s club is EMPTY. The bar had literally 5 other people in it, which meant we scored this entire cosy section to ourselves and could actually converse and get to know each other. What a novel concept!

Dinner arrived in literally 5 minutes, too. Which was maybe too fast but hey, better than waiting an hour for a cold cheeseburger.


I was 110% not bored on my date, but just say you *did* get the snoozy vibes, there’s all this shit around to look at! Look at these jerseys I spotted next to our table, for example.

random NRL paraphernalia I don’t understand! Woo!

History! So much of it!

So there you go. I hope I’ve convinced you to hit up your local club for the next first date you venture out on. I really think it’ll make you, your date, and both your wallets really happy.