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Last Beers at The Tote Hotel (Melbourne Australia)

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day toya,

It seems no one is happy about the closure of the Tote Hotel

Sometimes it really can be a pain in the butt living in a small dusty mountain town in China.

Last week there was an announcement made that not only shocked the beer from my hand but it also sent a level 10 earthquake through Melbourne city and its live music scene. The shock waves have not only been felt within the city itself they have been felt all over the world by international bands who have played its small stage along with international lovers of the Tote Hotels famous sticky carpet, front bar and Jukebox. I won’t go into details as I have added a heap of information below for you to read but I can tell you that since Friday many of my friends have pretty much been shacked up at the Tote drowning theirs and Melborne cities sorrows with last beers.

Protests have been happening over the weekend as people now have a true insight as to what Melbourne’s live scene is really in for due to the Brumby governments latest greedy pocket filling shannanigans that many believe has let to the 'beginning of the end’ of Melbournes world renowned music scene. I myself have just purchased a few too many coldies to drown my own sorrows to while listening to some of my favourite bands that have had me jumping around over the past many years..

You don’t even have to be a punter to appreciate what an icon such as the Tote Hotel really stands for and does for the cimmunity and culture that it exists in. I spent many years stuck to its carpet seeing countless bands and my buddy Richie Ramone owned the lease and ran the place for many years. Sadly though tonight is last beers at the Tote Hotel and sometime tomorrow morning my friends will join the challenge to see who will be the last punter not only to be served the last beer but also sadly to leave the famous corner street front door before the latch clicks its final beer soaked beat.

<u>LAST BEERS FOR THE TOTE HOTEL</u>

Taken from a news clipping last week.

THE Tote Hotel, one of Melbourne's most influential live music venues - and late-night haunt for musicians and fans alike - will shut its doors early next week. Embattled owner Bruce Milne, who purchased the licence with his brother James in 2001, said yesterday the Tote was a victim of liquor licensing measures that deem his business a ''high-risk venue'' on par with King Street's nightclubs. ''I have simply run out of money,'' he said. ''Every effort I have made, which have been reasonable, sensible compromises, have fallen on deaf ears.''

The Tote opened 27 years ago and grew notorious for its beloved ''sticky carpet'', comprised of layers of spilt drinks, sweat, vomit and cigarette ash. The building was constructed in 1911, close to John Wren's illegal betting shop (made famous in Frank Hardy's novel Power Without Glory). Overseas acts the White Stripes, the Dirtbombs, Mudhoney, the Datsuns and Mike Patton played seminal gigs there while Australian acts the Hoodoo Gurus, Spiderbait, You Am I, Paul Kelly, Silverchair, Jet and the Dirty Three all played celebrated gigs there.

The Tote was also renowned as a second living room for Melbourne musicians.

Insiders say the hours between 1am and 3am were the venue's most profitable. However, six months ago, at a significant financial cost, Mr Milne, in a concession to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, began closing at 1am in an effort to avoid being categorised as ''high risk''. The venue's liquor licence fee, due this month, still jumped by 500 per cent, money Mr Milne could not find.

''We've been closing at 1am to escape being high-risk and it's really hurt us,'' he said. ''We don't have a long-term lease and the fees have come to a head in the last few days. I just can't afford to keep fighting.''

State government controls initiated to curb alcohol-fuelled violence have hurt the venue. A requirement that two security guards be present when entertainment takes place - such as an acoustic act playing to 20 punters on a weekend afternoon - have had a crippling effect. ''I've run it for nine years and we haven't had violence,'' Mr Milne said.

Collingwood police were surprised the venue was closing. ''It's not one of our trouble spots in the area,'' Sergeant Nathan Kaeser said.

The two full-time staff members and 16 part-timers employed by the venue were told yesterday they would be out of work. ''It was heartbreaking,'' Mr Milne said. ''It's the most difficult decision I've ever had to make. But I can't pretend that I can afford to keep the doors open. I can't afford to go to another VCAT hearing and put myself into further debt.'' The venue's management will gather a line-up for one final concert early next week. A cluster of Melbourne acts were vying to be the last band that plays the venue's stage.

''You'd be insane to open a music venue in Victoria or inner Melbourne,'' Mr Milne said.

<u>PROTESTS OVER THE CLOSER OF THE TOTE HOTEL</u>

News posted Monday, January 18 2010 at 02:00 PM. ICONIC Melbourne rock venue the Tote will close its doors this weekend.

After being deemed a "high risk'' venue, escalating liquor licensing fees will see the venue close this weekend. A farewell concert is being planned for Monday night and a punters are planning a protest at the Tote at 6pm. Tote licensee Bruce Milne warned that other live music venues in Melbourne are also on the brink of closure. "It's too late to save the Tote but I can try and save some of the other music venues,'' Milne said yesterday. "The inner city live music venues with late licences are all feeling the pinch, but they're all too scared to say anything, as I have been until now. "I don't care anymore. I'm financially ruined, I'm emotionally devastated but at least I don't have to keep my mouth shut about the insanity of something going on in Victoria.

"People might be bouncing chairs off each other in King Street nightclubs but the reality is the Tote is paying for it. "We're killing a live music culture that has never been acknowledged by this government. For them it's all about sport.''

Milne said the Liquor Licensing Commission has judged the Tote, a small pub supporting up and coming live bands, with the same criteria it judges nightclubs in violence-prone King Street. ''Big nightclubs can afford legal fees, we can't,'' Milne said. "We can't afford to lobby. We can't afford the crushing legal fees. It's all come to a head. I can't get them to not charge us a high risk venue (liquor licensing) fee. "I'm not a high risk venue, you can't show any reason I should be in that category. We're a quiet little pub. The Collingwood cops joke that the Tote is the one place they don't bother with because nothing ever happens here.

"But once you're in that high risk category the Tote is apparently a recipe for alcohol-fuelled violence, as opposed to what I thought it was which was a bunch of music fans having a beer and watching a band.''

As well as upping the licensing fees, the high risk criteria would see the Tote forced to employ two security guards to police the venue. ''We don't generate the numbers or the alcohol sales to finance having a minimum of two security guards, for four hours minimum, getting paid $40 an hour for standing around twiddling their thumbs,'' Milne said. &#8216;We can't have bands playing Saturday afternoon for free if I have to pay security guards. Every Tuesday night for nine years we've had three or four young bands playing. "It's not a big crowd, it's barely worth opening the doors to be honest but we do it because those bands become the Magic Dirts, or Jets or Spiderbaits, it's an investment in their future. It's an incredibly important part of Melbourne's music community and culture.

"Where do bands play their first gigs now?

Even tiny acoustic places are going through hell. They've been told they have to have two security guards for a banjo night. It's ridiculous. I had to tell 18 people I'm putting them on the dole queue and we've been calling bands booked to play gigs up until Easter they can't play here anymore. There's no logical reason it should be happening.'' Bands such as the White Stripes, the Meanies, Spiderbait, the Lemonheads, Magic Dirt, You Am I, Fugazi, Cosmic Psychos and the Hoodoo Gurus have all played the Collingwood venue.

The protest ended with a final fitting tribute by a brass band, who lead a New Orleans-style funeral procession down Wellington Street. The final gig at The Tote will take place from 2pm today. The event, which is open to ticketed patrons only, is sold out. It will be broadcast live on Triple R and PBS.

<u>LAST DRINKS LINE UP</u>

The lineup will feature, in no particular order:

Hoss, Legends Of Motorsport, The Drones, Dave Graney & The Lurid Yellow Mist, Dynamo, Deaf Wish, Guttersnipes, Kamikaze Trio, Dan Kelly's Dream Band, The Nation Blue. The Onyas. The Breadmakers, Spencer P Jones & The Escape Committee, Cosmic Psychos, The Meanies, The Dacios, The Exotics, Precious Of Jules, Beaches, Town Bikes, The Stabs, Johnny Casino, Bombshells, Digger And The Pussycats

<u>THE HISTORY OF THE TOTE HOTEL</u>

It is said that in the early days of settlement the nascent city of Collingwood had one church, one mill, one bridge and fourteen hotels. We don't know how a vulnerable community would have survived with such a ratio but we suspect the church must have been very free with the sacramental wine.

We haven't been able to track down the first hotel on the site, it's lost in the mists of beer fumes. A dairy covered the area for many years but there was a pub called 'Healys' here in the early 1870's. By 1876 The Ivanhoe Hotel was up and running and would stay that way until the name change to The Tote in the early 80's (1980's that is).

The present building seems to have been built in 1911, we've never found any evidence of the original buildings because we've been waiting on a Government grant before starting excavations.

John Wren's original Totaliser, an illegal betting shop, operated at 136 Johnston Street. The numbering of the street seems to have changed so if anyone knows exactly which shop it was then please let us know. The original Tote operated between 1893 and 1905 and was made famous (in fictionalised form) in Frank Hardy's novel 'Power Without Glory' (1950). As far as we know they never served alcohol or had any bands play.

The connections between The Tote (the hotel) and The Tote (the betting shop) are at best murky and at worst down right fraudulent. There are persistent rumours of tunnels running from the cellar of the current Tote under Johnston and Wellington Streets to shops opposite. These are supposed to have facilitated get-aways for the bookies who used to operate from the pub. If you've ever been in the old cellar of the Tote (whose entrance is guarded by our world famous Jukebox) then you'd know why we haven't been too enthusiastic about investigating the truth of these rumours.

Spend much time at the Tote and you'll eventually encounter the ghost of the Tote. Not a scary ghost, nor a particularly friendly ghost, this fleeting apparition seems to inhabit the landing of the stairs (beneath our large 'Cobra Woman' banner) and always seems to be making their way upstairs. Perhaps it's a lost punter looking for the toilets, or a faded rock god who's demise no-one noticed, but we prefer the story that involves Squizzy Tailor, a rowdy new year's eve and an uncooperative publican.

Last Beers N Noodles toya…..shane

PS: Yes thats me licking the beer from a a friends boot..can't waste a drop mate! PSS: The photos I have added are from about ten years ago as The Tote wasn’t really the type of place I used to take my camera too. The small group shots are &#8216;the/my Tote Crew’ who until this very night have been frequent punters and many of their bands until tonight have been playing the Tote's stage for the past ten to fifteen years. The &#8216;Crowd Shots’ are of one of the protests over the weekend that I took from a few different net sites this afternoon AND LASTLY a huge FU should be sent to the Brumby Government and another huge FU should also be sent to VCAT for allowing such injustice!

Nice work guys, NOT! No Beers N Noodles for you…Bastards! ___________________________________________________________

The soundtrack to this entry was by Spiderbait The album was the awesome &#8216;Tonight Alright’ ____________________________________________________________

Small Venues.com , News Paper Articles , Save The Tote - Facebook

Music Doesn’t Make You Voilent , The Tote Protest Rally 17 January 2010 - Bruce the Owner

The Tote Crew &#38;amp; Last Beers &#38;amp; Protests

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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