Long before writing Eat, Pray, Love Elizabeth Gilbert worked at Coyote Ugly – the dive bar famous for its hot bartenders, free-flowing whiskey and Hank Williams-packed jukebox. In 1997, Gilbert penned an essay on the bar for American GQ. Unfortunately, it was made into a cheesy film starring Tyra Banks. The story still holds true, though. "We were the good-time girls," she wrote. "We were a cross between Old West dancehall hookers and gangsters' gun molls. Crack that gum, swing that ass, drink that shot, keep that change. If I didn't know you, I called you Mack, Jack, Slim, Dutch, Duke, Pal or Buddy. You talked trash to me; I talked it right back, but faster. Anything you needed, I set you up. You gave me trouble, I'd tell ya to scram."
So when we hear the Kings Cross Hotel have opened a dive bar (they've called it Dive Bar) serving till 6am on Saturdays, we cry 'yippee!' and slide on our special drinkin' boots. "It's a late-night bar," we think. "So we'll hit some other bars first and head there later on." Which we do. And promptly get turned away at the door. It turns out the Kings Cross Hotel boasts the nicest bouncers in Sydney, with one of the toughest RSA policies.
So we try again the following evening, early (and sober). And lo, we are in and drinkin'. The below-decks bar is filled with dim-lit back booths and pool tables. The only thing missing is a picture of droopy-eyed hounds playing poker and a cloud of stale cigarette smoke. The jukebox, filled with everything from Kate Bush to the Stranglers, the Clash and Michael Jackson, eats up at least half of our beer money. Happy times. But buyer beware: once you're in you'll have to behave yourself. Being kicked out of Dive Bar isn't hard. Keep it tidy and you'll have fun. A lot of fun.
The question is, can you run a dive in Sydney? You can certainly call it one. The hard part of having a bar like this in such a heavily policed and tightly controlled piece of real estate is the free-flowing booze. It's no dive bar where you can punch back beers and whiskey when torches are being shined in your eyes by patrolling police. Responsible Service of Alcohol dictates that a bartender shouldn't serve anyone they suspect of being drunk. Fair enough. But it does take a bit of the fun out of it. The Dive is an awesome late-night bar, provided you haven't written yourself off earlier in the evening.