On the 111th day, Daniel Andrews said let there be beers. And behold, there were beers. Last Wednesday night, Melbourne was a bubbling cauldron of uncontained positive energy. The bars and pubs filled with absolute pure fucking glee.
A dormant city fizzing, then erupting from the absolute ecstasy of what was for so long taken for granted. Kegs were dusted off, pints were poured, the people's spirits soared. The city felt like a big ol' drunk family barbecue, everyone was getting along, everyone was on the beers. It was unadulterated, undiluted good times man.
We headed out, on the ground, amongst the chaos to chat with messy Melburnians enjoying a well-deserved beer for the first time in months. And of course, as all great nights in Melbourne begin, we started at Asian Beer Café.
Oh, almost forgot, my boss told me to make sure I included this: the following views are not those of MTV Australia. So don't get all hissy if you read a naughty word :)
Benny (left), Odin (middle) & Jake
MTV: Lads, how does it feel to be finally back on the beers?
Jake: Aw mate it gives me a hard on. Daniel Andrews told me to get on the beers and I'm on the beers mate.
Is Daniel Andrews the only reason you're here?
Jake: Oh nah, I like alcohol. I miss this so much man, talking shit in the smokers.
Benny: Yeah talking shit with people I haven't met for once. I live with these c*nts so I see them every day, so I'm over their faces. I mean I love them but I fucking hate them at the same time you know.
Jake: It's been a long eight months.
It's just after 4:30pm now, how long you boys been out?
Benny: We started at 12pm. We've just been warming up, we've already been to like three pubs.
Can you give me a play-by-play of that first beer, how did it feel?
Jake: Mate it was sunny, we were sitting out on the balcony, at a pub overlooking South Melbourne markets, talking shit, having a cigarette–
Odin: It was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. The sun was shining and the beer was flowing. It was fucking gorgeous.
Benny: I've never been so happy, ever, in my life. And it was the most expensive beer I've ever bought – $10 for a schooner.
Odin: Worth every penny.
Was it full of people at midday?
Benny: This is the busiest bar we've been to today by far.
Jake: It's been dead man – I'm surprised there's not that many people around. I was like what the fuck's going on?
Benny: Yeah but no one's even finished work yet, it's only people that are on Centrelink that are here. That's why I'm fucking here – I got paid today by cenno bro – straight to the pub!
Shouts from the balcony:
Thank you ScoMo! Fuck I love Centrelink.
Benny then proceeded to do a shoey.
Been a good while since I've seen a shoey up close. I'm getting emotional. How'd it feel?
It felt like I was back home in Queensland, apart from there's shitter beer here and it costs more. And my foot's cold too.
Nice. How'd it taste?
Uh, it tasted– it tasted like a shoey, that's for sure. I'd do it again though if someone bought the beer.
Would you do a shoey from Daniel Andrews' boot?
No. No, I would throw it in the Yarra River. He should resign, and same with you Scott Morrison! You can go on holiday forever and not come back. Do us all a favour you fucking w*nkstain. Bro, who goes on holiday when our country is on fire?
Well, Scott Morrison does.
Benny then starts a chant of "shoey" which soon captures the whole smokers area.
My friend, what wise words have you for the readers of MTV?
Haezy: It may seem like a small step for man, but it's a huge step for mankind. Melburnians are made to eat, drink, and socialise, and to show love – but we haven't been doing that for eight months, so now it's time to shine again, share the love, prosper, overcome. New chapter. New year. Thank you very much.
That was inspiring.
Thank you. It's great work by everybody, with the patience, with their hard work – a lot of sacrifices, but we're seeing the finish line, we're seeing the light, so it's a good time.
It's an extremely lovey vibe tonight, do you reckon this whole experience will change the overall culture of Melbourne?
When you're restrained from something for so long, you begin to appreciate it a lot more, and I think definitely we've missed socialising, meeting new people, and we won't take that for granted in the future I think. We're smart enough to realise that people are definitely important in our lives and I feel like the parties are gonna get rowdier, the clubs are gonna get messier. Melbourne, we're gonna take partying to a whole 'nother level.
Watson (left) & Lara
Well guys, we're finally out. How does it feel?
Watson: It feels weird man, but it feels good. Been thinking about this beer for a very long time.
Lara: It's well overdue.
So we had that initial delay on Sunday, then 24 hours later, Dan Andrews says get on the beers – what was your reaction?
Watson: Dude it was a shock.
Lara: I thought he was going to extend it to be honest.
Watson: I thought the reopening would be a slower process, but it's all happened quite quickly. They've opened the floodgates.
Lara: Well you kind of have to when our rolling average is under five.
How did you keep sane during the lockdown?
Lara: We're both in medical – I'm in radiography and he's in nursing. So we've both been working throughout it. It's been pretty crazy. The medical field has been pretty full-on, we got overflooded. At the start we didn't have PPE, we didn't have facemasks, working through the flood of 700 cases a day.
Watson: Yeah, and for me in nursing, looking after COVID patients was pretty intense... Hearing how bad the virus was, and then actually experiencing it first-hand.
Lara: It's surreal, you see people who are 20 in ICU, and you think they'd be fit and healthy at 20, but it just shows how surreal the virus is. People come in for a scan after they've had COVID and we'll see people who had "recovered" from COVID three months ago, but a CT check-up will show chest infections and underlying issues that are caused from COVID. It hangs around.
You're both in your early 20s, on the frontlines and obviously being greatly impacted by all this, how do you feel when you see people on the streets protesting and calling it a 'plandemic'?
Watson: Honestly man, I understand it. I understand that people are mad at being locked down. Especially if you're living at home by yourself – you've got no interaction, you've been laid off work, understandably you're going to be upset. But on the other hand, I can see why we've gone into lockdown, no one wants to lose their grandma to this, you know what I mean? So I understand both sides. I'm glad we're finally coming out of it.
Lara: It's hard for us to see people saying it's a myth when we see the effects of it first-hand, but you also want to get back to the normal, seeing cases are so low.
Watson: There comes a point when, to what extent do you lock people down? Imagine if we were to go into a third wave – do we go back into lockdown? Because then you have the mental health effects, socio-economic effects…
Lara: Yeah and this coming from healthcare professionals – we see the effects of it, but we also see the economic struggle from it, so we need to come through with a COVID normal.
Emirson, how we feeling?
Emirson: We're feeling amazing man, it's been so long. It's great to be out on the beers again, in public. So much positive energy. There's a very weird positive energy tonight, I feel like everyone's on the same wavelength. Everyone's feeling the same vibe. I think everyone's feeling excited now because we're finally allowed out, whether it stays this way or not I don't know, it may go back to the way it was, but I can't make that call, I can't predict the future.
No fuck that. Predict the future Emirson.
Alright look, I'll tell the future: everyone will be going back to normal, and everyone will be happy. Positive energy.
What are you going to tell the grandkids about this historic day?
That we lived through this whole period of coronavirus, and in the end – and during it – we still stayed positive. We lived through it, we kept going with things, and at the end we're still happy. Melbourne, we pulled through together, we stuck to it. It's good to see.
How does it feel to be back on the beers Zoe?
Zoe: I wouldn't say I'm back on the beers, the beers actually never stopped, in fact there were way more in quarantine, but I think what I love the most is being served a beer, outside, getting to order it, having people do that, and being around people – it's actually weird being around people, it's amazing.
It does feel quite odd to actually be out just casually talking to strangers. I feel like I've kind of forgotten how to do it.
Right! I'm not used to so many people in one place – like this used to happen but I barely remember what to do. The only socialising I've been doing lately is with my neighbours and my bottle shop people, and my Coles people, and the strangers on the street that you say 'heeeyy! Have a lovely day! Happy quarantine!'
How's your first day of freedom been?
So we were at another bar before this, shopping before that. Actually walking into a store was such an amazing feeling. Just walking in you know?
That's so wild, imagine going back a year ago and telling yourself 'hey, you will feel amazing just walking in a store'.
Yeah back then I would just walk in if I was bored, nothing special, now it's a very special moment. It's just great seeing Melbourne full of people again. I've lived here for three years and it was so empty during the pandemic. It didn't feel like Melbourne.
Three years, so you understand Melbourne by now – how would you describe the energy of Melbourne?
First multicultural. Which is the best thing. You can bump into a person from literally anywhere. I love that. Melbourne is quite friendly, you meet people, you just get along even when you don't know each other.
Hey man, we're asking people how they feel being back on the beers – you're not on the beers at the moment, but you're out here with a magnificent beard, bringing the vibe with your music – how do you feel?
Max: I'm really really happy to be back out and to be part of the live music scene in Melbourne again. I wanted to drag these guys out and do some busking 'cause we thought everyone would be really happy to be out seeing live music again, seeing musicians bringing vibes on the street, trying to get Melbourne back to its former glory.
You're definitely making it feel like Melbourne again.
This is the first day, and it's a monumental day in Melbourne's history so I thought we gotta get back out here. And it's just really, really fun, and I can see the look on people's faces, from the cars, people on the street. Feels really good to be back.
How about you man, how you feeling?
Rayan: Feeling amazing man. It feels like a bird has been caged in for a very long time, and we've had to learn to adapt our muscles within the cage, AKA lockdown – you know what's funny actually? Before the lockdown I thought, 'man I wish I had a few months just to practice really hard' just so when I come back out, there is something magical, there's something to share with people that they haven't heard. And now, coming out of this, it's quite a pleasure for us musicians as finally our wings have spread you know? We're finally able to actually share the things we've been working on.
So lockdown for you has been a time of introspection and development.
Yeah man, it was like a university without a lecturer, without class, without genre really. It's given us time off from all of our gigs and weddings and ceremonies that we do for our agents, and all that sort of thing – it's given us time to really hone in. Now finally the door has opened, and already there's a strong sense of the golden olden days, it's gonna take a bit to come back, but that's why we wanted to come out here tonight.
Reta (right) & Kyla
So it's R-I-T–
Reta: R-E-T-A. With an 'E'. Grow up.
Right, how embarrassing. So how does it feel? You're actually out and about.
Reta: So fucking good. It's amazing. Get this, so I moved to Australia from New Zealand at the start of March – so left happy carefree New Zealand just to be in lockdown here for the last eight months or so.
Fuck. That sucks.
Reta: Nah it's been so good though, I'm not even envious of New Zealand 'cause Melbourne is so much better. So much better clubs and bars and everything. Literally not a single moment since moving here have I wanted to go back.
Kyla: I'd rather be here poor than in New Zealand doing stuff.
Really? That's crazy
Reta: What do you mean crazy? Melbourne is so much better than New Zealand.
Kyla: This whole pub is busier than all of Hamilton put together.
Reta: Ohhh can we make this dog famous?
Reta then picks up a random passer-by's dog (with permission of course).
How does it feel to be back on the town Jasmine?
Jasmine: It feels good honestly. I feel like I've actually learned a lot from this iso – like a lot more gratitude, appreciation for your mates. So now that I am back I'm like ready for a new life, you know what I mean? I feel like we took everything for granted – going out in Melbourne, it's just something we always had access to but I feel like now there's just so much more appreciation for just hanging out with all these people and the connections you make. So now, I've made it my goal: I'm just going to meet everybody. Every time I go out I'm going to make the most of it because you never know when it will be taken away from you.
It's a good vibe, the energy I've felt tonight has been insane. Is that something that resonates with you?
Yeah! I feel awesome. It just never jerried to me that we took so much for granted before. Now those small moments with your friends, or even just ordering a beer!
An actual beer.
I know, that first sip… ohhh it was refreshing. It was cold, icy, it was good. I'm stoked to be back.
How long have you been out today?
Well my friend came over this morning and we had mimosas for breakfast.
Amazing. Jasmine, do you have any closing comments for the people?
Be safe, enjoy yourself, have fun, appreciate your friends, and all of these moments that we finally get.
It's going to be a good rest of the year! I'm excited!