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HOPEBROS
September 30, 2013 | by  | in Features Homepage |
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Hopeless 12

Overheard in the gents': “Oi can someone get with my mate? She’s pretty hot and it’s her 21st” #hopeless12 #romance

For the entirety of my university life, Hope Bros has been somewhat of an institution. While the music has changed from dirty dubstep that I never worked out how to dance to, to hip-hop causing girls to fall on the floor from dropping too low, to comfortable Top-40 remixes, the sticky carpets, sweaty bodies and smashed glasses on the Hope Bros dance flo’ are always a guarantee. While first-year institutions like The Big K and DTL have closed their doors and the clientele at Mighty Mighty persist in an uncomfortable level of self-awareness, Hope Bros has continued to provide a reliable space for meaningless grinding and tabletop dancing that wavers somewhere between ironic and tragic.

Perhaps it’s the handy location—right next door to Dreamgirls; the nostalgic quality warranted by its proximity to older students’ first-year haunt, The Big Kumara; or purely the fact that you’re guaranteed at least one boogie to the Macarena or a Backstreet Boys song—whatever the reason for patronage, it’s standard to find yourself in Hope Bros at least once on a Saturday night. And if we don’t have a Hope Bros story of our own, we’ve all definitely heard one. Personally, Hope Bros has provided me with a mixed bag of experiences over the past four years. During the Rugby World Cup in 2011, I had my drink spiked by a bearded Irishman. Somehow, even that wasn’t enough to stop me chanting “Hope Bros! Hope Bros!” as my friends drunkenly wandered from Good Luck to Mighty Mighty on a Saturday night. Last year, after a birthday shout-out from the DJ, a guy appeared and laughed at my attempt to dance to ‘Gangnam Style’. A few months later, he became my boyfriend—like many before us, “we found love in a [Hope Bros] place.”

Given my unabashed love of anything mainstream, not to mention free drinks on Salient, I was quick to accept the challenge of hanging out in “Wellington’s [self-proclaimed] best bar” for 12 hours. Perhaps I should have given the task more consideration before responding with an enthusiastic, irrevocable “YES!” While most of us experience Hope Bros post–10 pm, the bar opens at 11 am—God knows why. I’m sure even the additional patronage of our group of ‘journalists’ wouldn’t have been enough to pay the seemingly endless stream of staff emerging from behind the bar. At 3.03 pm, I entered Hope Bros alone. I introduced myself to the staff and explained why I would be there for, well, forever. I promised I had people coming to meet me. “Oh! Are you meeting Paul?” No… “John?” No… The bartender clearly didn’t understand. Neither did I, really. I resisted the urge to yell, “I promise I’m not weird!” and settled down to wait for friends. The cleaner was vacuuming. I considered running away.

The lead up to 10 pm was, to put it mildly, dire. At 5 pm, staff promised me that it would be “going off in six hours”. I tried to run, but I was stuck there. Literally. The carpet upstairs was so sticky it made me wonder if it was really even navy. We investigated the bathrooms and decided someone had definitely spit on the floor. It was only 5.30 pm. My initial hesitation about eating dinner in Hope Bros was mitigated by the fact that there were six apparently willing people consuming $9 meals. Good food seemed to be the only justification for subjecting oneself to this deserted hellhole.

At 8.16 pm, the bearded man who’d been vacuuming when I arrived stood at the bar and knocked back whisky like it was water. After considering his thin legs and sneans, we decided he was an alcoholic. So was everyone else in the bar pre–10 pm. There was no other apparent justification for being there, unless you were particularly attached to the soundtrack—‘N Sync and Phil Collins. Hope Bros’ website professes to have “something for everyone”. This was evidently true given the motley crew skulking around the bar. In came ‘The Lynx Mob’, five mid-20s dudes wearing too much Lynx and shoes that were too shiny. A 40-ish creepy guy wearing an orange cap, sunglasses and white sneakers who we affectionately named ‘Souljah Boy’ soon followed, flicking his hair and winking at a Salient Co-Editor. A group of dudes in awkward suits accompanied by two women with brightly coloured hair went straight to the bar for tequila shots. Six men in wheelchairs rolled in. And then, of course, there was us.

Preparations for the fresher influx began just before 9 pm; meanwhile the dark interior and five hours of drinking beer was taking its toll. At 8.39 pm, I noted: “metal barriers go up outside as ‘Where is the Love?’ by BEP plays. Need to pee. Slightly despairing and questioning life decisions.” I didn’t want to pee, though, after a Salient bathroom reporter announced, “there’s some chunks floating around. Not sure if they were vomit or poo.” At 9.28 pm, I was the only female patron, as far as I could tell.

I saw no end to the bleak environment that was Hope Bros pre–10 pm, until suddenly it appeared at the bottom of a Jägerbomb. The twinkle of the disco balls caught my eye as I tipped up my glass. Maybe staying ‘til 3 am wasn’t such a bad idea, after all.

 ***

At 10.06 pm, hope was found. A group of freshly intoxicated fresher girls sprinted in and achieved the ultimate goal of the dance floor: get yourself to the highest possible point on stage and shake what yo mamma gave ya. For these girls, this meant disregarding the fact that the ‘stage’ was still in seating mode and covered with cushions while others quietly ate their dinner. I later discovered we’ve all got a bit of Sir Ed in us when it comes to getting to the top of Mt Hope Bros. As the night went on and the dance floor swelled to a writhing sea of sex and warfare, the quest to conquer the stage took on the epic proportions of the tales of Lancelot and Guinevere—the Holy Grail being the tonsils down the back of someone else’s throat. No body is spared, as my friend learned the hard way, being pinned against the stage by an angry girl mob while I desperately clawed at him.

Within half an hour, Hope Bros had become a jungle. I felt like a parent who takes their kids to the zoo to see the pretty cats, only to be met with lions tearing apart steaks bigger than your arm. Pre-pubescent-looking boys rubbed their hands together with glee as they scoped the fresh meat. For the baby-faced, it’s best to get in early if you don’t want to be emasculated, as around 11.30 pm, “sexy gang guys” turned up. Carnal desire was no longer thinly disguised. A girl dragged a guy into the bathroom and left with her lipstick smudged, though none visible on his face. One creep in a blue shirt repeatedly preyed on practically comatose girls—it was a relief to see girlfriends coming to the rescue and prying his victims away.

Being over 20, I felt like one of the oldest cutting shapes, bar a lone wolf who appeared to be in his 50s bopping along with only his Heineken for company. Perhaps what I was feeling was sobriety rather than age. While being comparatively sober in the centre of the dance floor made me realise that it reeked of BO and feet (lesson learned: if you can smell it, you’re too sober for Hope Bros), my journalistic efforts were rewarded by finding $10 on the floor.

Around 1 am, the quest for carnal gratification got desperate. Dude bros left en masse, realising there was nothing here but more dude bros and only a few hours left to find their gazelle. Those who had resolved to stay with me ‘til the end were dropping like flies. I refused to be beaten by Hope Bros, and called in the boyfriend for the remaining hour. While I had initially feared spending the earlier hours alone, I realised that this last stretch was in fact the worst time to be a lone deer sipping from the pond. Until he arrived, I had been feeling smug, thinking that I looked more refined than all these drunken, sweaty messes leaning on each other and staggering around in stilettos, but I realised I was one too when he asked if I had been crying. My make-up was smudged, my voice was gone, and I smelt like Hope Bros. We watched minutes tick by on my phone. At 3 am, the music was still going, as were a few lone rangers content in their solitary groove. I ran downstairs and sprinted out the door. There was no way I was staying a minute longer.

As I stood in line waiting for the next available bank teller on Monday morning, I was reminded of my weekend’s antics. The guy before me was getting money out to pay the bar tab for his 21st birthday party. “And who do you want the cheque made out to?” “Hope Bros.” “Who? I’m sorry, how do you spell that?” The incredulous look on the face of this freshly 21-year-old said it all—how do you spell that?! Who doesn’t know Hope Bros, the place so cheap they don’t bother with a shot glass for your Jägerbomb? Hope Bros, the place where carnal gratification is almost always guaranteed, so long as you aren’t too picky. Hope Bros, where your impressive lyrical knowledge of ‘90s pop ballads grants you unimaginable pulling power. Hope Bros, where all your wildest dreams come true.

——

Favourite notes from the field:

4 pm Text received: “Thanks for joining the Hope Bros Loyalty Club, it’s great to have you on board.”

10.10 pm “JÄGER BOMB TIME. Lights are off. I think I’m about to
become the story of my feature.”

12.20 am “Girl in tight dress can’t make it up the stairs lol is she even wearing underwear?”

12.29 am “2.5 hours to go. Losing voice and feeling tired. Go big or go home, Pen.”

12.36 am “I found $10 and picked it up. Thought to self: well, if the story is shit, at least we have this.”

1 am “There’s a mint on the girls bathroom floor at Hope Bros.”

1.48 am “Stag night and hen night meet at Hope Bros; bride- and groom-to-be are grinding on the table. LOVE IS NOT DEAD.”

1.50 am “Weird guy ruined it by humping hen.”

1.58 am “Is that woman eating a giant chocolate penis?” “No Penny, that’s a microphone.”

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