80s Night at the Sooki Lounge

By Alice White

We’re the hardcore
early arrivers, high-fiving
when we get through the door
for free –
Carla as Boy George
and me,
the lost Bananarama
in red bandana and earrings.

Women pour into the club.
Shona, Chris and Karina come
in a maxi-Uber, Deb
in her old Toyota with Isobel
shit-faced on double vodkas.

They reach capacity at nine.
For the rest of the night
there’s a constant line
of boys waiting in the rain,
until a girl lets them in
so they can buy a drink,
try a wistful hip sync.

Under the speakers we sway
to New Order
with the women in taffeta
and the girl in a red Mohican wig
transformed for the night
into a lithe Brolga Crane.
I’m shifting plastic $2 Mardi Gras beads
further up my wrist
and banging hips
with a random stranger.

From the toilet stairs it’s like
there’s an 80s’ girl band on stage
as the crowd obliterates
any male sound.
I bump into Bailey bemused
to see his teacher
out so late
blue eye shadow lathered to her brows.
‘What you doing here?’ he demands
‘Having fun,’ I reply
moving in time to Bowie
with the woman in black who yells
‘I don’t mean to be offensive but
isn’t it great that we don’t give a fuck!’

Now we’re dancing by the bar –
‘The Voice’ becomes a female anthem.
‘We’re not going to live in silence.
We’re not going to live in fear.’
Side by side in time,
sharing the joke
of waving ghost lighters in the air
for cigarettes we no longer smoke.


Alice White is an English teacher and leader in a government school in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, where she also lives with her partner and two children. She was born in the UK and taught there for six years before moving with her partner to Melbourne in 1999. She has dual citizenship but is not planning to enter the Australian parliament. From 2001 to 2008 she had a range of poetry published in journals such as Blue Dog and Cordite and co-wrote a collection Heartstricken that was printed by Ginninderra Press. She also wrote a musical with a friend that was performed last year. Alice went back to full time teaching in 2012 and since then has been a little quiet in the poetry world!