$10,000 to drink with rich tossers, anyone?

De Nom
“Will Sydneysiders pay to skip to the front of the queue and drink with beautiful people?”, Amy Wild asks in an article about a new member’s bar, De Nom. In a word, nup. Especially when the going rate is $10,000.

Apparently members’ bars are the thing in London and New York. Yawn. Those cities have always been full of tossers who make themselves feel better about the general emptiness of their lives by participating in activities that exclude other people. It’s the whole basis of the aristocracy. Some people judge coolness purely on the basis of how difficult it is to get in, imagining crowds of people who are desperately jealous of them. Some people have a problem.

De Nom’s co-owner, Paul Schell, says he thinks the idea hasn’t taken off here previously because “Aussies don’t believe in elitism”. No, we don’t. We are generally uncomfortable with exclusivity – with being treated as if we’re special while the riff-raff wait outside. Most Aussies would rather have a beer with those riff-raff.

After all, there wasn’t a special section at Gallipoli for privileged Diggers who could sip champagne behind a velvet rope rather than going over the top. And if the Diggers didn’t do it, then I’m against it. (Then again, as if people as rich as this had to go to war.)

To be fair, I can understand something of the appeal of an exclusive bar, because any half-decent watering-hole in Sydney is packed to the gills on Friday and Saturday nights. You can’t ever hear yourself talk, let alone sit down. Sometimes that’s fun, but if you want to enjoy conversation – let’s say you’re on a date or something – it’s completely impossible. I don’t know anywhere that’s guaranteed to be quiet and pleasant.

But bars like this aren’t a good solution. Can you imagine the kind of people who’d frequent a bar which costs $10k to join? That price point automatically excludes anyone creative (not to mention journalists), and any academics or students, or anyone who works for the government or an NGO. Virtually anyone interesting, in other words. Anyone genuinely cool probably can’t afford the drinks, let alone the membership fee. In fact, pretty much everyone besides investment bankers and ‘old money’ snobs is going to be frozen out. I can’t imagine a less attractive crowd.

As luck would have it, though, I found myself accompanying a friend to this bar a few months ago – I don’t think it had a name or a pricetag at that point. (I don’t usually move in such refined circles, but it’s nice to see how the other half live sometimes.) It is extremely beautiful – the atmosphere was lovely and the service very friendly. I’d have liked to go there again before I read about this. Now, I’ll clearly never visit again. Which I’m sure the door policy would’ve guaranteed anyway.

The disturbing thing, though, I found, is that to enjoy De Nom, you have to be comfortable whooping it up in a Versailles-like environment. Whereas I couldn’t help but remember why the French invented the guillotine.

The plan will probably work brilliantly, because those privileged enough to get inside will take enormous delight from that, and from their ostentatious little solid-gold cards, and the feeling that they’re special. Whereas the rest of us will be absolutely delighted that we can’t get in to De Nom.

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