Surrounded by pricey real estate, the complex of tennis courts, squash courts, a bowling green,  sprawling clubhouse and car park has seen better days. Fortunately it’s hidden in a cul-de-sac, so the pavement stays dry. A through road would be awash with the drool of developers.
Don’t be misled by the name ‘Sports And Social Club’. I once made a similar mistake during a visit to Far North Queensland.
“Let’s have dinner at the yacht club,” said my host. I donned my cream slacks and nautical Ralph Lauren sweater.
The place was a brick barn on the waterfront, filled with pokies, pool tables, and fat sweaty men in shorts and singlets downing parma and pot.
When I tipped the waiter, my hostess said loudly, “Don’t do that darl, he’ll only spend it on drugs”.
The Sports and Social is Melbourne’s landlocked equivalent. There’s a whiff of dry rot in the air, the carpet has a rather adhesive quality, and there’s an industrial-size barbeque bolted together from bits of scrap metal out the back by the bowling green.
Hubby and I sat on a bench, watching slightly scruffy young men playing barefoot lawn bowls.
“So, what are these guys doing, exactly?” asked hubby. I explained.
“And that’s it?” he snapped, in disbelief. There are some things Americans just don’t get.
The resident lush homed in on the blokes on the next bench.
“Are you with the bucks night or the gay boys?” she asked. “The bucks night,” they laughed.
“So who’s the groom?” They pointed to one of the bowlers, clad in a floor-length semi-transparent white skirt and blouse, and blue eyeshadow.
There then followed a ribald conversation, ending with the boys taking an upskirt photo of the groom.
“That is so going on the internet,” chortled the photographer, passing his iPhone around.
Meanwhile on the adjacent courts his mates were stripping down to their jocks, playing pants-off tennis — doubles, naturally — showing off for an appreciative but discreet audience of ‘the gay boys’.
I was going to write about Mardi Gras, their treatment of our veterans of ’78, their rejection of our queer animal activists, and their snub to our leading Tasmanian activist, one of the giants of Australian queer politics.
Mardi Gras seems to have turned into Mardi Maigre — a skinny  bitch.
Instead I give you simple, slightly wary, sharing and acceptance in suburbia. Against an overblown pink minstrel show for the tourists that emphasises and perpetuates the divide between us and them.
No contest.

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