Australia Day in America: Snow not sunshine in New York CityJanuary 28th, 2011 by Andrzej
It snowed on Australia Day this year in NYC. Eight Mile Creek, an Australian bar & restaurant in Nolita, has an Australia Day party every year. I wandered up there from my apt around 11pm and found Andrew the owner shoveling snow from the footpath in front of the steps leading to the bar downstairs.
And a snowball fight between people arriving and people leaving. We had serious snow that night. It was obvious a lot of people were hoping for a ‘Snow Day’ the following morning, as it meant they wouldn’t have to go to work. It started falling around 6pm and over 12" had fallen by the time it stopped around 5am. The snow ploughs were out in force all night to avoid the debacle that happened after Christmas when the city ground to a halt and ambulances couldn’t get to people that needed them.
I was pleasantly surprised to see Paul when I got inside as I didn’t realise he was back in town. He used to manage bands in Australia when he scored a Green Card in the Lottery and moved to NYC just before the economy crashed. He got a job working behind the bar at Eight Mile to stay alive and was there for about 18 months before taking off last October to visit family and friends in Australia. It turned out he got back last week (complete with Australian summer tan) and he’d come in to have a drink with a friend when Andrew asked him if he could work behind the bar as they were so busy.
Andrew, Brendan and Paul were kept busy downstairs whilst Sarah dealt with the restaurant and Ravi held the fort in the upstairs bar, which was quieter and a calm respite from the madness. As always, Fred was on security and had little to do but stand by the door and make sure people didn’t make too much noise when they got outside. The neighbours don’t like to be disturbed.
Australians in a party mood are a force to be reckoned with. And this is the one night of the year when they are out for a serious party. Snow or sunshine makes no difference when arms are being bent back in a bar. Green and yellow was the colour obviously favoured by the ex-pats and Coopers Ale caps were another favourite of the night. Everyone was in a good mood. Old friends and new friends were catching up and swapping numbers for future reference.
For those of you reading this who are not Australian (and according to the stats there are quite a few of you out there), Australia Day is equivalent to Independence Day. And much like Native Americans are not overly enthused with Independence Day, Aborigines recognise Jan 26th as Invasion Day and have their own separate festival in Sydney. But that is a whole other story that I will not get into at this time.
When I first moved to NYC and realised that an Australian bar was only 5 blocks from my apartment, I resisted going in there. After all, I didn’t move here from Australia to hang out with Australians. Ironically enough I subsequently discovered that Mulberry St. between Prince and Spring should probably be called Little Australia, as there are also 2 stores and a cafe owned by Australians as well as Eight Mile Creek in that one block.
But as I found myself going past Eight Mile Creek every time I was going out, I started dropping in there. And met some great people. Made some good solid friends. And now swing by every couple of weeks to catch up with them.
The restaurant upstairs serves excellent food at a reasonable price and its possible to get food at the front bar until midnight most nights. Which I’ve used on more than one occasion when I’ve lost track of time whilst working and found myself starving late at night. The bar downstairs is generally more party oriented and so stays open later than the upstairs bar.
When I left Eight Mile around 2.30am I was amazed to see how much more snow had fallen in the 3 hours I’d spent inside. Cars were completely buried in snowdrifts and the bicycles chained to parking signs gave a clear indication of just how much snow was settling as it stayed perched on their narrow wheels. There weren’t many people out in the blizzard and those that were looked to be intrepid travelers of the night.