The Last Minutes of 2012

The time is December 31st, 2012, 11:50 pm. The place is a pub in an eastern suburb of Sydney, Australia. The eastern suburbs in Sydney are closer to the city and to the beaches and wave breaks of the Tasman sea, and east usually means a hipper, younger crowd. The folks in the pub are a pretty artsy, alternative collection of people, without being overly self-consciously stylish. Some of the men sport big beards; Some of the ladies in their elegant but rather unconventional wardrobes certainly draw appreciative looks. Several people showed up in costumes. A few large Aboriginal Australian girls cruise in, seemingly having a great time. New year partygoers shuttle back and forth between the bar and their tables with renewed supplies of local beer, European wine or shots. A remote controlled shark-shaped blimp floats above the heads alongside the vintage movie posters.

Floating shark blimp, oblivious to any fight aktschn nearby.

Floating shark blimp, oblivious to any fight aktschn nearby.

The end of the year countdown now certainly enters its critical phase. 2 more minutes! My gaze, somewhat slowed down by a moderate drinking effort initiated in the late afternoon drifts across the room to the pub’s large street-view window. There, on the sidewalk just outside,  a very nervous looking woman jumps up and down. Next to her, the beer bellies of three shirtless men wobble in all directions. Is this some kind of dance? No, it’s a fight. The fat guys are throwing punches at each other. None of them is destined to become the next Marvin Haggler – these are typical, poorly aimed, angry drunk’s punches. Nevertheless, one guy goes down, and his adversary throws a few more right hands at him. Ouch, not nice. The crazed chick and the winners quickly run away.

The pub crowd got caught a bit of guard by this spectacle. A tall fair-skinned guy in a woman’s black dinner dress – I am not sure if this was his humorous new year’s party costume or if he’s a cross dresser with a passion – is the first to run out of the pub’s door and check up on the looser. He is the man (?) of the hour, agitatedly yelling for support. The floating shark could not care less. The rest of the pub goers is somewhere in-between. Just seconds ago they mentally prepared for the happy adrenaline rush of transitioning into ’13, but now they are asking themselves, can you actually be cheerful if someone is lying hurt on the pavement just outside the door? The pub’s owner and a few other people have also gone outside to check up on the KOed streetfighter. Inside, the social inertia mostly carried through, and the new year is toasted into existence. Still, concerned looks at the situation outside are interspersed with the confetti-throwing and the beer drinking. What a weird new year. A few minutes later, the fallen fighter gets up, and the police arrives as well. The atmosphere eases up again. The party goes on.