the ding dong lounge

“Maybe I should hang out in classier places to meet guys”
“Would you really want to date someone who wouldn’t hang out in a dive?”

The Ding Dong Lounge is a place I spent way too many nights, where I drank way too many drinks, and took home some questionable guys. There were birthday parties and New Years and Christmases and fights and things I don’t remember. There are other that have made me sad over the years: The Rodeo Bar, Collins Bar, The West End, McHale’s, Zuni, but none really hurt like the Ding. It’s that place from my early 20s that I’ll always love and will always be part of my map of New York, even though I didn’t hang out there any more, even though it’s closing. 

So here’s to hostel boy season, the crooked tables, the lock on the bathroom I could barely reach, the shitty pizza place on the corner, Sergio and Two-Condom Jimmy, learning to drink whiskey and to tip your bartender well. And thank every higher power there is that social media and smartphones were not really a thing then. (But I have pictures, ladies. Boy do I.)

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Little Bear - @stealingneal

Live @ The Ding Dong Lounge

Coffee #7: Clementine Bastow (friends on Facebook 2.0 since November 2013, 46 mutual friends)

Clem and I first met at Ding Dong Lounge in 2006 and had what could be considered a whirl-wind relationship. Within a few weeks of seeing each other I had moved into her place (my first time moving out of home) and over the next 18 months we lived together in two different places both in Carlton North.

In hindsight, Clem and I were at very different points in our life when we got together, however she taught me invaluable lessons about myself, life’s ups and downs, feminism, music and relationships in general. Overall, it’s safe to say that I wish I had been a better boyfriend to Clem.

Today was the first time Clem and I had seen each other in six years, so we had a huge amount to catch up on. She packed up and moved to LA a couple of years ago and has since been back in Melbourne tying up loose ends before heading back over to the U.S. with her partner.

Clem is a hugely talented writer and has been writing freelance for numerous online and print media for 15 years now and excitingly has recently completed two feature-length screen plays. She’s also very involved in millinery and “leather work with a focus on Western floral and Sheridan-style tooling and carving” and creates amazing costumes for Comic-Con and cos-play conventions around the world. Since we dated, I was proud to hear that she’s also mastered the art of creating the perfect jam (jelly for U.S. readers), having won multiple blue ribbons at the Royal Melbourne Show.

Today Clem and I caught up on our families, chatted about pop-culture and the time she rapped Die Antwoord’s remix of ’Orinoco Flow’ to a room of gobsmacked LA-types. Oh, she’s also a musical encyclopaedia and I still listen to a huge amount of mix CDs she’s given me over the years.

Clem drank a Coca Cola and I drank a flat white.

So great to see you, Clem!