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Shore Thing, Not So Sure?

By Dan Hutton on February 23, 2012 in

Photo: Mark Shapiro

Since 2005, Bondi Beach has played host to the Shore Thing music festival and each New Year’s Eve around 15,000 partygoers flock to the event. Yet despite its immeasurable popularity amongst Gen Y kids, its life may soon be ending, as a group of frustrated locals continue with their campaign to put a stop to the dance party.

Whilst the event has troubled locals for years, causing the consideration of many plausible concerns, the debate surrounding whether or not the party should be canned has raised some much deeper and multifaceted issues; namely, just who wears the pants in a community that is still grappling to come to terms with its own dramatic transformation and diversification over the past few decades.

Any old school Bondi local will have you know that in the past twenty years, their once quaint suburb has metamorphosed into a haven for hip, Vogue smoking, General Pants wearing trendsters. For many of Bondi’s life-longers, the feeling is that these disrespecting, party-till-dawn newcomers treat the suburb as a debaucherous playground, not their home. And they probably have a point. Take, for example, Bondi’s excessive market for bottle shops and alcohol; within just a 2km radius of Bondi’s epicenter, there are more than 34 venues licensed to sell takeaway grog.

It’s of little surprise, therefore, that despite the influx of travelers and blow-ins from other parts of Sydney on New Year’s Eve, the majority of Shore Thing attendees are actually these new, young Bondi residents themselves. Hence, just one small complexity in this battle, which is not so much about Bondi wanting to reclaim their beach for the night, as it is an attempt by the original and family-minded residents to revert Bondi to what it once was but now is not.

Due to the increase in backpackers over summer, Waverley Council has commissioned the Summer Safe Initiative, which runs as a campaign to educate visitors about ‘best practice’ when holidaying and allows for strategic measures, such as security on Christmas Day at Bondi. Additionally, the SSI commissions the Dudley Park NYE Party, which is a family focused event. The council would usually absorb the costs of such projects but instead they are paid for by the large fee (rumored to be between $250,000 and $300,000) that the council receives from Shore Thing organisers, Fuzzy.

The Bondi Beach Precinct Committee is emphatic that the event excludes families and all those not wanting to get hammered and rap along to Snoop Dog. They argue that it is a disservice and danger to the community and that the council is using Bondi as a ‘cash cow’ rather than acknowledging the rights of community members to have access to what would otherwise be an extremely popular NYE destination for most.

However, Brandon Saul, who has run Bondi’s NYE events for the past 15 years, says that no matter what ‘type’ of party you hold and no matter how good your intentions, young party-hard adults will still gravitate to the area. The point is to give them a space and an activity on which to concentrate their chaos. Not acknowledging the inevitable presence of a young, binge drinking generation and refusing to manage the situation with a structured event will only create mayhem, he says.

“To think that Bondi can actually put on a NYE party that will be a successful collaboration of diverse community groups is completely naïve,” Saul told The Beast.

Fuzzy’s contract with Waverley Council has recently expired and negotiations are now proceeding. Mayor John Wakefield has been vocal about his lack of support for Shore Thing in the past but acknowledges that many councillors are in support of the format. He also made it clear that the final decision will have nothing to do with money.

“If the council made choices based on money and money alone, there would be no such thing as libraries or street sweepers,” he said.