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Finding Emo in Melbourne

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19th Sep 2008


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Hip shopping on charming old Chapel Street
What is an emock you ask? To Melbourne for the answer: emocks are emotional jocks, a hip hybrid individual recently minted in Australia's coolest town, featuring a combination of skater punk, surf dude and nice guy, dressed in the style of Hedi Slimane and Marc Jacobs.

emos are emocks

Elsewhere on the globe, the look (Chuck Taylor converse and floppy hair) is dubbed emo (short for emotional) but here, it's emock, because Australians are tougher.

Note: lurking nearby are jazz loving, red-lipped girls socialising against grafitti painted alleyways. If that doesn't paint a mental image of how painfully hip Melbourne is, then nothing will.


Melbourne features two airports in separate universes, so make sure you know where you're going and where you've been. The train is a joke, so since you know this, hop a taxi to St. Kilda, Elwood, Fitzroy or Collingwood, the epicenters of pain for the masochistically hip. These neighbourhoods surround the city centre and offer a host of activities with a cool village feel.

Unlike Sydney, Melbourne feels like a collection of little villages ringing a tight urban centre - a bit like New York, without the height. It is in these village areas that you will find yourself most of the time, and they are great.

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Killer city views from Adelphi's rooftop lappool

Contractors have put the finishing touches on the new Adelphi, allegedly one of the world's first boutique hotels opened in the early 1990s. That was ages ago, so the retrofit is designed to bring Melbourne's star gem right up to speed. The highlight of the Adelphi remains a rooftop pool that juts out over the edge, allowing passersby to nip a view of your itsy bitsy teeny weenie polka dot bikini as you swim overhead. Even after all these years, it is still the place to be.

Right down the street is the Hotel Lindrum, situated with some cool views in the centre of downtown, all the easier to check out the graffitti alleys that make Melbourne so grittily charming. Be sure to ask for a room with bay windows.

Farther up on the must have must do scale, but also farther afield, is The Prince in St. Kilda. St. Kilda is the kind of place you wish you could live in and where every day feels like a Saturday afternoon. The Prince was designed by local architect Alan Powell and represents St. Kilda's claimed attitude as centre of shabby chic. This place forgot the shabby, but isn't too stuffy to not feel friendly, like a pair of Gucci jeans. The onsite bakery is steamy, and so is the lobby after dark.

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Emo grafitti, serious business in Melbourne's alleys
the scene

Melbourne, like much of Australia, is friendlier than the average metropolis. On the outside Melbourne looks like a big city, but on the street level everyone s your mate. Despite this, the people do not joke around with style - its so avant garde they need a letter before A. Walk into a pub in Collingwood and you might see a guy tattooed from head to toe in blue, or a pack of schmodels crossing the street like gazelles. We like Back Bar and its mix of beats, but there are heaps of great places up Chapel Street and around the side streets of Fitzroy.

The general rule about Melbourne is: the darker the alley, the better the club. The best locations are hidden, and the best bands tend to have names like the Fuck Fucks, which would never last on another continent. Incidentally you can catch the Fuck Fucks going crazy at regular intervals around town, including the very shifty, very dodgy Greyhound in St. Kilda. For a more sophisticated experience, try the Carlton Yacht Club Bar, home of Melbourne's best cocktails.

When the sun comes up and you find yourself strolling the weekend markets and the cutting edge downtown galleries, don't forget to indulge in two of Melbourne's favourite passions: coffee and cake. The coffee in Melbourne is so good its unreal - nearly impossible to find a bad cup and once you leave, you'll think everything else you taste is completely horrible. Same thing that happens in Seattle. Ditto on the cakes.

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The Acland Cake Shop window, St. Kilda
Down in St. Kilda the Acland Cake Shop, Matilda's and Le Bon Cakes fill their windows like all the cake shops on Acland Street with delectable pastries and concoctions that rival anything on the grand boulevards of Europe. Step inside and your nose short circuits to a menagerie of smells. People have been know to curl up and die right there, revelling in the indulgence of justified morbid obesity.

There's probably time for a bit of business in Melbourne as well, but you'd do well to go light on the serious. Just remember to be sparing with the water - the never-ending Big Dry means there is only a 60 day supply, and everyone is a bit jittery about the subject.

Finally, Melbourne is a great place to get a tattoo - everyone seems to have one, like a secret badge of honour from down under. We like the looks of the artist's work at Voodoo Ink. Not a bad souvenir, from what will undoubtedly be a long flight home to reality.

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