I just got home from Hotel Esplanade’s first Friday night since re-opening this week. I wanted to jot a couple of things down while they were fresh in my memory.. while my heart is still elevated from the experience.
This week St. Kilda got its soul back. The Espy. Tonight I nestled into a table at one of the ten (I believe?) bars in the venue and watched the front door swing open every 6 seconds as people came in, one after another, looking up at the high ceiling and around from one bar to the other, smiling ear to ear with sheer, unbridled excitement. They would turn to their friends, “how good is this?!”… “oh thank god”… “look at that!”
It’s the same look I had on my face. This is something very special.
Now I know a lot of venues have this ‘presence’ yet there’s often something missing, a lack of substance below the surface but this venue’s history as the one of the great live music venues is palpable as you walk the floor.
Then you realise the detail. Nothing overlooked, from design, to menu, to cocktails, to staff. You can tell a lot about a venue from their bathroom. Thank heavens the owners of this establishment have encouraged their staff to be delightful, friendly, helpful, inviting. Someone greeting at the door, someone asking if they can help you, telling you it’s fine for you to leave your cumbersome bag behind the desk, someone offering a round of drinks because the (super tasty) food order was running slightly behind. Detail. Service. I’d almost forgotten what it was like.
I’m not going to go into detail on the plethora of bars and areas that you’ll no doubt see for yourself in due course (you must).
But I will go into detail on the people. The patrons. It was more like we were all at someone’s (epic) wedding, rock star guest list, dancing in celebration of this exciting, momentous occasion.. brought together by love. People from all walks of life. Quintessentially St. Kilda. The central dance floor (in front of the grand staircase) was heaving as we all sang in unison at the top of our lungs, “don’t you go out in the rain… don’t you go out in the… pour-ing RAIN!” And it was pouring (thumping) outside. Can you imagine? I’ll remember that moment for the rest of my life… I put my phone down (sorry guys, just before the chorus climax) and joined the dance floor with the biggest grin on my face. Like I was a kid again. The DJ certainly didn’t imagine it either, she could not take the smile off her face, none of us could. It’s ok, it’s cool to smile.
So that’s it. We’re going back tomorrow. It’s world class. Well done to all involved, you treated this icon with all the respect it deserved and we’ll be there to thank you for it time and time again.