Guys with cities as part of their names, the soothing sound of ivory balls knocking against each other, free jazz, vast dimly lit rooms with scatterings of low-hung rectangular down lamps over smoke-filled, green cloth horizons – all the things you’d imagine in the quintessential pool hall of days gone by. At The Red Triangle – after turning down a side street, entering a relatively non-descript door and climbing up three rickety flights of wooden stairs – you’ll find yourself in a cavernous, exposed-beam attic that, aside from the smoking and the move to phenolic resin balls, delivers on every archetypical pool hall promise and just oozes a cool timeless ambience.
In fact, this snooker, pool and billiards room has been here since 1977 and whilst the landscape outside its majestic windows has changed significantly, not much inside has. Just ask 90-year-old Hal Peck, who has been coming here almost every day for the last 40-odd years.
“There used to be a jukebox and pinball machines in the corner, but the staff decided [about 20 years ago] that jazz was enough, and it has improved the atmosphere. Because there is no alcohol license, the tables stay in great condition, and the room encourages beginners, families and serious players.”
But The Red Triangle isn’t just known for its cue-sports. The $6 deluxe milkshakes, assorted comfy couches, 80s videogame arcade machine and oversized chess set draw people in too. The staff guard their recipes fiercely, but with flavours like the Ferrero Rocher, Snickers, Tiramisu, Cherry Ripe, After Dinner Mint and Hot Jam Donut (which has a shot of hot strawberry jam dropped into a cinnamon-flavoured milkshake) their secrecy is understandable. As added incentive, if you can become the king of Kong (or beat any other high score) you get your name up on the high-score board and a free milkshake of your choosing.
The Red Triangle welcomes both experts and beginners, but if you want some tips to improve your game before you come in, the staff are always happy to help and there are free beginner lessons on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Here’s one to get you started: “The most important thing is ‘cueing’ consistently. Try and limit the movement of the cue to just forwards and backwards by bringing your chin all the way down to the cue and keeping your head, shoulder and elbow in line,” explains Australian under-21 snooker champion and employee Charlie Chafe. “Chalk often but sparingly and think about your cue-ball placement for your next shot.”
Open from midday to 2am every single day of the year, with half-price play weekdays until 6pm, there are six full-sized (12x6 feet), one American (9'x4'5"), nine three-quarters (8'x4") and three pub-sized tables (7'x3'6"). Owner Tino Fulgenzi ran The Triangle in the 80s, sold it, then missed it so much he bought it again 20 years later. It’s a pretty cool way to misspend your weekend.
Red Triangle Snooker Room
110 Argyle Street Fitzroy
(03) 9419 7330
Daily noon to 2am