It’s official: Newtown Social Club is now Holey Moley – a mini-golf cocktail bar where you can eat and drink while you play. Funlab, the entertainment company that also owns Strike Bowling and Sky Zone, purchased the venue earlier in the year and spent two months installing 18 novelty holes over two storeys.
On the ground floor, hit a ball into Pacman’s mouth and get a photo with the Game of Thrones-inspired chair made of golf clubs. Head up the stairs (they’re now lined with funhouse mirrors) and turn right at the neon angel wings where NSC staff used to scan tickets. Next to a copy of the living room from The Simpsons, and a donkey with Donald Trump’s face on its backside (The Ass Hole), hit a ball onto an oversized, spinning turntable. Think about the time you stood in this same spot and watched your favourite band (Camp Cope, 2016), or observed as the crowd descended into mayhem (DZ Deathrays, 2015).
“We’re still getting, ‘It’s a travesty’, but all that would have happened is Newtown Social Club would have closed down,” says Michael Schreiber, Funlab CEO. “Things change and move on. Our preference was to be in the CBD, but it was hard to find a space. We needed to find a venue that we could rebirth, that already had appropriate licensing in place, and this came up.”
The layout of the venue is largely the same. The beer garden is untouched, the stage is in tact (it’s now The Stage Dive hole) and the sign out the front remains (outlining names of courses – Ain’t Nothin’ Butt a Hound Dog, Grave Situation – rather than artists). Novelty props, upside-down photographs and sections of Astroturf have been added. Colourful lights complement the disco ball that still hangs from the ceiling in the front room.
Downstairs, the dining room has become Take a Bao. It serves six types of steamed buns available to order alongside Asian-inspired snacks, such as spicy Korean chicken wings and waffle fries with miso mayo. Cocktails are colourful: some are topped with sour lollies, others have been made into snow cones (Negroni, Frosé and Pina Colada). All can be served to share in a large silver trophy cup.
Holey Moley has been a big success in Brisbane and Melbourne, and despite its contentious backstory, it’s likely to triumph in Sydney, too. It’s light-hearted, colourful and undeniably fun – sip your novelty cocktail and try not to think about it too much.