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You don't need to leave dry land to join a rowdy round of sea shanties at a Redfern local
It’s a tough gig motivating a Monday night crowd. The weekend is done, you’ve survived one fifth of the working week and there’s some pretty good TV on. Turns out the secret to early week attendance is giving people the opportunity to bellow their lungs out to the chorus of ‘Bound for Botany Bay’. At 9pm the Dock in Redfern only has a smattering of people nursing a Kingpin double red ale or a five-dollar tinny. Thirty minutes later, the weekly Shanty Club party has kicked off – and you’d be hard pressed to squeeze another body in the door.
Shanty Club started in Berlin when Sydney comedian Carlo Ritchie invited a Canadian sailor and an Australian architect over for a lamb dinner. Booze was drunk, songs were sung and so much fun was had they decided to make it a weekly tradition. Once it became too big for Ritchie’s kitchen it found a home in a local bar, and then accompanied Ritchie back to Australia where the Dock decided they were up for hosting some melodic landlubbers. The club has struck a chord with Redfern residents and a fair portion of the university and comedy scene. Each week all and sundry bunk in together to clap, holla and fumble their way through renditions of ‘Barrett’s Privateers’, ‘Molly Malone’, ‘Spanish Ladies’, ‘Haul Away Joe’, ‘The Shores of Botany Bay’, ‘Don’t Forget Your Old Shipmates and ‘Seven Drunken Nights’. Ritchie and his assistants – mostly local musos and comedians – take care of the verses, but once the crowd gets a handle on the chorus they just about blow the roof off the place. Who knew Monday nights could be this much fun?
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