Down The Hatch Market City Tavern, Haymarket, City

Text: Kye M.R. Bleaux-Hall

If I ever die (I’m not planning on it, but I may be unlucky) I hope this is what my heaven looks like. A hidden gem but hidden in plain sight, jutting out of Market City above the Paddy’s entrance where the fruit is, the Market is three storeys of gaming lounge glitz; neon carpet and bright surfaces and fake plants and TV screens and the joyful chirping and singing and clicking of the machines that we know are no good but my oh my, don’t they just make the décor pop?

Of all the addictions I’ve been handed, gambling has never been one of them, and for that I’m grateful, not least because it means I can truly enjoy the warm welcome of a shining, sirenic gaming lounge without the danger. Behavioural psychologists are responsible for all of this, I’ve read. It’s incredibly evil, but it sure looks pretty.

People look down their noses at a place like this, and that’s good, because it means you can always find a seat and some solitude, and know that those kinds of people aren’t going to bother you. The Market is a sanctuary for lost souls like me. The soundtrack of a chorus of pokie machines can effectively drown out whatever it is you don’t want to think about just now. I call on their assistance in this regard very often.  

These days in rugby league circles, you’ll hear people say that betting is ruining the game. I think they’re partly right, full agreement only withheld because I think it’s a game that takes a lot to ruin. The point is that it’s becoming more of an influence in our enjoyment and we’re starting to care more about odds and results than the brutal, violent beauty that wholly transfixed us in the game’s yesteryears. Which, in my opinion, was partly informed by the repressed Australian masculine desire to know the firm flesh of another man. The game just isn’t gay enough anymore.

A good gaming lounge is likewise camp beyond its awareness, and the Market City Tavern is glitz and glamour and gayer than Mardi Gras. Liberace couldn’t have dreamt it up. It’s an assault on the senses like a loving punch to the heart. Wander up the curving staircase, take in each level, and give in to its garish bacchanalia. Drinks are pretty cheap and time stands still to let you enjoy them, and not just because there aren’t many clocks (see above: behavioural psychologists). Here you can live a Vegas fantasy without having to feed a single machine. A good bar should be transportative like that. Sydney loves themed bars, we blow our loads for themed bars, but the best kind are the ones that don’t even know they’re themed. They just are. The Market City Tavern just is.

There’s also a big roof terrace up top that no-one knows about unless they’ve been brought along by someone else in the know, and so the circle of life continues. It’s very nice at sunset.


Sign up to our newsletter, Word on the Street, for your weekly dose of news, features, and culture direct from your neighbourhood.

* Mandatory Privacy Policy