Fremantle Stuff > Clubs > Fly By Night Club

Fly By Night Club

Army Drill Hall, Holdsworth Street (Parry Street), 1896 (building) 1986 (club)


Gary Burke writes:

The name was an invention of Micko O’Byrne. It was the fruit of an initiative of John Dawkins, responding to a request from a group of us (including Scott Wise and John Reed, Simon Tarrant and Daniel Seagull) who wanted something done to protect us from the cultural imperialism of the America’s Cup. Jo O’Sullivan advised John about it, and John Catlin, who had previously taught at John Curtin High School, (having done his teaching practice at the Community School) was put in charge of it (and apologies to those whose contributions have been left out of this first attempt). Twenty thousand dollars was allocated, of which ten went to admin and ten to foster gigs, I think. Needless to say it didn’t go very far.
We set up a board which eventually became incorporated. I was the inaugural treasurer. Lucky Oceans and Peter Grandison were involved. The first co-ordinator was a lady named Liz Scott and John put untold hours into making banners and sets to dampen the sound and make the place look cosy. It was hot in summer and cold in winter.
I think we had a smoking free zone policy from Day 1 — quite radical in those days.
Ian Parmenter, Louisa Wise, Duncan Campbell and Robyn Johnston et al. were the drivers behind the 'Bathers Beach Glee Club' which had regular-ish concerts with many ABC radio guests — Murray Jennings, Peter Holland, and John …. (who ran the Sunday morning gardening show on 6WF). The BBGC was loosely based on Garrison Keillor’s 'Prairie Home Companion' show on American public radio. For Scott and me the model we aspired to was the Preservation Hall venue in New Orleans. The idea was to have local talent in an essentially acoustic venue — thus avoiding the noise issues for nearby residents. Simon Tarrant ran the PA, and operated his Freo PA business out of what became the small Fly Trap venue.
There was some significant talent involved from ABC — Peter Holland, Murray Jennings, John Caldwell, Robyn Johnston — and some quirky but excellent talent — a lady who played the musical saw, a bloke who could whistle and hum at the same time, quite intricately, for example rounds, but also two Bach tunes at once, and one of them going backwards at the same time! Duncan Campbell was musical director and dug out some great Australian popular classics, 'Back to Yackandanda', 'Wattle I do without you', etc. He prepared sheets and it was very funny. 
Needless to say, we lost the acoustic low volume theme; the local emphasis gave way to special interest outside artists (eg Warren Zevon) but at least it remained smoke free.
Peter Grandison ran the place for a long time, and gave heaps. They got a liquor licence and sponsorship from Guinness after a while.
At one point the police were going to close it down on account of noise complaints, but didn’t.
It was sad to hear that it has closed, but in terms of social dynamics, to cut the institution off from its roots made any other outcome not likely. They lost the plot. ... Gary Burke.

The building is an army drill hall built in 1896 for the use of what may have been at that time the Fremantle 1st Infantry Volunteer Regiment (aka Fremantle Infantry)  which was the final form of the Fremantle Volunteer Rifle Corps started by Captain Charles Finnerty in 1861, reformed as the Fremantle Rifle Volunteers in 1872, which became the Fremantle Rifle Volunteers Mounted Section … this, in 1893, was incorporated into the Fremantle Infantry.  Diane Oldman.

The building is now used by David Chitty and his organisation Sunset Events. It's now called Freo.Social.

References and Links

Many thanks to Gary Burke ... who was there.
And to Diane Oldman, for the details about Infantry.
Image from Wikipedia.

Garry Gillard | New: 24 January, 2019 | Now: 14 November, 2019