I’ve heard so much about goon. It seems to be a right of passage among backpackers in Australia. Apparently you haven’t really experienced a session in Oz unless it’s a session with goon. Some love it. Some hate it. Some absolutely loathe the day they set eyes on it.
Goon is basically really really cheap wine in a bag. It’s sweet, cheap and well…cheap! We had a house party in our place in Sydney and I saw the effects of goon on some of the Aussies there. I chuckled and shook my head. No one knows how to session like the Irish.
It was one faithful night in Byron Bay that I first tried goon. As I stood in the offie (or bottle-o as the Aussies call it), I looked in dismay at the price of the alcohol. Twenty-four dollars for a six-pack of my good ole’ reliable beer. Twenty-seven dollars for vodka! Then I spotted it. Boxed in all its cheap glory, stacked high in towers, two litres for ten dollars. Sure look, what’s the worst that could happen.
We returned to the hostel swinging our bags of goon. I pulled out two tumbler glasses (yes, very classy) and turned the nozzle on the bag. It was lukewarm and very, very sweet. But it went down like a treat. We stood on the balcony of the hostel making conversation with every passerby. Looking back it wasn’t as much “making conversation” as it was roaring lovely comments at bewildered strangers. When we found willing participators, we trickled goon out of the bag, trying to aim for their open mouths. Each time failed miserably, resulting in a few ruined Saturday night outfits!
We were well and truly under the goon spell by 9pm and ready to hit the town. We made a bleary effort to keep up with the crowd but lost them quickly. As we wondered through the town trying to decide which bar was best to empty our wallets in, we came across a fun looking joint on a balcony.
Following the music we came to a backdoor with a tall bouncer standing at the door smoking. “Is there a cover charge in?, I asked as I reached for my I.D. The bouncer giggled, shook his head and stepped out of the way of the door.
Probably the first time in my life I haven’t been I.D’d, I strutted up the steps to the venue, my goon soaked confidence soaring. I grinned to Darren and commented “How weird is it there’s carpeted steps here?!”.
As soon as we entered the bar I became a bit uneasy about my hoodie and flip flops. This was obviously an exclusive bar with a very cool scene. It was small crowd but there was a live band belting out a Kings of Lion and double doors opening to a balcony lit up with fairy lights. This was a seriously cool venue!!
After getting chatting to some locals, I found everyone to be very friendly! They kept asking “who are you?” and “why are you here?”. To which I spewed out my whole life story about how I quit my job in Ireland, packed my belongings, hopped on a plane and “now I’m here talking to you lovely people”.
After settling into a conversation with a group of surfers I became increasingly aware of how I didn’t have a drink in my hand. I threw out the question “So where’s the bar?”. There was laughter and everyone continued to sip there bottles. “No seriously,” I said, “Where’s the bar?”.
“There is none”, someone looked replied with a “is this girl crazy?” look on his face. “But I think the bottle-o might be still open”.
I tried to steady my goon-filled head and peered around. Everyone was chatting and nodding along to the band. Everyone seemed to know each other. Things were slowly, slowly starting to dawn on me. I craned my neck, looking for a waitress or someone to take my drink order. “Do you work here?”, I asked tapping some ransomed on the shoulder. Another “Is this girl crazy?” look.
“What’s the name of this place anyway?”, I questioned some long-haired dude. He flashed a white smile and replied “You do know this is a house party right? I don’t know how you got in here but this isn’t a bar.”
I twirled around frantically looking for Darren. It was all coming together. The “bouncer”? Just some guy having a smoke outside! The carpeted steps, the small room, the KITCHEN?! We were in someone’s house and we clearly were not invited! Even in my goon state I knew this was mortifying. How do we make an exit without drawing more attention to ourselves?
There was absolutely no way of coming back from this. We made our apologies, clapped as the band finished their song, then skipped along of merry-gooned way.
And that was my first experience drinking goon.