Family Bar

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12 reviews
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270 Karangahape Road,

(09) 309 0213

The ViewAuckland Review

Review byGuy Ralls16/03/2006

5 out of 5

It's a funny old law, the no-smoking one—making bars completely re-evaluate how they use their floor space.

As a result of it, Family Bar took the unusual step of recessing its entrance before opening last year, effectively turning over a bunch of square metres to K' Road's pavement.

The result was more than a smoking area, though. The small courtyard out front—the one that's lit by a neon jukebox and flashing fairy lights—was Family's way of wearing its heart on its sleeve. That heart was very colourful, and very, very gay.

I'd checked out Family before, from across the road while chugging on a shisha pipe outside a kebab house.

At that moment, it had singularly seemed to be K' Road's most happening spot, overflowing with sound, colour and seven-foot-tall fa’afafine wearing dresses and cowboy hats.

Not everyone's kind of place, perhaps, but a fun-looking one nonetheless. So, one Friday I sum up courage, drum up support and dive into a night at Family Bar.

The support had been lacking—nobody would come with me—but, in the end, I am glad to be flying solo.

I chat to people, and take in the place. Some of its tackiness (pokies, for example) comes from the venue’s former existence as a seedy bar. The rest, such as the tinselly karaoke stage, is new.

The décor is quite cool—moulded wall and funky lighting—and the bar staff are as friendly as you like.

I quickly work out that Family isn't just a gay bar; rather, it's an open-minded venue that, as the name suggests, is inclusive rather than exclusive. Then I start bumping into people I know.

First up are a couple of Euro girls who will remain nameless for the benefit of their male flatmate (he'd be gutted).

Then there's a fella I met at the theatre two days earlier, and Malcolm, whose house I'd nearly moved into.

The drinks are cheap; the company is good; there's a dance floor; hard house and a DJ who can mix. And there's a stage—onto which Euro girl # 1 leads the charge.

One minute that stage is empty; the next it’s full. The folks on it, whipped up by the DJ, whip up the crowd below. And at about this time, Family starts to go off.

We're kicked offstage for a show after a while—drag queens miming and dancing to Madonna. Then it's back on, with a crowd that's in very high spirits and, increasingly, into each other. It's quite an eye-opener.

At about three, I call time on the night, pay a final visit to the loo (options: Kings and Queens) and leave via the front courtyard. And, no word of a lie, I've had a royally good time.

Family Bar has been reviewed by 12 users

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