Monday, April 6, 2009


It was the night Ugly Early turned ugly late. Ugly Early are a hugely popular local band (4 guitars, drums, and violin) who play classic rock – Hendrix, Stones and more with their own Timorese twist to it. If I can find a CD, I’ll buy it, and if I can find a clip (and someone was filming last night), I’ll seek permission to link to it.

The band was due to start at 9:30 but despite having done a sound check earlier in the night, ran into all sorts of tech troubles. Eventually the place rocked out and we all had a great time. Heineken was plentiful and everyone was having a good time. After the band had finished we were just getting ready to go when a bit of pushing and shoving between some Timorese started.

Security moved in to separate people but weren’t having much luck. Some people started picking up sticks but malae like myself persuaded them to put them down again. I think it was a relief for some to be able to say that they were going to support their brothers, but a malae stopped them. It seemed that we had calmed things down, but anyone who’s ever seen a bar brawl knows that the first thing about them is some idiot won’t take no for an answer. Generally another idiot will call him on it.

That was pretty much the case. Things escalated again. People were hitting people with chairs, punches were being thrown and lots of unsuccessful effort was going into trying to separate the parties. This time I stayed well clear – many faces were quite devoid of reason and voices were brimming with alcohol and anger.

One camp had been pushed and jostled out of the bar (which is open to the air) and the other camp (which included the owner) remained inside. A bottle came flying in, followed by stones. There was a funny noise and something hit the roof. Someone said a gun, but I’ve never heard one that sounded like that. By this stage, anyone with brains was sheltering behind the speakers or other convenient places. I made my way from there to behind the bar, and then to the back kitchen. I also called the cops, only to find that others had done so before me.

Eventually they arrived and restored order. That took time in itself. It didn’t appear anyone was too badly hurt, and eventually they let us go. They wanted someone to come down to the station to make a statement about what caused the fight. I begged off as I still don’t know the proximate cause or, as was of more interest to the police, who threw the first punch. Some left earlier, but I was a bit concerned that although this had been a strictly Timorese affair, roadblocks and other hazards could be on the cards. Despite the excitement, I hadn’t been in any real danger all night, and I wanted to keep it that way.

Eventually I got home at about 3:30, stiff and aching and tense, owing someone 4 Melbourne Bitters as taxi fare. I wanted a massage, but the only options I know for massages in this town are the physiotherapist and some of the beauty shops, unlikely to be open at that hour, and a karaoke/massage bar. Hmmm, perhaps not. So I went to bed.

I fell asleep at about 4. My alarm went off around 6. Someone rang about 8, breathless with the news of the fight. Eventually at about 10:30 I dragged myself out of bed. I look like hell today.

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