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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

Topless bar owners urged to ‘expose themselves’

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The vice-president of Byron’s tourism organisation VIA Byron has urged the owners of a ‘topless’ bar to ‘come out from behind the shadows of a Gold Coast post office box’.

Ben Kirkwood told Echonetdaily, ‘I’d like to know what exactly is going on. If the operator feels like what they’re doing is the right business there’s nothing to be ashamed of and if the rumours are exaggerated I’d encourage them to engage with the community, the business association and the liquor accord’.

Mr Kirkwood, who owns the awarded Beach Cafe in Byron Bay, said he had heard rumours ‘for a couple of weeks and different people had told me about the topless bar at the old La Playa site’.

But he said he thought they were ‘too far fetched to be true given the current climate’.

‘Then I heard Simon Richardson on the ABC and realised it was happening.

‘We approached the Liquor Accord and Byron United (chamber of commerce) – and they seemed to be in the dark. Council also weren’t aware,’ he said.

He added that VIA Byron decided it was time ‘to stand up take some leadership and say this is not the right business in the current climate with violence on the street and protecting values of the community that this is not an appropriate business to be coming into Byron’.

Mr Kirkwood was also concerned about ‘the fact that this has all been so hushed up: the fact the licence goes back to a PO box on the Gold Coast without an identity as to who’s behind it. It all raises more questions than it answers,’ he said.

Earlier this week Echonetdaily was contacted by a caller anonymously, who claimed to have an association with the owners and who said ‘the whole town has got it wrong; the venue is not a topless bar, it’s a going to be burlesque-themed bar-restaurant’.

When this was put to Mr Kirkwood, he said ‘burlesque in itself I’ve got no problem with’.

‘My concern is more about the sexualisation of women in a traditional topless bar and what that might do: a male-dominated environment, overpriced drinks and then putting them onto the street sexually charged up. That’s not what we want it to be and not what we want Byron to be seen as.’

He added that ironically the venue could be benefiting from the publicity around its imminent opening.

‘It could be argued it they’re getting good publicity, such as the recent full-page picture on the front of the Northern Star,’ he said.

The caller told Echonetdaily that the venue had yet to open, because of ‘paperwork issues’.

Yesterday local media reported that the Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing had not received an application for a licence at the site.


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  1. I’m having a bit of a chuckle. While I wouldn’t frequent a ‘topless bar’ in Byron or anywhere else, since when do topless women in a restaurant engender violence? In free-thinking, supposedly non-judgemental Byron, moralising about a possible topless bar, goes against the grain for me. I’ll bet if Muslims objected to a topless bar on religious grounds, you’d defend the bar owners rights to open up whatever venue they want in a country like Australia where there is a reasonable separate of state and religion. The fact that the licence goes to a nameless PO box, because it’s obviously what the law allows, surely protects the owners right to privacy, if that’s what they want at the moment. Like me, if people don’t want to go to a topless bar, they won’t go. If the town and its visitors don’t want the bar for whatever reason, then the business will fail. It’s that simple.

  2. TYPO – in previous: my comment should read:

    People who employ topless workers should be bottomless employers! That’s fair!

  3. What is it with the influx of Gold Coast business people and developers ( some with shady pasts) ? Let’s hope it is all above board.And let’s hope the bikies don’t come back to town like they did in large numbers in the 80s and 90s scaring the town folk and tourists.

  4. i dont think the mayor or anyone else for that matter can take high moral ground on this ..or preach what is anatomically correctness.it has nothing to do with sex..
    Ive been to a few topless bars and after the initial 10/20 second shock,just like topless beaches it is just business as usual I remember being a member of martins bar in sydney in the 70s/80s ..everyone was treated with respect, both male and female employees actually enjoyed working there and felt it a form of liberated expression..IMO the human body both male and female should be revered, hide your breasts if you want, show a little bit if you want, show all of your breasts if you want regardless of size,shape or how many you have, and would i want my mother/father or son/daughter or brother/sister to work there..yes if they wanted to bare their breasts ..why not? seriously guys if anything.. its sexual repression that causes rapes etc.not sexual expression and byron bays statistics on sexual assaults aren’t exactly squeaky clean they are as suppressed as the violence stats…if you dont like art dont go to art galleries if you dont like topless bars dont go there… simple…but to tell people what is morally right…I dont think so.. generally people that go on moral crusades are found to be clandestinely immoral..

  5. Byron night life has already been trashed to the point where many locals simply don’t bother to venture out at night anymore. Getting the hoards drunk as possible en masse and squeezing the dollars out of them has become the town’s cash cow. This kind of business is perfectly suited. It’s just what the town needs isn’t it? Somewhere for all the drunks to go and drool over topless women at 2 am after a night of hard drinking. As usual the town’s alcohol industry powers on and this is the entertainment to match. Perfect for the brainless pissed morons who now fill our streets at night. Just one more reason I avoid Byron as much as I can these days.

  6. Now come on people. We know that we can walk down the beach and see a females breast in Byron. Ever been to France ? Bunch of conservative hypocrites. Let people have some fun. Whats needed to solve the drunkin idiot issue is enforce laws that are already in place.

  7. As a local young women I have been appalled by the state of the street after dark on Friday and Saturday nights. I have been approached by drunken men constantly who say they have just arrived from Brisbane or the Gold Coast and have been treated with sexist comments. I like to party and I like to meet new people but it is obvious to any local that Byron is becoming the new Gold Coast in atmosphere and crowd and it’s not for the better.

  8. I think ‘John’ and ‘Andy McGlone’ are completely missing the point. People objecting to this aren’t objecting on “moral” grounds. It’s about this modern, progressive, egalitarian, peace loving community trying to project an image that properly reflects itself. Topless bars are an anachronism steeped in the power relationships of the 1950’s. Don’t excuse (and confuse) exploitation as freedom.

  9. @ james you almost make a point but tell me who isnt being exploited ? and who isnt exploiting certain situations?..i personally like to see womens breasts..there i admit it..wether i frequent a local topless bar is entirely up to me..thats the point..if you find it repugnant dont go. you can sit with fred nile in his weirdo abstinence..personally i wanted a dan murphys bottle shop as well but a few louder people with vested interests got their way.no major dramas.”an anachronism of the 50s” I dont think so mate 50s was the least liberal decade of the last century .except the victorian one…i cant believe 2013 we are still having this conversation… john howard really done a job on you guys turning back the clock…as far as peace loving modern egalitarian…i went to the wikileaks (peace loving) pre election seminar there were 40-50 people they would have tripled that in ballina and quadrupled it on the gold coast..byron is a baby boomer yuppy town no more no less and any values it may have held in the past have been eroded 20 years ago…im not saying bring on the gold coast Im saying there is nothing wrong with womens breasts.in fact my mother had them and my daughters and sisters also..and their are 7 billion of them on the planet…but if they dont have a topless bar here in byron im fine with that too ….just dont like people taking the moral high ground in fact find it repulsive and duplicitous.


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