Back in 1982 (when I was a very young 13 year old), I once spent a very uncomfortable night at a Blue Light Disco held at the Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre. The source of my discomfort wasn’t solely because there were GIRLS!!! there, or that I was expected to talk to GIRLS!!! and ask them for a dance.
The main source of my discomfort was the realisation that I would never be able to convincingly wear a yellow or pink woollen jumper like the cool boys (and they were dancing with GIRLS!!!). I remember trying to articulate this frustration about my fashion choices to my parents, but just like my feeble attempts to talk to GIRLS!!!, it ended up being an incoherent mumble. I have stayed away from pink woollen jumpers since that night.
Jimmy Barnes played the Leisure Centre in 1986 – I couldn’t afford a ticket so a mate and I hung outside pretending we were cool and liked all of Jimmy Barnes’ songs (especially Flame Trees). I couldn’t grow a mullet and didn’t have a flanny shirt, so my fashion choices quickly highlighted my outsider status to the other patrons. We trudged home, happy in the knowledge that Flame Trees is a really stupid song anyway and we didn’t want go to the stupid concert anyway.
In what has proved to be the loudest concert I have ever attended (my ears were still ringing 2 days later), I saw Hoodoo Gurus at the Leisure Centre on a freezing winters night in 1987. Brad Shepherd was in all his rock-godly-hirsute-sweaty-glory that night, but the drummer was brutal. The power he got from the bass drum was astounding-sitting here now I can still remember how it felt crashing against my chest. There were no dodgy fashion choices that night (well, maybe. It was the 80s after all).
The Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre was an integral part of my community growing up. I vaguely remember the opening of the centre, but I know I attended many events at that venue as I was growing up. Someone once broke into my car (causing $400 worth of damage to get the $6 in coin in the centre console) so they too could pay the entrance fee to the computer fair that was being held there, highlighting how important it was to the community. Eventually I moved to another suburb, so the Leisure Centre receded from my view.
And I guess, that is the problem right there – the importance of this facility receded from many peoples’ view.
The ex-mayor has now been vocal in his disappointment of the demolition (despite toeing the corporate line as mayor), but that is too little too late. The decision has, rightly or wrongly, been made and cannot be unmade.
I’m sad that the Leisure Centre is going to be demolished, but not surprised. The last time I went there, two or three years ago, it was obvious that the upkeep had been neglected. I don’t whether this was a deliberate strategy or just one of those budgetary things.
I also don’t fully understand why the Leisure Centre could not be incorporated into the new Aquatic Centre plans – there is no other facility like it on the southern side of the city. I believe that is a huge mistake, but that is a post for another day.
Vale Kangaroo Flat Leisure Centre. Thanks for the memories (and the slight case of tinnitus).