Byron Bay: Cheeky Monkeys
For some, Byron Bay’s Cheeky Monkeys is often mistaken for heaven. For others, it is akin to the depths of hell. Irrespective of your viewpoint, it is undeniable that this backpackers’ bar is by far the most notorious in all of Australia, if not the world. Evoking images of table dancing, beer-stained clothing and its infamous wet t-shirt competitions, Cheeky Monkeys is absolutely thronging with people every single night of the week. And despite its patrons’ differing backgrounds and nationalities, for the most part, they all share one common goal: getting lucky.
I myself have ventured to Cheeky Monkeys on many an occasion. I have fond memories of my friends and I getting kicked out for stealing beers from over the bar, being hit by a taxi outside during a flash flood, ingesting illicit substances in the disabled bathroom with the middle-aged bouncer and hooking up with boys so gap toothed they whistled when they breathed. But by far my most memorable evening was when I poured enough booze down my newly fake-breasted friend Ash’s throat to convince her to get her twins wet and share the beauties with the world.
Nomads Backpackers was our choice of accommodation, which – despite charging an extortionate $33 to share a room with nine others per night – is an utter luxury compared to most hostels. The beds and bathrooms are clean – free of bed bugs, cum-stains and tinea – and there is a large communal binge-drinking area. Bear in mind that like most backpackers in Byron Bay, Nomads will offer tempting drink and entry deals to other clubs, such as Lala Land or Coco Mangas, but do not be sucked in by this ploy. It is just a pathetic attempt to pull customers, as all other venues are unable to compete against Cheeky Monkeys without perks.
We arrived at our destination at around 9pm, though as usual no one can really remember queuing up and getting inside. I have heard entry can sometimes be $5, but I believe we were successful in pretending it was one of our hens nights, arguing with (and flashing) whoever was on the door until they conceded to let us in for free. After less than hour of being there, it was packed to the rafters with lecherous youths keen for a perve. Ash and her fellow competitors took the stage in white t-shirts, most of which had been tastefully customised with scissors to be made even sluttier.
Because I’m a creep, I was standing right next to the stage, so was lucky enough to be selected as water girl. What an honour. The host gave me a bucket of cold water and two pint glasses to inflict as much damage as I could. The premise was simple: I was to drown each competitor’s breasts in water, and they would then have 30 seconds to strut their stuff and wow the crowd. Whoever got the loudest cheer would win. The performances ranged in calibre and style from awkwardly dry-humping the air to Katy Perry’s ‘Kissed a Girl’ to more professional dirty dancing routines from girls who have clearly watched a lot more porn than I have.
Needless to say, when up against competitors who had obviously been backpacking for a long time (i.e. they were 10-20 kilos heavier than their normal weight due to a diet of goon and kebabs – it happens), our tanned, toned and tremendous-tittied gal pal was a joint winner, and as such was then subject to a tie-breaker. Unfortunately, despite being the only one to strip down to just her g-string and cheekily reveal her nips on numerous occasions, Ash’s Pommy rival ended up getting a louder cheer from the 99% British crowd, which was devastating for us as that was a $300 bar tab down the drain. Nevertheless, she was still was pulled up by the local police when walking home at 3am, who simply said to her, “You really should have won, you know.” So professional.
There is no such thing as a bad night at Cheeky Monkeys. Once inside, you will be greeted with a dark wooden interior that looks kind of like the inside of a ship, an analogy that is furthered by the permanent dampness and the mingling scent of rum and vomit that permeates the air. At 9pm, it is still possible to walk around, but by 11pm, expect to be able to raise your feet off the ground and be carried by the crowd to the sultry sounds of shitty classics like ‘I Come from a Land Down Under’. My only warnings: don’t lean over the No Requests sign and ask the DJ to play a song; and if you are in a (monogamous) relationship, be extremely wary of your well being. I was almost bashed by an Irish boy this one time I was there when I neglected to succumb to his overtly sexual advances at the bar on the basis that I had a boyfriend. “Well what the fuck are you doing here then?!” he asked disgustedly.
You may end up with a large chunk of your memory missing, you may sustain serious internal injuries from falling off the tables, you may greet the morning with a lot less dignity than you went out with and you may wake up being spooned by a foreigner (whom you’ve illegally snuck into your dorm and squished into your single bunk bed), but the experiences you will have at Cheeky Monkeys will stay with you forever. As will the diseases you might contract there.