Marrickville has a secret. Most nights of the week in the nondescript back streets near Sydenham station, you can find the best of alternative music and arts in Sydney at the Red Rattler.
When I imagined my life as an insecure teen growing up in the Blue Mountains, there was a certain level of big smoke action happening in my dreams. People would be wearing outlandish outfits and only talk about Kafka. Venues would swim in a blue light, red-walled haze.
And just when I had despaired of ever finding this dream place, Red Rattler waltzed into my life.
It was exactly what I had imagined. A sea of couches and soft lighting, with trendy, but not too trendy types walking around while folkies get ready to hit (in a distinctly soft, folkie way) the stage. Three different kinds of soup are on offer. It even has a nice clean skin beer (endearingly called Rat's Piss) on tap. The nine to five grind evaporates in the face of the charming genteel socialism. As shown in these photos, you can just sink into the warmth of the collective .
Red Ratter is a not-for-profit endeavour and has a cooperative feel. Its manifesto is to support the local artistic community, and provide an inviting space for people to perform and exhibit. It's a gem of the Sydney scene, where too often pokies have made their insidious way into the surroundings.
So if you're a fan of drinking on a couch, listening to music that will invariably involve a banjo or piano accordion and the colour red, you should be hanging at the Red Rattler.
Huzzah: The great music and the artsy vibe. The potato soup is warm and comforting.
Bummer: Beers are $4.50. I know that's reasonable but I love the old $3 student special at Bar Broadway
Not for: people who like having their seat guaranteed. The couches are comfy but tend to fill up pretty quickly.