There were a few years there when the Kings Arms played a large part in my social life. I drank there, I perved at hot tattooed boys there, and I’m sure I ended a few evenings throwing up in or around the toilets there.
My memories of the Kings Arms mostly revolve around the handful of years I spent going to see local bands; Hardcore shows, Punk, Indie, Emo, Hipster-Rock, I frequented them all. Now that I’m older, I’m not going to pretend that I really cared about the music, or the artistic intent of any of those bands. I went along for one to three of the following reasons; to support my friends who played in the aforementioned bands, to drinks lots of booze and run around like a spastic, and/or to philander about the place, which was my favourite pass time ages 15-31. The Kings Arms facilitated all three of these goals whilst also offering me a variety of social circles in which to insert myself at a time when I still cared about how cool I was , or how cool other people thought I was. Getting all dressed up in whatever look I was going for at the time and knocking back a large amount of Dutch courage gave me the opportunity to mask my Titanic insecurities and quiet the booming anxious voice in my head long enough to speak to people I found attractive, those higher on the social hierarchy than I and maybe even feel a tiny grain of power over the swirling vortex than is life in your early 20’s.
Back in my day the toilets didn’t look as cool as they did when it closed. The street-style art works across all the walls and stalls were all new to me when I visited the venue for the last time a couple weeks back.
The week following it’s final night, a work friend and I attended the viewing preceding the auction of every chattel the Kings Arms had to sell. I’m not just talking about the selling off the speakers and the bar stools. They ended up ripping chunks off the toilet walls and selling them to interested punters. At the auction my colleagues managed to snap an awesome mid-90’s cigarette machine, complete with cock-logo sticker and years of built up grim. And a set of exquisite women’s toilet stall doors [3 in total]. The graffiti on these doors tells more about a sub-set of Auckland culture better than any academic prose ever could.
These days, the loss of the Kings Arms will not affect my personal life in any way. I am now old, tired, happily married and unable to drink more than two beers without getting a killer migraine, meaning that every reason I had to visit the Kings Arms is now void. But I’m still sad that it is gone. In part due to my own weighty nostalgia, but also because the removal of this wonderful grubby, sticky little bolthole will stop any other people, young or old, from having the opportunity to attend a gig played by their friend’s band, who are terrible but beloved, downing far more bourbon and cokes than the Health Department deems acceptable, flirting with some guy just to catch that spark of interest in his eye when you say something witty, the acceptance of which will feed your damaged self esteem for a few days at least, then making out with aforementioned boy after eating too many Golden Cheese Grain Waves purchased from the Shell station on Khyber Pass because you didn’t get around to having dinner.
These are the ridiculous memories that have taught me how to be a person in the world, often due to doing the wrong thing and learning better from it, but also having the opportunity to be a young person without many responsibilities, free to learn about social interaction, relationships, sex and fractured drunk friendship. I feel grateful that I had safe [enough] places like the Kings Arms to test my own bullshit and learn how to, as the toilet door so succinctly states “Stop being cunts, for fucks sake”.
Cleanliness : 4.5/10 Hahaha nah, that was never important here.
Interior : 5/10 Three toilet stalls for that many women meant you were always waiting for some girl and her friend to finish snorting whatever from the filthy surfaces of the stall interior . The bowls were often broken, as were the paper dispensers. The supply of loo paper never made it to the end of the night. God forbid that you were straight edge or sober enough to care about drip drying by the time closing came around.
Exterior : 8/10 The position of the Kings Arms was one of it’s best features. Close enough to what used to be cheap flatting areas to stumble home with your gaggle of mates, with a beer garden every other establishment tried for years to emulate. The toilets were near the front door, but also quite near the stage which meant you had to wade through a mass of steaming bodies just to join the toilet queue. In any other situation this would be a huge negative, but when the object of your affection is standing between you and the bathroom, you have the blessed opportunity to appropriately graze your body across his as you squeeze through the throng making a night of yearning seem totally worthwhile.
Safety : 8/10 No bar is ever safe. Alcohol plus humans equals the possibility of violence and stupidity at all times. But when it comes to skanky bars making you feel like you’re in danger at all times, The Kings Arms did a good job of making their toilets as unpredatory as you could rightly hope.
Snugglitude : 10/10 It was a gross old sports bar that morphed into a sticky venue filled with hormones, drink and memories. No life altering events happened to me there but I spent too much money and many happy hours buzzing about with a full head of steam up, enjoying the opportunity to have my anxiety silenced by drinking for a few short hours. And for that I am thankful.
Total : 35.5/50