I loved Pokémon as a kid, and I will always have a space in my heart for the lovable-yet-kind-of-creepy little monsters who are only able to vocalise their own names. Friday July 24th may have been just a normal winter evening for some, but for others it was a time to descend upon the promised land of Melbourne’s Beta Bar for a beer-fuelled Poképarty extravaganza. Yes, Melbourne did host a Pokémon party. Yes, it was magical.
We walked in and were immediately surrounded by flashing lights and walking life-size Pokémon. It was also at this point that I found myself wishing I had taken some LSD. I began to explore all the magical pokéland had to offer. Beta Bar was bigger than I had anticipated, and it was divided into tiny subtopias of demon monster goodness. People were playing Pokémon on old school Nintendo 64s and Gameboys in quieter corners while heated trading card battles took place in the more adequately lit areas of the bar.
’90s music played throughout as hundreds of Pokémon enthusiasts mingled until the early hours of the morning. The vibe was a warm mixture of friendly social awkwardness. Strangers brought together and accepted for who they were. A strange concoction of Japanime-induced hippy-esque kumbaya drum circle affection. Come as you are my friend, it’s all love here.
After watching a couple of cider-fuelled grown men in Pikachu cosplay passionately singing karaoke, it was time for a drink. Navigating our way past mid-dance floor Nintendo DS battles and pushing past Jinx cosplayers, we eventually managed to proceed through to the bar. Like a moth to the flame, my eyes were drawn to a blue and red concoction being made by the bartender. My friend wanted a beer, so naturally I ordered two pokédrinks.
We met people playing Pokémon monopoly and saw people eating Japanese Pokémon cookies which expired in 2001. And it seemed that no matter where you looked there was a damn Pikachu staring back at you. At one point I remember looking around and wondering what all these people did in the daylight hours of their lives. Were they happy? Hell, who cares? Maybe I was just drunk, or maybe the fleeting nature of human emotion was irrelevant amongst the sea of costume-wearing smiling man-children. In short, it was as if I had died and gone to nerd heaven.
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