Editorial: Barring oldies is over the hill

By Annemarie Quill

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"You're never too old to rock and roll if you're too young to die," sang legendary rockers Jethro Tull. If you know who Jethro Tull are, you are too old for Tauranga's Temple Bar.

On Monday, Julia Proverbs reported how 39-year-old Justin Allan says he was turned away from the bar last Saturday for being "too old". The story taps into a collective angst. This morning, it was the most popular story on bayofplentytimes.co.nz.

It's bad enough there comes a day when we outgrow party rock. Suddenly the music is too loud, the drinks overpriced, and the people around us seem loony.

No one wants to have this pointed out in public. There are things in life far worse than being turned away from a bar for being "too old". But right now I can't think of any.

Although now my idea of a good night is watching the news in peace with the kids tucked up, I am not ready to hang up my stilettos. Like Justin Allan, many of us have happily left hard partying behind but just because we are too old for alcopops and leather shorts doesn't mean we are ready for Complan and Depend pants.

The incident doesn't bode well for Tauranga's hospitality and tourist industry, particularly when the bar's owner, Glenn Meikle, adopts a blase stance towards his bouncer's actions.

While bouncers' power trips are legendary the world over, Mr Allan is right that being banned for age is a human rights issue. Bar owners and security staff are within rights to stop someone entering a venue because they are intoxicated, disorderly or do not reach dress standard, not because of sex, race, religion - or age.

Mr Allan may have had a lucky escape. The bar last year topped the list of New Zealand's worst pubs for selling the last drink to people who go on to commit alcohol-fuelled crimes, and was forced to close for a period last year by the Liquor Licensing Authority.

Bars which cater only to a young crowd do more than hurt the pride of anyone not born in the nineties. They fuel a community where youth drinking to oblivion is given a licence and a bunch of heavies on the door.

From an economic perspective, the incident highlights the lack of decent venues in Tauranga for a more sophisticated - and more monied - crowd who like to socialise without bumping into their teenage daughter's friends.

For a city about to host the 50th Tauranga Jazz Festival, is our hospitality industry prepared for the 60,000 people coming for the party?

Tauranga should take notes from other growing cities such as Perth and Auckland where people of all ages are catered for and welcomed in classier venues than bars such as the Temple.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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