Jurassic Lounge Sydney – By Jessica Meddows
Museums are fun, but sedate, civilised fun.
My most recent museum expedition involved skeletons and dinosaurs, plus live pheromone dating reminiscent of Perfect Match circa 1988, “Velvet Elvis” cocktails, guide-dog puppies, and live music.
Civilised in a beard-stroking way, but not exactly sedate, as my stumbled walk home from the museum would suggest.
For two months, the Australian Museum in Sydney holds Jurassic Lounge:Extinction every Tuesday evening, offering your usual museum visit with food, drink and entertainment – because what would summer in Sydney be without bearded hipsters and copious amounts of alcohol?
Not to be outdone by the bars and pubs in neighbouring Surry Hills and Kings Cross, Jurassic Lounge holds end-of-the-world parties, with live music, comedians, burlesque performers, live science experiments and interactive arts and craft stalls.
Our Jurassic Lounge experience is entertaining, informative and slightly drunken, with delicious, but pricey food.
Though, if you’re not prepared, your JL night could be spent waiting in queues, hungry and sober.
We arrived before 6:00pm, as I get mild anxiety about arriving late for anything. I also get hanger – that anger you get when you’re hungry -and I’m a strict (read, annoying) vegetarian, so I need to know I can get my veggie food and not go starving. So our 6:00pm arrival works perfectly – we get tickets on the door despite not booking online; we get drinks and food easily without having to line up for a ridiculous amount of time; we get to see the usual museum exhibits and the special Jurassic Lounge entertainment before it gets too crowded; and we get to enjoy several drinks before the drinks lines become soberingly long.
Had we timed it an hour later, we would have had a long queue to get tickets, long food and drinks queues and possibly not much of a chance to see the entertainment – which doesn’t make for a good experience.
The food and drink specials are tasty and off-beat, but not exactly cheap. Though, this is my first outing in Sydney after living in the northern hemisphere for a while, so my shock at the prices was probably just forgetting how much you get gouged for food and drink in Sydney.
The menu changes between levels of the museum.
Downstairs has an American diner style menu. 1 option for $7 or 2 for $13 for mini chorizo hot dogs with chilli and aioli, peri-peri chicken burgers with cheese and cabbage slaw, smoked cheese croquettes with salsa agresto.
Desserts are vodka jelly cups ($6), and the five senses “Dessert Burger”.
We get the chicken burger, the croquettes for me, and a vodka jelly cup. The chicken burger, according to my carnivore husband, is pretty tasty, and the croquettes are satisfyingly crunchy but I would have liked more flavour from the salsa agresto, which promises more than it gives, with its vibrant green colour.
Neither of us was fussed on the vodka jelly cup and I think we were more taken in by the beauty of the rainbow jelly layers. Local and imported beers and ciders are available for $5-$8, and red and white wine is available for $7 per glass or $32 per bottle. We forego the beer and wine for the cocktail option – the Velvet Elvis (a well-spent $11), which is just about my favourite thing of the whole night. I usually hate Jack Daniels (though my husband adores it), but the Velvet Elvis is made from JD, Chambord, lime and lemonade – and fruity yet subtle and delicious. So much so, that I think I devour four of them that night.
Upstairs boasts a Mexicana Bar.
For $8 you can have spicy beef or Mexican jumping bean quesadillas, accompanied with jalapeno, cheese, guacamole and pico de gallo.
The beer and wine options are the same as downstairs, but the signature cocktail here is a margarita for $9.
I have a bean quesadilla and a margarita. I hate guacamole, but the chef is making the quesadillas in front of a queue of hungry people and she seems particularly stressed out, so I don’t request any variations, like I usually would, for fear she’ll yell at me. It’s like watching the tension of a professional kitchen out in the open and makes me a little tense as I wait for my food. The margarita is fine (it’s a frozen slushy style one, so nothing special), but I go back to the Elvis cocktails pretty quickly when we go back downstairs for the entertainment.
The servers run out of food quickly both upstairs and downstairs, and options become limited. (Indeed, we see the chef making the Mexican menu upstairs counting out her last quesadillas to the bar staff who seem to be ignoring her headcount and selling more items). As mentioned, being a picky vegetarian prone to hanger, I’m glad we got in early, ate first and I could retract my fangs and enjoy the entertainment with a Velvet Elvis assisted buzz.
After being fed and watered, we decide to suss out the entertainment and stalls and catch up with our friends.
Downstairs in the skeleton room it looks like Dr Seuss took a few tabs of acid and had his way with the furniture. Everything’s furry and psychedelic and slightly blurry looking (though, this could be the effect of the numerous Velvet Elvis’ I’ve had). The goodies are for sale — I didn’t catch the price of a furry flower or furry chair, but a furry lamp is $35.
Next door a band is setting up while we look at the photograph exhibition – I’m taken aback at how skillful the younger, primary school-aged submissions are — you’d think they were taken by professional adults if you didn’t know any better.
Upstairs the art and craft stalls and their interactive exhibitions are underway. There is tea tasting, screen painting, 3D printing and body art. And the cuteness almost kills me, but the NSW guide dog association is there with their guide dog pups. The line-up is huge, and I remind myself that I have cute dogs at home with my parents and I don’t need to spend an hour lining up to pat someone else’s dogs.
The highlight of the night, however, comes from the random public dating match-ups. Earlier on in the evening, single individuals could try out the pheromone dating. You basically had to sniff a smelly shirt (it smells like Lynx deodorant after a PE class, my friend says) and rate how hot you thought it was. Gross, right? Then later on that night, you put your name onto a card and put it into a box depending on whether you wanted to meet a man, or a woman, or go for a “lucky dip” (I want ALL THE DATES, we call it). Then, with every other single person and their eager friends, you sit cross legged in the museum’s largest space like primary school kids (except, unlike primary school kids, you all have 1-2 drinks in hand and several under the belt) and watch everyone get matched up in public.
Apparently everyone at Jurassic Lounge is single, or their friends are, because almost everyone in the museum is here to watch the public dating match-ups. Our host is quite the cute hipster himself, and I think several of the women wish they could be set up with him. The whole affair is HIGH-larious. People really get into the spirit of it, chanting their friends names when they are called, cheering when their friends meet their random match, and drinking their friends’ left-over beverages when they disappear away with their date for a free drink and a chat on the Museum’s account.
After our friend gets called up to meet her date (he’s so young, I think he had puberty acne, she says), the buzz of the Velvet Elvis’ wears off and we decide to walk home, after checking out some of the more every day museum details: like scorpions and funnel webs mating, the weedy sea dragon and nerdy topographical maps.
Speaking to my friend this week, she tells me that Jurassic Lounge is open for less than a week, so onwards, with details!
Where: Jurassic Lounge, Australian Museum, 6 College Street Sydney NSW 2000. http://australianmuseum.net.au/event/Jurassic-Lounge
When: 3 September 2013 to 5 November 2013, Tuesdays, 6:00pm to 10:00pm.
Admission: $16 on the door, but the museum recommends booking online to avoid missing out AND so you can take advantage of the express line. If you turn up just before 6pm like we did, we got tickets on the door easily and had no line, but within half an hour, there was a huge line, so it is worth taking the museum’s advice. If they sell out their online allocation, they still have a number of tickets on the door.
NB: Jurassic Lounge is an 18+ event and you may be asked for ID, so don’t forget to bring some with you.
Tips for getting the most out of Jurassic Lounge: arrive just before 6pm if you haven’t booked your tickets online, and arrive just before 6pm if you are a picky eater like me or you just dislike queues.