Isolar II: The 1978 World Tour (AUS/NZ)

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Dogs in Space: The Melbourne Ticket Queue

In 1978, queues for David Bowie’s first concert tour of Australia formed local music history as fans camped out over several weeks to see their idol.

In 2013, Bowie fan Bruce Butler offered the following recollection of the queue in words and images.

Words and Photos by Bruce Butler
Additional Photos by Tim McLaughlan
On Saturday 16 September 1978, an advertisement appeared in the morning newspapers announcing tickets for David Bowie's first ever Australian tour.
Tickets were to go on sale the following Saturday morning (the 23rd of September) from the Gate 2 ticket window at the MCG.



By about 1pm after work (at Gaslight Records) I was at the MCG to see if there was a flood of people after tickets.

There was a flood of people...


... but they were there to see the 1st Semi Final between Collingwood and Carlton.

Amongst this crowd I discovered one other out-of-place soul checking out the Gate 2 ticket window.
This is how I met Sam Sejavka the subject of the film Dogs In Space as played by Michael Hutchence.
We immediately formed a queue and quickly decided not to hang around for the football.
Sam and I arranged to meet back at Gate 2 that evening with supplies and friends for our week stay before tickets went on sale.
At about 8pm my girlfriend Erika and I arrived and soon Sam and his friend Paul turned up.
The following day a few curious Bowie fans came to check out Gate 2 and, surprised to find us, immediately made arrangements to join the queue.
Over the next few days about twelve people joined us. Some, including me, went off to work or school during the day but rejoined the queue for each night.
I actually called in sick to work on Wednesday and stayed "sick" for the rest of the week.
We had a great time using my car as a sound system and a burning rubbish bin for warmth. Along with each other and various shared substances.
On the Wednesday or Thursday the Herald/Sun newspaper ran an article and photo of us so by Friday night there was a few hundred people in the queue.
By Saturday morning there were probably thousands.

Remember this was the ONLY way to get tickets at the time.

At 9am the Ticket Window opened.... at GATE 3!!!!

There was chaos, people who had just arrived that morning were getting tickets and we weren't.
I fought my way to the Gate 3 window and told them they'd made a mistake. I showed them that morning's newspaper ad stating again that it was supposed to be Gate 2.
It took so long to get action, and by now they'd opened Window 4 but still not 2, that when they gave us at the front of the queue tickets they were for Section C.

The General admission lawn area was sectioned off as A (front) B and C at the back.

We were devastated.
There was a Channel 9 news crew there to cover the event and I jumped in front of the camera and started raving about how stupid the MCG staff were and how fucked-up the promoter Paul Dainty was and that I was going to be at his office first thing on Monday morning to have this sorted out.

It went to air at 6pm Saturday night.
On Monday I was at Paul Dainty's office where I was expected.

They said sorry, blamed the MCG and exchanged all the tickets I had collected from my fellow queuers for Section A tickets.

They also gave me a couple of promotional photos Bowie had signed for a competition.

Later on Monday I fronted my Gaslight boss who also saw me on the news stating I was in a queue for the past week and not sick.

He was very understanding and said it was OK as long as I didn't do it again.
I resigned on the spot because I had section A tickets for David bowie in November and I knew that to be in the front row of section A was going to take some very serious queuing indeed as the standard had now been set very high.
Little was I to know that we were to regroup the queue in October and spend a full three weeks queuing to be in the front row at the MCG for Bowie's first ever show in Melbourne.

It was the last night of this second queue (not the ticket queue as Patrick Donovan claims) that's featured in Dogs In Space.

But this queue is a whole other story and could have a movie just about those three weeks.

Dogs in Space (1986 Australian Film)

2015 ACMI Interview with Bruce Butler

18 Berry Street, Richmond
From the Victorian Heritage Register:

"The Residence at 18 Berry Street Richmond is of social significance as the primary location for the filming of the Australian film Dogs in Space.

Dogs in Space portrayed the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll subculture of the late 1970s, one of the first Australian films to do so with a degree of mainstream success.

It starred, among others,singer Michael Hutchence, and was an important cultural reference point for young people in the 1980s.

The house is still readily recognised by many who have seen the film".

ED: It should be noted that Berry Street and the Bowie queue did not co-exist as they did in the movie. This was a plot convenience (Berry Street came later). The significance of the Bowie queue, however, is that this was where many of the friendships were first established, eventually leading to the Richmond terrace house and several of the friendships that still exist today.

Above: In its 1970s "heyday". Below: Now restored as million dollar plus terrace.


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