Sometimes all you really want is to turn up the volume and sing nineties songs by yourself in your bedroom. Most other times – perhaps when your neighbours are home or you want human contact, you need to fi nd external sources to live out your nineties dreams. Here, in no particular order, are some of the places in Canberra that remind me most of the nineties and as such make me very happy.
So many parts of the ANU campus echo the American college vibes of 90s teen brilliance. If your crib is Daley Road or Unilodge you’re probably buggin’ because the Ethernet cord life is only one step ahead of dial-up. However, the College of Law is so Fancy that it’s totally Clueless. One can also channel Buff y the Vampire Slayer all the time – not just when walking through the ANU alone at night.1 From the School of Art’s classic American Sunnydale High-esque design, to the tree-lined pathways where Willow would sit to study. Even our bars are about as cool as The Bronze. I’m just waiting to fi nd out my college love interest secretly goes to ADFA.
Transit Bar (on a Tuesday)
Although not immediately mentioned to ANU newbies – unlike Mooseheads, Cube and Unipub – Transit is tight and should not be dissed. Often populated by townies, Transit comes alive on a Tuesday to the dope sounds of KARAOKE! Get in there and sing “Wannabe” or “Waterfalls”. Perhaps even crack out some Backstreet Boys or Steps. Best of all, the crowd will approve, whether or not you’re any good.
The West Wing
If you ever fi nd yourself becoming disenchanted with the state of Australian politics, head on down to Old Parliament House and pretend you’ve returned to the inspiring political world of The West Wing – let’s be honest, it’s the real reason we all moved to the ANU in the fi rst place. Grab a group of your smartest friends, put on your best suits and demonstrate your ability to walk and talk through the meandering halls. Visit the offi ces of past Prime Ministers and channel your inner Bartlett/Whitlam while imagining a political world where politicians care about education, social welfare and our ability to reach for the stars – make sure you throw in some Latin and biblical quotes. If you prefer the new, head to actual Parliament House and in the Great Hall give an emotional rendition of President Bartlett’s speech in “Two Cathedrals”, because you never forgave Aaron Sorkin for killing Mrs Landingham. Finally, if you ever fi nd yourself embroiled in your IR/ Law degree wondering where you’re going in life, turn up your Josh Lyman ego, stick a napkin reading “Bartlett for America” on your dorm wall and write a letter to Joe Hockey about your secret plan to fi ght infl at ion.
Lake Burley Griffin
Anyone else dream of living out that one scene in 10 Things I Hate About You where Kat and Patrick go paddle-boating on the lake – after sneaking out of detention, so reb – and then have a paint fi ght? Just me? Well either way, every time I see the boat shed on the lake, the song from that scene2 plays in my head. Unfortunately none of the paintball places in Canberra are on the lake, so I’ve never tried them, but paddle boating has almost fulfi lled my dream.
Basically anywhere in Canberra
Let’s ask ourselves, why do we love the nineties? It was shamelessly lame and innocent – as were we during the nineties; its music and TV shows weren’t objectively good, but somehow instead of cringing and insisting that we won’t dance when “Backstreet’s Back” comes on, we embrace it. We re-watch Friends, Seinfi eld and early South Park, fully knowing that the plotlines leave something to be desired, but god forbid anyone disses them. Hell no. This is how I feel about Canberra. It doesn’t really know what it’s doing. It was designed with good intentions, yet somehow it never managed to be properly cool. Roundabouts, Mooseheads and Questacon are the Furbies, Olsen twins and Animorphs of Canberra. Even though this city is not objectively a cultural wonderland, and even though foreigners are always shocked to hear that it is our capital, it’s the city we all love to love. The dream of the nineties is defi nitely alive in Canberra. To all you bush week newbies, welcome. You better love it.