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The Clubbies

It really is Revenge of the Nerds, writes Hillbilly Skeleton in this guest post.

Back in the day, when I was but a young teen with puberty blues, waiting patiently on the beach at Elouera  for my boyfriend to come in from his surf, minding his towel, Australia was still predominantly ‘White’ I guess you could say, except for the ‘Ities’ and other post-WW2 immigrants who tended to avoid the beaches like the plague because, with their ‘swarthy skin’ (now an enviable olive complexion), and their dark hair and dark eyes, they stood out like the proverbial dog’s balls compared to us lobster-red, Irish-Australian types, or blonde-haired, blue-eyed, archetypal ‘Surfie’ types.

I was the one on the right.

I was the one on the right.

Thus, as is the inevitable wont of all societies it seems to me, we of the Surf culture diaspora needed an antagonist to vent our hormonal spleen against.  An enemy that would cohere us as a group, around which we could circulate like a constellation united in our feelings of superiority. I mean, everyone always wants to be with the cool crowd, or ‘The In Crowd’ as the famous song goes.  So, on the beach the territorial and social games were played out between the ‘Clubbies’ and the ‘Surfies’.  The cool kids were the Surfies and the ‘Losers’ were the Clubbies.


Photo: Surf Rescue Australia

And so it generally remained for a couple of decades, through the tumultuous period of the counter-cultural revolution and global ‘youthquake’, via iconic bands such as the Beach Boys, and in Australia with the high water mark the emblematic community hall-displayed Surf Movie.

Until it crashed ashore and ran aground against the Uber Dag President of the United States, Ronald Reagan, and the straight-laced, school-marmish mien of UK PM Margaret Thatcher.

The Clubbies fought back too (thank you Kellogg’s ‘Nutri Grain’ for the marketing), and organised against the Surfies, who were stoned out of their gourds on Nepalese hash and the like, which they had smuggled back into Australia after their pilgrimages of enlightenment to India and the Himalayas-a function of a time in Australia’s history when the Borders & Customs units weren’t para-military operations as they are now, and dog’s noses were only ever used for smelling other dog’s bums.   Talk about a Xanadu!  And no, I don’t mean the cheesy, white-bread Olivia Newton-John song of the same name.  Of course, I must qualify myself by saying this was in the period when religious observance was on the wane, religious extremism and evangelism were but a gleam in the eyes of the Ayatollah Khomeini and Billy Graham. ‘Terrorism’ was something that little boys did to little girls at birthday parties.

Thus inspired by their titanic new Uber Dag global heroes and heroines, who were by now riding the crest of a wave of resurgence of popularity of Conservatism, those members of Australian society covered by the Surf Club umbrella, broadly speaking, and we must count our own Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, as one of that kind, realised that if they organised and clubbed together they could become a force to be reckoned with in Australian society.  As opposed to being the butt of the cool kid’s jokes and subject of their dismissal, derision and condescension.


Fightback! Photo:

As opposed to . . .

As opposed to . . . Photo: shutterstock

In fact, you could see the transformation in society, reflected in the two most emblematic teen culture films of that nascent era, ‘The Breakfast Club’, in all it’s gauzy glory of mega doofusness, and ‘Mean Girls’, in all it’s small-minded, wealth-as-indicator-of-worth, demeaning-of-fellow human beings-as-sign-of-superiority glory.

The Clubbies had decided to go forth and multiply and conquer the Surfies.  They completed their Marketing and Business qualifications and began to be supported by the politicians from the parties of Reagan and Thatcher, or became ‘the love child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop’ and became politicians themselves, who would enact the laws to ensure that they and their kind prevailed and their subsequent supremacy over the cool kids occurred, even if they weren’t naturally-gifted by birth with anything other than a smart mouth and a wealthy mummy and daddy (Christopher Pyne, I’m looking at you!).

Talk about ‘Revenge of the Nerds’!

In fact, you could map their success by the fact that formerly cool kids who wouldn’t have touched them with a barge pole wanted to become them.

What I take comfort from though is that the Surfies have woken up from their drug-induced haze, well the smart ones have, and they didn’t just throw in the towel and throw in their lot with the Clubbies, they are also equipping themselves with the tools necessary to exact their revenge against their perennial foes the Clubbies.  For the right reasons of course, as they refuse to compromise their principles, being the betterment of society and the globe, free of the straight-jacket that is symbolised by Tony Abbott’s totemic, red budgie-smugglers, white shirts, and yes, blue tie.

I say that, mind you, as a scientist and believer in the laws of Physics, encapsulated colooquially by the saying ‘What goes up, must come down’.  Also, as one of those Surfer Girls of yore, who was imbued with a never-ending wellspring of faith in the simple truth that Good will always end up prevailing over Evil.  Like a true Christian.  Why, like Jesus himself and not the bastardised manifestation of his life and good works that so-called Christians like Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison and the rest of them in their government of the faithful hide their miscreant behaviour behind.

Anyway, as we all know in Australia, the immutable article of faith will always be that the Surfers and the Skaters will always be superior to the Clubbies!

(Sorry for that little bit of meanness of my own creeping in there.  Though you do have to learn from what has made them successful.  Which is complete and absolute faith in your cause).

[twitter-follow screen_name=’HillbillySkill’ show_count=’yes’]


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  1. booboo

    How did Mean Girls end up in the same film era as Breakfast Club? The timeline you present is very confusing.

  2. diannaart


    Just swap “Mean Girls” with “Heathers” and chill.

  3. Hillbilly Skeleton

    Sigh. ‘Heathers’ is correct. Same same. Must do better research next time instead of relying on my feeble memory. 😉

  4. mark delmege

    Nicely written story Hillbilly. Over on the west coast we didn’t care where people came from – our group included poms, locals, wogs and dago’s, an albino and all in between – even a cop, though we were never quite sure of him. For us the lines were more between the surfers (us) and the surfies – the posers with their vans and board atop who wanted to look kool. The clubbies were a world away – they were just wankers like the surfies and others who got in the way. In those days you could buy an ounce for $30 and if you were lucky it would be a bag of mostly heads or even better compressed thai, fuel was closer to 50 cents a gallon and we’d eat polony knobs and pepsi in those new light aluminium cans. Unlike Sydney the good surf was a long drive away – north or south back in the days when surf spots were still being discovered. Sydney was another matter. I spent some time on the north shore where every bay seemed to work and the choice of surfing or employment was a real challenge… and there was a drug dealer on every corner.
    I haven’t surfed for a long time not since returning to Perth where the demands of study made a lifestyle and thrice weekly surfs impossible. Many fell along the way… the Albino who was riddled with melanoma died not of cancer but too much smack. Others ended in jail, the loony bin or burnt out in other ways – like the school friend I introduced to ciggies who after a decade of heroin succumbed to liver disease. But back in those day most of my mates couldn’t quite understand my interest in politics – they reckoned it was a mugs game and how could I believe any of them anyway. And on that I think they had a point.

  5. Kaye Lee

    My feeble memory so remembers that time.

    The Hoey Moey at Coffs Harbour watching Endless Summer, walking down to Angourie and sitting there for hours while he surfed, travelling up and down the coast looking for a working left-hander cause he was a goofy footer….

    You have evoked such a memory in my mind that I have forgotten politics for a moment….thank you for that 🙂

  6. jaycee

    Hello Hillbilly…long time and all that..I remember needing a lift to someplace local and was obliged to accept from a dedicated surfer….we spent the next six hours at various cliff-top spots along the coast with him staring “Colonel Light -like” , mesmerised at the varying qualities of surf… bored as f#ck wishing I had a big-fat-bong or anything to ease the abyss of boredom….never again, for no reason did I accept a lift even to the local deli’ from him!
    Gotta admit though…I did like the hooded duffell coats w / “Ban-the-bomb” logo on the sleeve!

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