Looking for an aussie

David Dargie dargie at CLTR.UQ.EDU.AU
Mon Sep 29 06:35:07 UTC 1997

> Could anybody explain the expression "layback" in the following
>"Happy hours, discount drinks and irresponsible promotions such as laybacks
>were found to be a prime cause of violence in Australia."


I do not think that 'laybacks' have anything to do with the Oz term for
casual (i.e. 'laid back') which is still quite common (though 'cool' is
certainly on the increase).

A 'layback' in this context refers to a not so laid back practice.  Such an
act would take place in a night-club on something like a barber's chair
where the patron would 'lay back' in the chair and have their cocktail
(generally a mix of straight spirits with provocative names like
rocket-fuels, orgasms, mind-f#*%s, etc.) delivered directly down the throat.
More often than not, the chair is dispensed with and patrons are required to
lay down on the bar and the alcohol is poured unceremoniously into their
mouth via two or more bottles.   (Children, please don't try this at home!)

It is expensive, sometimes messy, often dangerous, antisocial and very popular!

Clearly the practice is part of the Australian binge-drinking mentality, but
it is only practiced by a small element;  the hard-core drinkers (some of
them, women) who may or may not be violent.  However, it is sponsored
gleefully by the alcohol industry, who just as gleefully sponsor full
contact forms of 'football', particularly Rubgy League.

Violence at drinking establishments has a very long history in Australia and
it still occurs regularly at some places (particularly in rural areas where
testosterone-laden farm-hands, 'jackaroos', are occasionally let loose in a
town, with swolen wallets, empty heads, sunburn and bad attitudes).  ;-(
(Apologies to any jackaroos on the list!)

 Fortunately, the drinking/fighting culture has not been so popular in
Australia since the 1980s when I was a teenager.  The drug culture has
replaced the drinking culture to some extent, with emphasis now more on
acquisition, by house-breaking or car-theft.  Another form of violence has
become more popular among the teenagers of the 1990s which owes much to the
gang warfare of New York and Los Angeles.  This has been accompanied by an
increase in weapon-associated viloence, though guns are more difficult to
acquire.  Moreover, when guns are used by adolescents, it is more usually
for the purpose of suicide than murder.

Needless to say, this antisocial behaviour that is, to a limited extent,
acceptable in this country, is associated with one of the highest rates of
youth suicide in the world.  It is a great shame to see many of the lives of
my fellow youths (I am now 29) being wasted in such a frivolous way.  Even
greater is the shame that our community seems reticent to really respond to
the challenge.  That challenge is to give the youth of today some sense of
belonging, self-importance and responsibility.  After all, I would bet that
any gang in Australia has more computerly able persons than our entire
Federal Parliament!

It is certainly not my intention to discourage tourism to our country, since
we are on the whole a very laid back people, and our country is RELATIVELY
unspoiled.  However, if a tourist intended to drink heavily at places other
than the Sheraton bars, then they should be very careful.

Sorry Lars, for such a long-winded answer to a fairly simple question.

Warmest regards

David Dargie

David Dargie
Centre for Language Teaching and Research
University of Queensland
email: dargie at lingua.cltr.uq.oz.au
Phone: +61 7 3365 6917
Home: +61 7 3397 6863

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