Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Tivoli Arcade - an unseen facet of Melbourne


Neglected by the upper-class locals and overlooked by tourists, Tivoli Arcade represents a different facet of Melbourne unseen by many and intentionally disregarded by more. Unlike the glorious and well loved Block Arcade located just a short distance away, Tivoli Arcade is gloomy and miserable by comparison. If Block Arcade is the marvelous ivory white Taj Mahal, then Tivoli Arcade is the pathetic slum sprawls incongruously in the middle of the city.

A blur of confusing neon signage illuminated from the ubiquitous nail arcades and hairdressing salons lined across the narrow covered passageway, competing with each other for customers in the most blatant fashion. This is a place where the general working class and university students come for quick and affordable haircut, manicure, massage and waxing services. Boring lightings, plain white ceiling, uninteresting tiled flooring, and furnishing at the bare minimum; Tivoli Arcade could have easily won the unsolicited award as the dullest place in Melbourne.


Yet, it is in this same unexciting arcade that many immigrants build their dreams and strive to make a difference to their lives. Tivoli Arcade is a face of Melbourne not usually viewable by outsiders, concealed beneath the glamorous fa├žade of dazzling fashions, gourmet culinary, coffee cultures and fascinating arts. It is one of the most truthful and humblest features of Melbourne, where new and veteran migrants make ends meet in their new settled land through hard works and inimitable skills.


Silently, the Vietnamese beauty therapist removes cuticles and applies glittering nail gloss to a store of jam-packed lady customers. Happy patrons have their hair trimmed efficiently, and being charged a price at the lower end of the market spectrum. Roast duck Bahn Mi is served with crusty baguettes, adorned with classic pickled carrots, homemade pate, and creamy mayo. Office workers visit the place for a hearty and affordable Korean lunch box filled with rice, salad mix, and signature pork bulgogi cooked in flavoursome chilli sauce. South East Asian students with strong addiction to spicy sambal throng along the arcade for a cheap rice combo of Indonesian curries and dishes.


Without a proper ambience or any enviable top-notch service, Tivoli Arcade is a place where substance and value are highly valued to keep its continuous survival.  

By night, the arcade is turned into a dancing floor for the coolest b-boys in town. They headspin, swipe, kick up, do an airflare, then a windmill, and end with a back-spin on the arcade floor, all done at the trendy beat of the blaring hip-hop and funk music. 

Location:


235-251 Bourke Street, Melbourne VIC 3000 
(Between Swanston and Russell Streets) 

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