IT’S about eight o’clock on Friday night when I stroll into Freo’s shiniest new entertainment venue – Flight Club.
I must see what the successor to the Newport Hotel has to offer.
Inside I’m met with a bustling bar, a live DJ playing The Cure, and tasty-looking share plates shooting around.
The space is cosy, instantly likeable and highly decorative with dark rosewood detailing, dangling ivy and yellow-bulbed lighting everywhere. I can’t help but feel I am on the set of Peaky Blinders.
Flight Club Darts was founded in 2012 when two English men caught up in a pub in Devon.
After watching a young group enthusiastically playing darts, the men were inspired to combine the high energy of social darts with the warmth and community of traditional British pubs.
“Pretty bonkers two English lads made all of this,” says Perth Flight Club manager James, describing the business’s humble beginnings.
“Our Perth venue was our first venue here in Australia; Fremantle is our second.”
James says Flight Club flew him over from England in 2021 to manage the new Perth venue.
“It’s a great place for sharing, socialising and gameplay, and the people of Fremantle have responded well to us, and we are stoked.”
Our conversation pauses briefly as we turn our heads to a lively cheer erupting from a group of people nearby.
“It has certainly taken off,” James beams.
I look up to the ceiling. Golden memories of being supportive (and slightly embarrassed) of drunk karaoke-stumblers cross my mind.
Their off-pitch notes echo around my head. And suddenly, I catch a whiff of a spilt fruity, fishbowl cocktail. Then I can almost swear my fingers feel slightly sticky. Oh, the charming Newport nights.
“What about upstairs – the previous bar used upstairs – it had loads of room,” I ask James.
He tells me upstairs is currently empty, but there is talk of a new separate bar opening there.
But enough about the past and the future, the present is the best place to be. I pick up the tall menu in front of me.
The venue also has an extensive food menu with most options designed to be shared.
Plates and platters are comprised of elevated modern pub-classics.
So, we are talking cheeseburger spring rolls, chargrilled meats, pork and apple sausage rolls, corn ribs and pizzas.
Bar-lovers can also look forward to a neat array of options, especially when it comes to gin (synonymous with the English, so it’s no real surprise).
There are plenty of wines, spirits, cocktails (the Lemon Meringue and Murray Peach Iced Tea taste even better than they sound) and a selection of icy beers on-tap.
“I would recommend the Red bull Sour, any of the pizzas and the chicken parmi; since being in Australia, I’ve learnt you can’t beat a good parmi,” says James.
Prices across the board seem reasonable and on weekdays from 11am-2.30pm you can snag a $15 meal.
Another drawcard for the venue – it can host a range of events.
“In our Perth venue it’s events galore: You can hire a MC and they walk the floor with a microphone and hype up gameplay. Whether it’s a work party or a birthday, everyone loves it to bits.”
I am not too fond of traditional darts, so I ask James if the gameplay has been reimagined at all.
“I’d say its classic with a twist: There are six types of games including demolition and snakes and ladders, they are great fun.”
Electronic screens are placed alongside each dartboard. It looks more engaging than a chalk scoreboard for sure; calling each player to the screen before flashing your result and finally a scoreboard viewing.
Darts always seemed a ‘boy’s club’ sort of game, so I am curious about the venue’s demographics.
“We get people from their early 20s to late 80s in here. I’d say it’s about 30 percent women.”
A few weeks earlier, I visited the Murray Street venue and asked a female bouncer the same question.
“Not a boy’s club anymore. In-fact, I see more females come in,” she said.
“But yes, it’s a non-judgemental space, people are just too busy having fun,” James added.
Upon talking to James, Flight Club staff, and the Perth bouncer, a real sense of pride is evident.
“I love working here,” said the bouncer.
The Freo staff were extremely friendly and attentive which makes me think they enjoy their work too.
James added, “We have a good name for ourselves. Back home in England when I tell people I work for Flight Club their faces light up. I am thrilled here in Perth it’s inspiring the same reputation.”
Flight Club also hold a High Tea Social every Sunday, where for $79 a head you get a bottle of Prosecco and bottomless sandwiches, cakes, teas, coffees and darts.
The venue feels like a new pair of stylish shoes – despite one’s excitement to wear them, you know they need to be worn-in to achieve maximum comfort.
Bar-lovers and activity-doers should be excited and dart on in.
I know I am looking forward to the next time I can find an excuse to visit Flight Club.
I think it’s fresh take on dart gameplay has convinced me to try the sport again.
If all fails, I’ll undoubtedly enjoy gin, high tea, cheering on people and head banging to The Artic Monkeys.
by DANIELA GARBIN
Flight Club Fremantle
2 South Terrace, Fremantle