I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about feminism, mostly because I don’t. But I am a woman so that must mean I get to have an opinion on it. What I do know, is that there are women out there that pave the way for other women. Women that bring down boundaries, that crush gender bias, that say no to Supre. Women that drink with the gusto of ten men and still remain on their feet. Women that deserve Wikipedia pages and Instagram fan accounts. Paige, whether she knows it or not, is one of these women.
I meet Paige at Lobo Plantation, a bar in Sydney’s CBD, on a Friday, which is great because everybody has left sobriety at the office and the atmosphere tastes like a skinny dip in spring. I am immediately impressed, she throws saucy metaphors around like a lyrical genius and evokes a realised version of every man’s childhood dream, Jessica Rabbit. Obviously, I want to be her new best friend.
We sit and staff work around us all the while demonstrating a mixed type of awe and tenderness towards Paige. She plays the part perfectly; attentive, knowledgeable, has high social dexterity, no wonder she’s the manager of Lobo Plantation, she runs that rum den like a Queen Bee does a hive. I draw strong flashbacks to the infamous Gertrude Lythgoe, the only woman to ever operate an alcohol bootlegging ring during the male-dominated Prohibition Era, fittingly also known as ‘The Bahama Queen’.
So you get it, she’s great, but why meet Paige? Why stop all the funs and start talking about something crazy like feminism? Well, it’s actually important to our civilisation that we quit dicking around and highlight women who don’t sweep their crazy under the rug and actually run their lives like social media’s not watching. And these women are found everywhere, being awesome, even in the bar industry. We don’t have to sit around a fire and get all our lady tools together for liking ourselves either, but let’s at least virtually come together and cheers to other women that are running their own shit tight and right.
Paige does that, with no apologies, so here are a few reasons (of many) as to why you should haul ass to Lobo Plantation and find out exactly what makes this saucy minx a bartending game changer.
Started as a waiter now she’s here
‘Don’t settle for less’ is an admirable mantra which seems to pulse through Paige’s veins. Studying a business degree, she started as a waitress at Piano Room but couldn’t move past the drawing attraction of the bar. “I was waitressing and it sounds cliche but I was like I want to bartend, I want to be on that side with the boys. And when Piano Room wouldn’t let me bartend I went to Trademark.”
Over the course of five years she steadily moved through establishments; Ocean Room, Ivy, Dive Bar, Lo-fi, The Unicorn, picking up experience and skills till she found her home at Lobo. “I owe so much to the fact that Jared (owner of Lobo) is such a forward thinker and invests in people really well. I was the youngest in the team and I was still the first person he came to when looking for a new manager. I appreciate him seeing something in me that maybe I bring something to the table that the boys don’t.”
She also wants to have her own business by the time she’s 30.
Keeps it real
Some of us suffer greatly at the hands of over appraising parents and as a result win a prize of infinite self doubt and fear of mediocrity. While Paige, born in Avalon and now living in Newtown, tells me her mother always just supported her to be “the best person she could be” even if that meant being a “career checkout chick”.
While most women would have visions of being pioneers and captains of their industry, the majority spend their time trying to be Kim Kardashian or Taylor Swift. Then the rest of us just spend time playing personality Russian Roulette with life waiting for one of the Sex and the City characters to go off.
Paige is the kind of girl that could where a backwards cap or a do-rag with a full face of make up without looking like she just stepped off the set of Save The Last Dance 2. She doesn’t hide behind her tastes, she owns them.
It’s not an anti-men thing
While she’s all about encouraging and aiding women in furthering their careers in the bar industry, by no means is she anti-men.
“I love men and there are so many guys in this industry that are so pro-fem. But this is such an incredibly male dominated industry. I have nothing against the men, and I’ve never felt like I’ve had anything held against me. I just think we need to encourage women to get involved in this industry because both genders bring such individual, amazing qualities to it.”
A woman to the people
I really strongly believe people go to bars for the people, lucky for everyone Paige loves people. This is the core of her job.
“The best thing is all the people I get to meet and the team I work with, working with these boys day in and day out helps me grow, learn, understand my own strengths.
I’ve never met a more concentrated group of people that are so smart. And there’s something to be said about people that allow themselves to get rid of the rigidness of the 9-5 and just allow themselves to be eccentric. You can’t beat that.”
There is a broad spectrum to womanhood and to box others in would serve to worsen the cause. Despite that, I genuinely believe bars, people, society would benefit from more Paiges, more multi-dimensional girls that operate on a wide spectrum of opinions and are aware of their emotions. Girls that genuinely enjoy a beer and a burger without talking about how they’ll have to go for a run just to work it off. Girls that curse eloquently, girls that party with an enviable vigour and dress delicately because they personally enjoy it. Girls that are women.
Image credit: Daryl Kong