Tasty nightclub raid
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The Tasty nightclub raid refers to an incident on 7 August 1994 during which 463 patrons of the Tasty nightclub event in Melbourne, Australia were detained for seven hours, strip searched and cavity searched, and in some cases brutalised , by armed members of Victoria Police.
The Tasty nightclub, not widely known to the general public prior to media reports of the raid, was a popular alternative venue frequented by a large number of gay and transgender patrons, and well-known local identities. Though not endorsed by the organisers drug taking was common amongst its patrons. The Tasty events were in some ways a precursor to the later underground rave parties.
The incident occurred at the Commerce Club, Flinders Street, Melbourne at which the Tasty event was regularly held (patrons typically entered and left via a rear entrance in the more secluded Flinders Lane for their own security).
During the raid, which began in the early hours, no patrons were permitted to enter or leave the venue for approximately seven hours. Full nudity was enforced and the searches were performed in full view of other patrons. The strip search, whilst distressing for all attendees, was particularly humiliating for the transgender patrons.
The exact police motivation for the raid is unclear. The predominant sexuality of the events' clientele was well known to police, leading to intense speculation that the club was specifically targeted for reasons grounded in homophobia.
The raid resulted in two drug-related arrests, but all charges were later dropped.
Media attention and public backlash
A photograph of the incident taken by a patron holding a camera which, in the darkness, had not been seen by police appeared on the front page of Melbourne's Age newspaper under the headline "Hands Against The Wall". The resulting media attention created a great deal of political controversy, as well as embarrassment to the police force and the Kennett government of the day. The situation brought attention to a police force that had been noted as the most violent in Australia, dating back to 1984.
The incident led to successful legal action against Victoria Police with damages of well over A$10,000,000 awarded to patrons. This sum would have been considerably higher had all affected parties come forward—a large number of patrons, fearful of the repercussions of "outing" themselves in a public forum or reluctant to relive the traumatic experience of the raid, did not participate.
Although very different in their particular manifestations of activism, the Tasty incident has been described by some as Melbourne's Stonewall, comparable to the latter through its effect on community views and awareness, and resultant reviews of inappropriate police activity.
A 52-minute documentary about the incident was made in 2003 to mark its 10th anniversary. The Tasty Bust Reunion was produced by Esben Storm and directed by Stephen Maclean, and includes extensive interviews and insights with patrons, club owners and employees. The documentary was screened on SBS television Australia and released on DVD.
Origins and organisers
Tasty originated at Temple Bar and Nightclub in the Masonic Building, in Flinders Street, Melbourne. Following the closure of the Commerce Club, Tasty moved to Wall Street, Melbourne.
Tasty was produced by Razor Promotions: Gavin Campbell, Stephen de Jong and Rhett Adam. Razor also produced 'Savage' at the Palladin Nightclub, 'Bump!' at The Redhead and 'Razor' at The Light Car Club, South Melbourne.
On the 20th anniversary of the Tasty Nightclub Raid, Acting Chief Commissioner Lucinda Nolan apologised to the LGBTI community at the Victoria Police Museum.
- Kim Linden (26 June 1996). "Why are Victorian police so violent?". Green Left Organisation. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- Simon Hughes (10 November 2002). "'Tasty' raid: now for the song and dance". TheAge.com.au. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- Johnston, Chris (30 March 2012). "The Razor Gang". The Age. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- Mills, Tammy (5 August 2014). "Victoria Police Apologise for Tasty Raid". The Age. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
- Victoria Police Corruption, written by Raymond Hoser, [ISBN 0-9586769-6-8]