Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a need for political culture. In West End appeared the the first coffee club in Brisbane – May the 1st Club which was a regular event organised by activists from the democratic rights struggles in the 1970s.
May 1st featured live music, readings, poetry and talks on local and international themes. May 1st Club was housed in the West End Resource Centre (WERC) at 75b Vulture Street West End (downstairs).
WERC was set up in early 1979 as a joint effort of three groups – Friends of the Earth, the Learning Exchange and LeftPress Printing Society. We built a sound proof studio, had film recording and projection equipment and offset printing facilities produced pamphlets and posters.
Friends of the Earth had been heavily involved in the campaign to prevent mining and export of Uranium from Queensland. The Learning Exchange was set up in the mid 1970s to do just that – to exchange knowledge and skills. LeftPress Printing Society was and still is a socialist printing enterprise
Out of this collaboration and participation, local activists organised May 1st Club where light meals, coffee and cakes were consumed to the accompaniment of live music played by local musicians like Chris Anderson, Lachlan Hurse, and Sue Monk. Another band that played there was “Lorry& the Lorikeets” with Barbara and Trevor Hart and on of the Boukholz brothers who were active in the blues scene then.
The aim of May 1st was to foster solidarity and struggle at a time of unemployment, repression and reaction. The Brisbane branch of the Ananda Maga also used to teach yoga at WERC. A section of the Ananda Maga were active around unemployment. It was during this time that the Hilton Hotel was bombed and the ‘Margies’ were arrested for something they didn’t do. This led to a lot of Prisoners’ Action activism in N.S.W.
May 1st Club endured into the 1980s and led the way to ‘one-off’ events like the ‘Living in the Colonies’ concert at AHEPA hall (Frontera and Monni Zow, 1986), Rock Against Petersen [Popular Theatre Troupe Hall, Red Hill] and many others.
Sue Monk & Lachlan Hurse have continued this early work and carried on this tradition in Foco Nuevo which is a performance project of Jumping Fences, where they have adapted the Latin American peña into their own informal folk concert held on the First Friday of every month at Kurilpa Hall in West End.
This film depicts the struggles of the day and has original footage [at 04:16] of the West End Resource Centre where May the 1st Club was housed.