Sex and the city


Contemporary picture of a den of iniquity

Over the last couple of days, Facebook and Twitter have been full of mourning for long demolished blocks of flats in central Perth. Even councillors at the City of Perth having been bewailing the loss of such buildings as the Riviera Flats.

For our part, we are happy to let people wallow in nostalgia and believe that blocks of flats were a good thing.

No. Wait. This is Dodgy Perth.

In 1929, as flats became more common in Perth, it was becoming clear that nothing good was going to come of this new way of living.

The media had discovered that some of these apartments were being rented by young single men. To understand why this was controversial you need look at the alternatives.

If the young man lived at home, his parents would be there to stop any hanky-panky shenanigans happening in his bed.

The only other option, before flats, was to live in a boarding house. The communal nature of the building, and because they were ruled over by a middle-aged matron, definitely meant no sexy time in a boarding house.

But flats were different. They were your own space, and you (and others) could come and go as you pleased without being observed. No wonder they terrified both the older generation and the media.

The young man who rented a flat could invite his girlfriend over for a ‘quiet drink’, or throw a party. And these were not the kind of parties that would be sanctioned in their parents’ homes.

Inevitably, the newspapers went all “won’t somebody think of the girls?” No decent girl, they said, would be used to drinking. So as soon as she had a few in a private flat, she would instantly become the victim of her predatory host.

Well. Maybe. But probably not.

Why can’t the law stop young men renting flats? was the cry. Private flats for young men were only going to cause trouble.

So, to those who are unhappy that blocks of Art Deco flats were demolished, Dodgy Perth asks you this simple question: Won’t somebody think of the girls?

Bacchanalian revels in flats


Perhaps it’s surprising that the first flats built in Perth were extremely controversial. As far as the press could see, nothing good was going to come of this new way of living in the 1920s.

Prepare to be shocked by the discovery that unmarried males were renting apartments:

The latest thing in Perth is flats for young single men.

The flats are used not for residential purposes but for the wild parties of these young high-livers and in more than one instance the practice has become a scandal among the neighbours.

But it would be a worse scandal if some highly respectable Perth parents knew the sort of place their sons were keeping and also the type of resorts some of their daughters were frequenting.

Most of these young fellows are sons of well-to-do families and the result is that they have more to spend than the average working boy. Hence they are not content to take their enjoyment at public dances and shows as ordinary people do. And as the parties they hold are not of the kind that would be sanctioned in their own homes they have to look elsewhere.

On three or four nights a week the bright young bloods invite their girl friends down to these places. If the parties were quite alright nothing need be said. But young men don’t go to these measures for parties that are quite alright.

The truth is that they are wild affairs in the real sense and if a girl isn’t used to drinking before she goes there she finds it very hard to avoid it once inside. To put it briefly some of these well-educated sons of wealthy families are priceless young scoundrels and they don’t scruple to get decent girls along to these flats under the belief that they are coming along to an ordinary private party.

Of course there is nothing in the law to prevent people keeping such establishments if they please. At the same time it is not a practice that is any credit to the flash youths who have started it in Perth. As it is most of them have more money than morals.

So in their own interests we advise them to leave the flat habit to the older roués and enjoy themselves normally as the average healthy-minded young man does.

Private flats for young men are sure to cause trouble in the end.