Where The Streets Have No Shame: ACDC Lane

In 2004 a mighty battle raged at the Melbourne City Council. For months, behind closed doors, alliances were forged and broken, skirmishes fought and lost, decisions made and unmade. Even a Queensland church demanded its say.

What issue was so contentious even a House Of God had to be involved?

The suggestion that a small laneway be named after a thirty-year-old band.

After months of discussion, hints, confirmations and denials, the Council finally agreed to rename Corporation Lane… AC/DC LANE!

Obviously the city was over-run by crazed rock fans, bikers, post-atomic mutants and then finally God destroyed the city with pestilence and fire. Wow, do we look stupid now?

AC/DC certainly have a hard-rocking reputation, what with all those songs involving shaking things all night long, and doing dirty deeds inexpensively (and that’s not even starting on all the ones with “rock” in the title). And they’re probably not the music of choice for nearby restaurant Rosati or the local RSL, who were leading the push against the new name. I suspect, though, that the change finally went through because whispered to Lord Mayor John So, “Just think, John… photo opportunity…”

“Get me some bagpipe players and you’re on!”

So on October 1st, 2004, ACDC Lane was officially born (the lightning bolt traditionally used to separate “AC” and “DC” was not allowed under the rules of the Office of the Registrar of Geographic Names.)

Lord Mayor John So – smelling the cameras – launched ACDC Lane with the words, “As the song says, there is a highway to hell, but this is a laneway to heaven. Let us rock.” Bagpipers then played It’s A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll).

Visiting ACDC Lane on a Monday afternoon, I didn’t see many about to rock. Mostly just office workers having a ciggie on their lunch break. Also, there’s sadly no takeaways on ACDC Lane, so no-one gets to make that playground joke that “It’s A Long Way To The Shop If You Want A Sausage Roll”. Although you could argue that their absence proves the maxim right.

In 2007 The Age reported that in the first two years of renaming, six of the ACDC Lane street signs had gone missing. It is the most stolen street sign in Melbourne, as this suspiciously street-sign-sized gap attests:

But it turns out Melbourne isn’t the first city to name a street after AC/DC, nor John So the first Mayor to use it as a photo-op.

No, that honour goes to the Spanish town of Leganes (a satellite of Madrid), and the mayor was Jose Perez Raiz. To add insult to injury, AC/DC actually turned up to the opening of Calle de AC/DC in March, 2000.  Here’s a picture (from AC/DC website Crabsody In Blue) of Angus and Malcolm Young with Mayor Raiz.

Doesn’t he look happy?

We’ve had AC/DC, then Dame Edna – surely it’s time for another Melbourne laneway to get the celebrity treatment? I don’t know if you’re reading this, City Of Melbourne, but may I humbly make a couple of suggestions of great Melbourne artists who deserve recognition?

I’m just saying.

Here’s some more images of AC/DC Lane.

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17 Responses to Where The Streets Have No Shame: ACDC Lane

  1. Dave AA says:

    A couple of observations;

    1) Mayor Raiz appears to have actually died and is being propped up Weekend At Bernie’s-style.

    2) I have a new theory that all this stuff about Asian sweatshops is just a diversion and sneakers actually grow naturally on overhead power lines. In the dead of night Nike employees sneak out with ladders and harvest them.

  2. Narrelle says:

    Barry Crocker Boulevard? Kamahl Walk? I like the idea of Little Pattie Place.

    Why stop at rock bands? Moonface Alley intersecting with Don Lane anyone?

  3. Dan Cardone says:

    Why not “Joan Ferguson Walk”? Affectionately known by locals as The Freak Walk?

    I’m going to vote for Little Pattie Place. Or possibly Denise Drysdale Drive.

  4. outlandinstitute says:

    “Don Lane” – that’s be brilliant. It would be covered in flashing lights and smell of scotch.

    David: What is the deal with the shoes? Why are there always shoes?

  5. Dave AA says:

    I wish I knew what the deal with the shoes is. I don’t throw sneakers onto powerlines. I’ve never seen any one else throw sneakers onto powerlines. I don’t (to the best of my knowledge) know anyone who has thrown sneakers onto powerlines. Yet there they are: evidence that every person really is an island and we can only ever guess at what motivates others to do the strange things they do.

    There is a story that the shoes are a ‘secret’ signal showing where the drug dealers hang out, but unless Northcote Primary School is rougher than I thought that doesn’t explain why there’s about half a dozen pairs hanging within five minutes walk of where I live.

    Not that I think about this way too much or anything…

  6. Dan Cardone says:

    The shoes IS a drug thing. Sorry to shatter your world David… My drug dealer used to sell from a school yard too, but I should point out that he was over 16 and it was always after hours. It’s just usually always a nice big dark place at night time where you can sell your drugs in relative comfort. Although I’m prepared to entertain the possibility that there may be another reason that shoes are thrown over powerlines.

  7. Dave AA says:

    I’m glad you only bought from responsible drug dealers Dan! But surely the police know about the shoe thing? Or do they not care?

    No, I believe the shoes are a poignant tribute to those who died aboard the Hindenburg. There’s literally no other explanation.

  8. outlandinstitute says:

    Look, I’ve heard the drug-dealer thing too, and I don’t believe it either. Do the dealers say “meet me under the shoes?”. Almost every street in Fitzroy has shoes, you’re just going to end up with drug addicts randomly wandering the streets… Also, it’s a bit obvious for the drug squad, surely?

  9. outlandinstitute says:

    I just discovered there’s a whole entry on wikipedia about this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoe_tossing

    Although the gist seems to be that no-one really know why poeple do this – “This practice plays a widespread, though mysterious, role in adolescent folklore in the United States. Shoe flinging has also been reported in Australia, Sweden, France, The UK and Norway.”

  10. Dan Cardone says:

    From Wikipedia (so you don’t have to look it up yourself:

    “Some say that shoes hanging from the wires advertise a local crack house where crack cocaine is used and sold (in which case the shoes are sometimes referred to as “Crack Tennies”). It can also relate to a place where Heroin is sold to symbolize the fact that once you take Heroin you can never ‘leave’: a reference to the addictive nature of the drug. Others claim that the shoes so thrown commemorate a gang-related murder, or the death of a gang member, or as a way of marking gang turf.[1] A newsletter from the mayor of Los Angeles, California cites fears of many Los Angeles residents that “these shoes indicate sites at which drugs are sold or worse yet, gang turf,” and that city and utility employees had launched a program to remove the shoes.[2] These explanations have the ring of urban legend to them, especially since the practice also occurs along relatively remote stretches of rural highways that are unlikely scenes for gang murders or crack houses”.

    and this, from Metafilter:

    “The only time I saw a set sneakers slung over a phone line that I thought was an obvious marker was a couple months ago in Southwest Philly. They were the only set of sneaks hanging from the wire that ran the length of the block and they were hanging directly in front of a house that had black plastic taped over all the windows. That struck me as awfully suspcious, as it was a high drug and gun violence area and there wasn’t like there were any renovations going on or anything. I was there to look at an adjacent property for a client (who refused to take it) and in the process of asking around with neighbors on the block I got someone to identify the house as an active crackhouse.”

    but this is my all time favorite discussion thread on the topic:

    “I never really understood what dangling shoes were supposed to mean until I saw some guy trying to get his shoes back down.
    You have to throw stuff at them repeatedly – hoping to just hit one of the shoes and have them flip back off – but you also have to take care not to break anything with the thrown object.
    Tennis balls would seem to be a good choice for throwing – baseballs, a bad choice.

    All the same, retrieving a set of dangling shoes seems hard to do with any sense of privacy or dignity… and that is ultimately my guess as to why they are thrown up there in the first place.

    (Unless, of course, you have a really good throwing arm… in which case, you are probably “cool” and your shoes are relatively safe from chucking.)”

    Mr Outland Institute, this is almost a whole entry in itself

  11. outlandinstitute says:

    Yes, I think you’re right Mr Cardone, there is an article awaiting in here. A great article I just found – “Drug dealers or just random shoe buffoonery?” “Mrs Jenkins at number 45 has a pair hanging from the wires outside her house – I’ll ask if she has any good crack on her – if she answers ‘yes’ we’ll know the Mail are onto something.”

    This poetic quote from the excellent urban-myth-busting Snopes.com:

    There’s no definitive answer as to why those shoes hang from telephone wires. Perhaps the answer lies within each of us.”

    http://www.snopes.com/crime/gangs/sneakers.asp

  12. Dan Cardone says:

    I just asked my mum what she thinks it means, and she said without hesitation that it was for drug dealers to mark their turf. So this means that A) it’s definately an urban myth, or B) I really don’t know my mother at all. I’m going to go for option A

  13. Anne-Marie says:

    Until now, I’d just assumed it was bullies removing the shoes from nerds and placing them out of reach. Dan’s mum seems more in the know than I am.

  14. Janet says:

    I always thought it was a part of the usual stag night festivities.

  15. Janet says:

    Actually, looking at those photos again, is it just me or is it time for Angus to hang up the cap and shorts?

  16. outlandinstitute says:

    Are you suggesting it’s wrong for a man in his 50s to dress like a schoolboy, Janet?

  17. Janet says:

    Only during the usual stag night festivities.

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