I once wrote about Zwines in a magazine called Xtra, an offshoot from RipItUp magazine which lasted a few short months in 1980-81. In the piece I attempted to explain what Zwines was, building the story around the bands that played there. About a decade back I tried to expand on that somewhat, using some of the images available and the original band profiles from that August 1980 Xtra piece. It was partially successful but it was still hard to illustrate exactly what that grimy little place – one I described as either "heaven or hell depending on who you were and how far you were willing to push yourself" – was in words.
Zwines was a nightclub, but was unlike any other nightclub I've ever walked into. For about a year, it was the spiritual and physical home of the Auckland punk scene – a scene that nurtured, sometimes violently, an extraordinary hothouse of raw creative talent. Its influence still resounds, albeit increasingly indirectly.
A few months back we were given a disc of 80 photographs of the Zwines scene featuring some of the people who inhabited it. They were taken long before the so-called AK79 scene (often wrongly assumed to be the original Auckland punk scene) existed, and are mostly centred around the fabulous (the word is very appropriate) and absolutely individual The Idle Idols.
The Idle Idols were conceived by Auckland artist Paul Gibbs, the only male in the group. He gathered around him some of the most extroverted young women in a scene known for its extroversion. Could they play? It didn't matter – it was about the look and the concept and on both those levels they pulled it off with absolute panache and were never less than fantastic. Leonie Batchelor, the bassist, was about the closest thing they got to an accomplished musician - her boyfriend Mike Caen was in Hammond Gamble's Street Talk, although they'd all spent some time practising.
The photographer is Fiona Clark but they came to us via Paul Gibbs who gave them to AudioCulture writer Andrew Schmidt. We've done nothing to these at all — no touch-ups, no colour tweaks, they are as they arrived. It was June 1978, and Zwines was at its peak.
Fiona Clark, whose website is is here, has given us permission to exhibit these amazing images at AudioCulture.