Invasion Day 2024 - Pay The Rent
PAY THE RENT - PAY IT FORWARD - INVASION DAY
Despite it being shady-as to open on Invasion Day, this year, Roxxi’s Poolroom Tattooshop bucked the trend, offering free tattoos for First Nations mob, and a heap of well priced flash tattoos that were ally-friendly – to encourage people to wear their values on their skin. Then we donated all profits to Pay The Rent, a group of legends who work collectively to divert ‘rent’ money solely for the purpose of promoting the self-determination, economic independence and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Paying the rent feels natural to us, and important because of the land and history of where we conduct our business. Gertrude Street in Fitzroy is a meeting place for Mob – then, now, and into the future – but especially between the 60s and the 80s, when people were trying to trace their families after the Stolen Generations. So, it’s an honour to work here, on this land. Paying the rent simply honours the sovereignty of First Nations Australians.
Colette and Rob met with Kristy Dickinson, a Wiradjuri woman and creator of the wildly popular statement-making jewellery Haus of Dizzy, Like stars colliding, an instant and passionate collaboration was borne. This powerhouse brand’s IG clout and incredible energy helped connect us to thousands of like-minded people and expand our reach – the word was out there.
The day wasn't to be tokenistic nor were we tattooing trophies and Roxxi's Poolroom has always shown up: we’ve stocked merch from Clothing the Gaps, and sell Black Flag t-shirts. We hung a picture of Uncle Archie Roach and a poster recognising First Nations people as the traditional custodians of this land in the front window, hosted benefit gigs with Virus Sound System and donated the funds to community via Black Rainbow (positive health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBTQIA+SB community) and Change The Record (End imprisonment of Indigenous youth and children, raise the age!)
The tattoo flash sheet included the Aboriginal flag, the Māori flag as well as showing our solidarity with the people of Palestine, we initially kept what was suitable for allies/ mob a bit vague so that people could choose what they felt comfortable with, and each moment could be a conversation. Our fave homie Nathan from Bananalands stepped in and reiterated that art showing the Aboriginal flag was for Mob only. He also suggested we take a stronger stand before the event, rather than on the day. We accepted his knowledge and advice with gratitude and tattooers Rob, Cody and Anna adjusted their art accordingly while ramping up prior to opening.
The idea of opening our doors on Invasion Day led to a lot of talk, but conversation starters are a deadly way to chat to the wider community about the diversity and history of Australia – Blak history.
Despite being tired, overworked and mentally stretched, the Roxxi’s Poolroom clan took the leap and put themselves out there publicly. The online response was overwhelmingly heartfelt, and although a few people decided to flex on our social media, most offered us support and thanks.
The day itself was insane, overwhelming – and incredible! At 9am The Southern Warriors Motorcycle Club got tattooed by Rob and we stood tall with our Aboriginal community on Gertrude Street to send them off to rally in the CBD. What an honour.
Mostly Mob (although, not all) showed up to Roxxi’s to get tattooed on Invasion Day. We stayed open until 1am: conversations were had, tears were shed, hugs were shared, and while we didn’t get through the list of people wanting to get tattooed, we will – the Poolroom has pledged to continue to tattoo Mob who made it to us on Invasion Day over the next couple of weeks.
And we donated a tidy sum to Pay the Rent and the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network from allies who showed up to get tattoos, bought merch, snagged Haus of Dizzy bling, and supported First Nations Australians.
After a day swollen with emotion, community and pride, we decided we want to do this forever – but sadly, it’s a long way from being a sustainable business direction. So, we’ve taken our lead from the WAR Mob crew (Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance) and have set up a pay-it-forward platform.
Always Was – Always Will Be – Aboriginal Land