THIS is how a night out with friends can turn horribly wrong in an instant.
One minute you are having a great time, laughing, dancing, then you decide to leave the venue and head home.
The next minute the police are pouring water into your burning eyes to distil the after effects of pepper spray.
That is the scene that played out a few shops down from the Occidental Hotel on Saturday night at 2.45am, 15 minutes before closing time.
Police were across the road from the venue dealing with a man vomiting on the footpath when they saw three men aged between 18 and 23 in a fist fight.
The officers ran across the road and resorted to the use of pepper spray to break them up.
One man was charged with two counts of assault and one man was taken by police to hospital with facial injuries.
About six officers arrived after the assault and there was blood spattered on the footpath.
The 23-year-old man was charged with two counts of assault.
Until 2.45am the night had gone relatively well for patrons and staff at the Occidental Hotel.
The atmosphere was vibrant, staff had reported no trouble, there had not been any signs of aggression.
Seeing the aftermath of the assault, was for me as a young woman, terrifying, because it demonstrated how quickly these events can happen.
The bruises on the faces of two of the men were instant.
General manager Don Scholte said door staff had refused entry to the 23-year-old-man because he arrived after the 1am curfew.
The facts of the assault are in dispute and will be in court in March.
One of the men involved in the fight described the pain from the pepper spray as excruciating.
“It bloody hurts, I can tell you that much, it really, really hurts,” he said.
Police administered first aid and washed the man’s eyes out with water.
The man said it provided little relief. The effects from pepper spray last between 30 and 40 minutes.
Mr Scholte said he was disappointed and disheartened that the night finished with an assault and that it cast a negative feeling on all of the good points of the evening.
“The night was travelling fine,” he said.
“It’s just one stupid element.
“He’s put forward the best argument against late night trading if you take only that one issue into account.”