In January, the NSW State Government passed laws in Sydney that enforced a 1.30am lock-out and 3am last drinks in a zone that stretches from Walsh Bay to Kings Cross and everywhere in between. Many at the time hailed it as the end of Sydneys night life with a burgeoning electronic scene seemingly stopped in its tracks and in its golden age. As expected the lock-out has sucked some of the life out of Sydney after-dark with the question bandied around, where is everybody? Well, while many are at home watching Harry Potter repeats (no judgement), there are still plenty of people hitting up some of the many events Sydney has to offer.
The State Government has opened its inquiry into the laws requesting comment from the public about the effectiveness of the new laws. You can submit your submission here. In the interest of looking at the glass half-full, here are the reasons why we should still be positive about Sydney after-dark.
Illegal warehouse parties
Theres a certain romanticism to the recent news that illegal warehouse parties are popping up around Sydney. While we dont condone the poor safety regulations, it shows that people are still keen for nights out with great music. Last week, Murat Kilic, the owner of Spice Cellar nightclub, which has been deeply affected by the laws, revealed to the Sydney Morning Herald that warehouse parties were occurring every weekend. Kilic told SMH of the parties, Were talking BYO parties where people are bringing their own booze, there are no cameras, there is grossly inadequate security, there are hazards everywhere. Its exactly what the authorities dont want.
Mark Gerber, the owner of Oxford Arts Factory also weighed in on the conversation saying You need rebellion to create change…Its never going to end and its a good thing. Local councils should support it and not fight it. Music promoter Sasha Skalrud added that there are about 15 of these parties happening every weekend, with 800-900 attendees. So, when there are tumbleweeds running through the Cross of a Saturday night, you now know where everyone is.
Given that its the middle of Winter, its a positive sign that great electronic artists are still gracing our shores. This year already weve seen the likes of Ryan Hemsworth, Cashmere Cat and Jamie xx post lock-out laws, all receiving great turn-outs. Nina Las Vegas’ shows saw Goodgod packed earlier in the year with a line-up that included LDRU, Cosmo’s Midnight, Indian Summer and more. Still to come were going to see some tours likely to entice electronic fans.
In the latter half of this year, BBE are bringing US producer Com Truise to Goodgod Small Club along with the Ryan Hemsworth endorsed, UV Boi, while also presenting LA duo Gladiator at Chinese Laundry. Objekt, Jam City and Laurel Halo are set to deliver triple the fun at Civic Underground with all three of them earning titles as some of the best electronic producers around at the moment. One part of Major Lazer, Jillionaire, is also bringing his high-energy show to Pacha at the Ivy. Just moments ago, BBE also announced that Samo Sound Boy and Jerome LOL will be heading to Australia in September as DJ Dodger Stadium.
Theres plenty of local talent to get excited about too with Motez, Banoffee, Mammals and Young Franco amongst a handful of great acts ready to breathe life into the city. Alison Wonderland, who is coming off the back off sold-out warehouse shows, will also play the Metro Theatre at the end of the month. Fast-rising Sydney producer, Kilter is also playing Oxford Arts Factory and judging by his mammoth Splendour In The Grass set, it will be one not to miss.
On the festival side of things, Listen Out Festival is set to bring Zhu, Four Tet, Shlohmo, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and more to Sydney and around the country. While Beyond The Valley on New Years Eve will see Alunageorge, Kaytranada, Dillon Francis and more in the country with sideshows surely to be announced soon.
When one door closes, another one opens, quite literally. Newtown has benefited the most from the lock-out laws because of its non-inclusion in the zone. Straight off the back of the laws, night owls began to flock to the Imperial off King St in search of some after 1.30am fun. Maker agency picked up on this and started Meanwhile, a club night on Fridays at the Imperial. Meanwhile lasts from 11.59pm until forever and has so far has hosted DJ sets from Rufus and Silversix with Wordlife and Linda Marigliano still to play before August is out. By all accounts, its provided some sweaty nights already. Sometimes innovation is the most powerful way of responding to a poorly dealt card.
Astral People are basically responsible for pulling everybody out of bed this year. Reaching their third year of existence, theyve put on some of the best events in the city. This year already, theyve presented Chrome Sparks Splendour In The Grass sideshow and hosted a stellar Vivid Live Studio party which featured Chicago acid-house act, Phuture, alongside L-Vis 1990 and rising producer, Bok Bok. Still to come this year they will celebrate their 3rd Birthday at Goodgod with Collarbones, Dro Carey, Rainbow Chan and more and present a joint Collarbones and Black Vanilla tour.
The most exciting thing to come is the return of their boutique festival, Outsidein. This year it will take place at Manning House in Sydney Uni and features their best line-up yet. On the said line-up is hip-hop group The Pharcyde, Seekae, Panthu Du Prince, Giraffage plus many more. I just fainted.
Clubs are changing things up
Its not an easy task to convince patrons to enter a venue that theyre going to be stuck in after 1.30am and not allowed to drink after 3am but many have risen to the task. Spice Cellar offers a mocktail and juice bar between 3am and 5am to keep clubgoers hydrated while it also has an after-hours event that kicks off at 5am for those with a bit of stamina.
Goodgod Small Club has been hosting some interesting nights to get people in before 1.30am and out in the Winter cold. Their 90s night a few weeks ago had queues around the corner at 11pm to get in, with many of those people staying until the music stopped at 4am. Theres still plenty of treats to come from Goodgod (and were not just talking about their new Jamaican Canteen). At the end of the month, theyll host Haters Club for those with a penchant for RnB. Bad Ezzy, Joyride, Shantan and Nacho Pop will be on the decks dropping beats that will most likely command all to get low. Real low.
Chinese Laundry relaunched in July with a Friday night bass-party called BASSIC and house and electro night LNDRY on a Saturday. While it reflects changing music tastes its also no doubt an attempt to get more patrons through the door given Chinese Laundrys reputation as an all-night venue. So far theyve hosted the likes of Motez and Indian Summer with a KLP party coming up in September.
Now for the serious part. Despite there still being plenty of reasons to don your dancing shoes and head out, its important for Sydneys long-term nightlife culture that these laws be dealt with in a conversational manner. The inquiry is the first chance for the public to have their first recorded say about the laws. Goodgods feature on FasterLouder said it best when it called music the main currency and alcohol the support act. Its the responsible side of the clubbing community that needs to submit to the Government with a well-thought out submission that considers safety, culture and practicality. This inquiry doesnt necessarily mean that anything will happen, but its the first chance to offer a formal submission en masse.
Finally, If youve been to Newtown of late, youd have noticed the queues around the corner to bars after 1.30am. Newtown has never been designed for large crowds of those ready to club, rather it has always been regarded as having a bar culture. There will come a time when accommodating the crowds in Newtown will become an impossible task. If the Government is concerned about safety first and foremost it should look at some of the bi-products of the lock-out and consider its main reasons for installing the law. Many of which are tainted by the fact The Star Casino precinct is exempt from the law.
Once again, you can submit your inquiry here. Until then, dont get angry, get even. Theres plenty in Sydney to do, even if you cant wander the streets after 1.30am.