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Journalists Reckon Sydney Is Finished Because No One Was Raging At 2am On A Tuesday

Sorry to say it, but after one weeknight without lockouts, Sydney apparently remains dead.

Sydney Lockouts

Sydney’s lockout laws are officially over.

As of last night, venues across the city (save for King’s Cross) are allowed to let patrons in past 1.30am, serve shots past midnight, call last drinks at 3.30am, and bottle shops can stay open until midnight Monday through to Saturday.

Peeling back the laws on a Tuesday night put venues in a weird position — celebrating on one of the week’s quietest nights could almost read as the NSW Government’s final ‘fuck you’ to nightlife.

Sure, it was planned as a strategic move to let venues ease into their new (old) normal rather than get overwhelmed on the weekend. But even with the peppering of parties announced for the night, it was always going to be anti-climactic — after-all, it’s a weeknight.

10 Daily and the Sydney Morning Herald both went out last night to report from the front-lines of Sydney’s nightlife, and found things a little lacklustre.

Which, uh, duh. It’s almost a non-story, though 10 Daily interviewed a handful of punters and venue owners about the changes, padding it out with a general optimism about what Sydney could be, in due time.

SMH senior journalist Nick O’Malley went a different route, hitting up a handful of venues across Circular Quay and Oxford St before deciding that “if not quite comatose, Sydney remains quiet with lockouts lifted“. It’s a sad beat up.

Accompanied by photos of near-empty streets and reports of the “largely barren” CBD, the article features a set of anecdotal opinions with various punters and a random taxi driver. Doom and gloom, everywhere the eye can see.

“Shortly after 11pm, a friendly bartender at the Angel Hotel, part of the Merivale empire owned by the Hemmes family, glanced at her four guests in the ground-floor bar and said things were busier than usual,” he writes, as if the Angel Hotel is somewhere that should be particularly busy on a Tuesday night.

Next on his pub crawl was Frankie’s Pizza, which by the photos of the line outside, was actually fairly busy — as it often is.

But when O’Malley and his photographer tried to enter, they were met “with the same cold welcome that along with the lockout laws had defined Sydney as such an unpleasant place to venture out in at night”. Door-bitches were always so warm pre-lockouts, after all.

“‘Where have you guys been earlier tonight?’ [the licensee] said suspiciously. No, she did not want to talk, no we could not come in. She wasn’t even keen on us taking photos in the street.”

Clearly, Sydney was doomed. The frosty reception had nothing to do with the heavy narc energy of a middle-aged journalist and photographer entering a pizza bar known for its punk bands. No, it’s Sydney who is to blame. After-all, some Portuguese backpackers were forced into a silent disco, painted as a sad concession rather than a dumb trend that backpackers would love.

Rejected from Frankie’s, the group head to Oxford St, where they find punters, drag queens and Christine Forster — City of Sydney councillor and Tony Abbott’s sister.

They have fun, but O’Malley writes that “darkness resumes” outside, and “gulls paced around in front of empty shopfronts”. Sydney’s own neo-noir Maltese Falcon is waiting to swoop.

While the article does concede it’ll take time for Sydney’s nightlife to change shape, it also relishes nailing the coffin shut for the time-being. It’s a shame the first night wasn’t more exciting, but it’ll come. Only someone with no understanding of nightlife would expect a Tuesday night to go off.


Feature image of Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross. Source: Sardaka via Wikimedia Commons.

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