This is how Sydney rolls. Moving from one end of the city to another, quite literally on wheels, is a mobile party to protest the death of Sydney nightlife. And it's beautiful.
Old school ravers will know the DSS sound system from many a party. It's a bad boy, next-level setup that can handle levels of bass not recommended by medical professionals. And here they are, just wheeling it around the city like some kind of dance party Autobot:
Naturally, that's not the system's final form. The real DSS system looks a bit different. Less portable. But still... I'm not even sure how they're mixing on that thing. Apparently there's a full set list of DJs and everything. There are reportedly around eight stages at the event, each playing different types of music, and all showing Sydney that, hey, it's actually cool to have some fun in this city once in a while.
It's been about a year and a half since Sydney brought in its lockout laws, restricting entry to drinking venues to before 1:30am and stopping alcohol service beyond 3am. The system was hastily implemented due to media pressure following a small series of deaths from coward punches in the CBD. NSW with a knee-jerk reaction to a non-issue? Say it ain't so.
Never mind these coward punching incidents have nothing to do with the times specified in the lockout laws. One incident was as early as 9pm.
Anyone who's been through King's Cross or Oxford Street since has seen that the places are ghost towns compared to their former selves, while crowds have been pushed to Newtown or Star City Casino. Great for the casino, and great for real estate owners interested in quiet. Not so great for everyone else.
So today, as if this were Footloose, dance is a form of protest in Sydney and many have gathered to throw shapes at the squares.
Partial instigators of the protest are promoters of Sydney's Drum n Bass scene, which has been having a tough time of late. Its best night out, Afterlife, has recently had to move from pub to pub, as places shut down — the last of which, the Landsdowne Hotel, will ironically become a music school. On the group's Facebook page, organisers Carly and James Hutchins commented that it's very hard to find a place outside of lockout that won't suffer from lots of noise complaints, let alone a venue that fits the vibe and logistical requirements of your event.
Full disclosure, this author can regularly be seen at Afterlife, loving every minute of it (when there's a pub baller enough to host it). But no matter your music tastes, the issue affects everyone. Even those who move into a well-known live music district and subsequently complain about the noise will eventually feel Sydney's steady exhale of culture. And if we're ever to breathe back in, protests like this might be our best hope.
In the words of the organisers:
The decay of our nightlife is a visible symptom of a much bigger problem: the influence of money upon policy. As property developers, casino owners, miners, and bankers fight over their own agendas, the interests of the average person take a backseat. Reclaim The Streets is a protest and a street party, but most importantly it’s a celebration of what our public life could be. We believe the city should be affordable, open and supportive of everyone who works, lives or plays here.
Pedestrian.tv has a small interview with the organisers:
Some of the electronic solutions to walking around Sydney with a dance party are equal parts genius and hilarious. This guy is my new hero.
Damn the man. Save Sydney nightlife!
Top image by Cohen Schnierer Photos via Reclaim the Streets