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Why is Sydney Nightlife so Cliquey?

Sydney

Why is Sydney Nightlife so Cliquey?

Sydney gets a bad wrap for being cliquey, pretentious and difficult to meet people, which all contribute to the perception of Sydney’s nightlife being subpar. We’ve come up with some ideas for why this is the case, aside from every second person acting like a microinfluencer.

Transport Infrastructure 

Getting from Bondi or Coogee to the CBD is a fucking ‘mare, especially when your Uber Driver Pavel is cancelling your trip from Beachy to Bungalow.

Sydney was the main convict colony of Australia with more than half of the convict population. Unlike other cities built by“settlers”, convicts built Sydney roads, farms and factories on Aboriginal/FirstNation Peoples’ tracks in an unstructured manner. 

This infrastructure was not built with the foresight millions of people would immigrate to Sydney over the following 160years. As a result, it is LITERALLY more difficult to travel between places than other cities. 

A History of Homosexuality 

Homosexuality was common when convicts first arrived, which led to a strong community forming concentrated along Oxford St. 85% of convicts were male and Sydney had a major naval base in the middle of the harbour with many sailors and naval staff, which comprised mostly of men. The female convicts were matched up with the Governors and Officials rather than the male convicts. Funnily enough it has now completely reversed, English lads arriving in Australia living in apartments with 3 other stinky blokes with the same haircuts towel up at the Pav and Bay.

Homosexuality was considered a ‘problem’ back then and the British Parliament began incentivising female and family settlers to go to Sydney. Covert homosexuality occurred along Oxford St, which was referred to as “The Golden Mile”. 

Oxford St remains an extremely welcoming area to the gay community, which is undeniably a good thing and adds vibrancy to Sydney’s nightlife. It is an example though of a different subculture being segmented into a highly concentrated area.

White Australia Policy & Mass Immigration

Sydney is considerably more multicultural than many other cities in Australia, but like the example above different cultures tend to populate in concentrated areas. E.g. Vietnamese heritage is common in Cabramatta and Chinese backgrounds are common in Chatswood. 

From 1901-1945 the White Australia Policy meant the vast majority of immigration was from Europe, but post World War Two this policy was unwound and droves of people immigrated to Australia. To reconcile this sudden shift, cultures/ethnicities amalgamated in the same areas, rather than dispersing throughout the city. 

Money

Sydney is generally a rich city. It means your divorced friend’s Mummy and Daddy who are both lawyers vie for the same mansions in Bellevue Hill and Mosman.

The wealth create bubbles, namely in the Eastern suburbs and North Shore, where all these people live in the same area and go to private schools. You’re hard pressed to convince an Eastern Suburbs resident to head out to the Steyne in Manly, let alone hang out with someone that goes to a public school.

The Loss of Kings Cross

There is no major strip in Sydney with multiple prominent bars and clubs. Instead, the major bars and clubs are spread out across the city, meaning people tend to go out near where they live or choose one venue to go to. A bit like half our audience who message in about the same venue every week.

The lockout laws introduced in 2014 disallowed entry into bars and clubs after 1:30am in the city and surrounding areas. Despite being unwound in 2020, the laws destroyed Kings Cross, Sydney’s key nightlife strip before the lockout laws. 

Can We Become Less Cliquey?

All the above or either unchangeable or very difficult to change. We also would not want to change some of those features, such as Oxford St and the fact that so many cultures exist in Sydney. 

However, we believe it is beneficial to bring more people from Sydney together, as it makes our nightlife more vibrant and reduces the perceived cliqueness of the city. A couple of things that would help do this are:

Bring Back a Nightlife Strip

Having a nightlife strip, like Kings Cross, is integral to allow people from all across Sydney to come to one place. 

Laws and regulations need to change to make it easier to open and operate bars and clubs. Difficulty obtaining and abiding by bar and club licences is a big disincentive to opening a venue. Strict operating hours and rules about promoting drinking remove nearly all individual responsibility to safely drink and puts an unreasonable amount of onus on the venues. 

These strict rules should be altered, to focus on making nightlife safe and less on suffocating venues and their owners. If this was to occur, over time there would be more willing people to open venues and with more options, hopefully people would start going out or go out more often. To have a nightlife strip develop off the back of this, even more thought should be put into the regulations to incentive the opening of venues in specific areas, so that rather than bars and clubs remaining dispersed across the city there is an incentive to congregate to one area.

Public Transport

More so than other cities, public transport is extremely important to encourage people to move around and leave their area. Because different areas, cultures and subcultures of Sydney are physically far apart, making it easier for people to move between areas is very important. 

In particular, late night transport should be made available to facilitate going out specifically. 

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