A bar man­ager, a DJ, a cinema owner and an artist re­flect on how life in the city has changed

Time Out (Sydney) - - LOCKOUTS -

Amelia Jen­ner, ra­dio host and DJ

When I moved from Bal­larat to Syd­ney in 2010 I hardly knew any­one here. I didn’t have any plans to be­come a DJ or ra­dio pro­ducer. I got a job in re­cep­tion at FBi af­ter fail­ing to get into pre­sen­ter-train­ing two years in a row. It was only then that op­por­tu­ni­ties in mu­sic started open­ing up for me. Even­tu­ally I got the all-nighter slot, which I did fort­nightly be­fore I landed a spot on the Bridge pro­gram.

Back then, nights out in Syd­ney didn’t leave you feel­ing dis­ap­pointed. My for­ma­tive nights were spent at World Bar: stay­ing out un­til 6am was like a rite of pas­sage. Half of the great part of go­ing out and see­ing mu­sic was also be­ing able to go out­side and talk to your friends in be­tween sets. It was about be­ing able to go into the club space, come out­side, re­fresh your­self, go back in. Now it’s just: “No, you must stay inside or go home.” I re­mem­ber the first time I was re­jected from Good­god be­cause it was 1.31am.

When dig­i­tal sta­tion FBi Click launched in 2014 I was in­vited by Mealo (Me­lanie Otuhouma) to start our own ra­dio show, Body Prom­ise. That’s when I learned to DJ and got my first gig. These days it’s such a shame to see pro­mot­ers strug­gling to find suit­able venues or ful­fil their vi­sions of par­ties that don’t run the risk of get­ting shut down be­fore they even start. It also makes it more and more dif­fi­cult for young artists to play and be heard.

My ul­ti­mate dream would be to start a lo­cally fo­cused record la­bel and hold par­ties in its name, but I’m in­creas­ingly con­scious of the hur­dles the lock­out laws present. There are so many great mu­si­cians here but peo­ple are pack­ing up and leav­ing or giv­ing up mu­sic al­to­gether. Be­fore, there was re­ally a feel­ing of ‘You can do what­ever you want’. Now it’s al­ways in the back of my mind, ‘Is there any point?’ As told to

Gina Kar­likoff

Ab­dul Ab­dul­lah, artist

When I de­cided to move to Syd­ney, lock­out laws were not yet in place, but by the time I ar­rived, they were in full force. Al­though our in­dus­try isn’t di­rectly tied to the city’s nightlife the lock­outs none­the­less af­fected us. Many emerg­ing artists have other jobs to sup­port them­selves and many choose hos­pi­tal­ity be­cause its flex­i­bil­ity al­lows them more time in the stu­dio. With these hours cut, they’re not able to af­ford the same stu­dios and ma­te­ri­als. To add to this, exhibitions are held in the lock­out zone, mean­ing that there’s nowhere to go out af­ter­wards. This in­dus­try is re­liant upon meet­ing and get­ting to know peo­ple, much of which hap­pens af­ter mid­night. The deaths that trig­gered these laws were tragic, but this isn’t the cor­rect re­sponse. As a re­sult, the cul­ture has shifted. I moved to New­town be­cause it re­minded me of Fre­man­tle in Perth, but now I avoid it. It’s too hec­tic for me – the vibe of the place has changed, it seems less friendly. As an artist, I’ve been priv­i­leged enough to travel with my work, re­cently to Jakarta and through Europe and the US. It feels strange to come back to Syd­ney af­ter see­ing so many dif­fer­ent cities and re­alise that of all of them, this is the strictest place. As told to

Cameron Ni­cholls

Lewis Jaf­frey, man­ager, Frankie's Pizza, Bax­ter Inn and Shady Pines

I first came to Syd­ney from Ire­land seven years ago and im­me­di­ately fell in love with the place. By 2011, the small bar scene was blow­ing up and the nightlife was phe­nom­e­nal. With my ex­pe­ri­ence in open­ing and cul­ti­vat­ing high end cock­tail bars, it was a per­fect op­por­tu­nity.

Now, two years af­ter the in­tro­duc­tion of lock­out laws, Syd­ney has suf­fered fi­nan­cially and cul­tur­ally. We as busi­ness own­ers and bar­tenders have suf­fered. At Frankie’s Pizza, op­er­at­ing time was cut by al­most 25 per cent. We’ve had to dra­mat­i­cally change our busi­ness model and we’ve been forced to cut staff and their wages. Many peo­ple who came to our venues hadn’t been drink­ing all night but work­ing. Bar­tenders and shift work­ers used to head to Frankie’s around 2am for a drink and a slice of pizza af­ter work. These peo­ple have worked a full day and de­serve a place to re­lax and chat with their col­leagues. Now they’re told to head home. Imag­ine telling a nine-to-five of­fice worker that they can’t get a bite to eat or a drink at 5.30pm af­ter work. I think [peo­ple] per­ceive that re­ally late at night all hell breaks loose, when it doesn’t – well run op­er­a­tions don’t al­low it to be like that.

I’ve in­vested six years of my life here and I don’t want to leave. I still hope that some­one is go­ing to come to their senses and re­alise this is a fuck­ing dis­as­ter and turn it around. As told to Cameron Ni­cholls

Bob Bar­ton, Golden Age Cinema & Bar and Right An­gle Stu­dios


I moved to Syd­ney nine years ago mostly for a more out­door life­style, but also be­cause I felt like the city of­fered a lit­tle more op­por­tu­nity to start new things cul­tur­ally. That was a hunch based on two rea­sons. One, that there re­ally was not much go­ing on in Syd­ney and so, at some stage there would have to be, and two, that I didn’t re­ally buy into the crap that peo­ple in Syd­ney were fun­da­men­tally dif­fer­ent in their ba­sic de­sires to those liv­ing in say Mel­bourne. Most peo­ple want to be able to meet at a place that doesn’t ring with the sound of pok­ies, many peo­ple pre­fer a de­cent café to a fran­chise out­let, and if you mixed even just these two ideas with the ge­og­ra­phy, ar­chi­tec­ture and weather of Syd­ney, you could see that there was op­por­tu­nity ev­ery­where to make an amaz­ing city even bet­ter.

I went to the very first meet­ing of Raise the Bar – the cam­paign that helped get small bar li­cences across the line, and the mo­men­tum be­hind this re­ally con­vinced me that the city was about to change for the bet­ter. In the last six years things in Syd­ney have be­come so much more in­ter­est­ing.

Lock­out laws, casi­nos, in­ner city ‘pas­toral’ res­i­dents, and coun­cil hoop-jump­ing all cre­ate road­blocks to Syd­ney be­com­ing truly in­ter­na­tional. With­out the city learn­ing to com­pro­mise and take risks, I think that many peo­ple will leave.

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