I Love The Nightlife

Kings Cross a Distant Cry From Yesteryear

If you never had anything then how can you understand what you have lost? This week has seen an explosion on social media about the current NSW policy of dismantling the night-time economy in favour of a select few venues in the Darling Harbour precinct.

We are well aware of the collective punishment we are undergoing in response to the despicable and deadly actions of a few uncontrollable individuals. So rather than rail against the savage death of the hospitality and entertainment industry either by over-officious policing, harassment of legal venues or just the plain lack of people actually willing to stay out in a city that has lost its soul, I would rather focus on the memories of what everyone is missing.

I completely understand how the victims of violence feel and I sympathise with their viewpoint but when fun-loving experiences are denied to an entire population are we not saying that as a society we are all to blame? I have not ever in my 25 years plus of clubbing been involved in alcohol-fuelled violence and nor am I ever likely to be. I love the spirit of the dance and the interaction, tribalism and the shared experience that night clubs represent.

So in no particular order here is what I miss:

Bar Hopping: Once a sacred rite of passage. Being able to allow a night to unfold before your eyes and at your feet as the outcome would be uncertain, unpredictable and unrestrained. Everything was in close proximity to everywhere else rather than an expensive taxi ride across town.

Day Clubs: The best. The chance to kick on and listen to the weekend wind down.

Variety: Enough clubs to satisfy everyone’s differing tastes in music. Now the public are prisoners of lowest common denominator music policies which lead to a comparable blandness only found in elevators or hotel foyers.

Social Interaction: Being able to select from a variety of venues meant that you could meet a variety of people. Meaning you could establish relationships. You were not forced to stay inside a location from 1:30am onwards, confined to base like a soldier who has lost his leave pass.

International DJ’s: Seeing the talent that the world has to offer in an intimate environment rather than a music festival. Venues being able to compete with the wage demands of international acts. Now that option is unavailable with internationals staying away as business models are unable to compete with other domestic cities let alone overseas.

Diversity: Seeing humanity in all its glory strutting their stuff at The Cross or Oxford Street. From the Night Walkers at the ATM’s to the bridal parties enjoying their last taste of freedom; From the Drag Queens in their nose bleed heels and garish make-up to the devotees of everything fluro. This was an education in itself and an experience not to be missed.

Freedom: The right to enjoy oneself in the manner of YOUR OWN choosing as long as it was within door policy guidelines.

Work: Employment for musicians, DJs, Hospitality Staff, Taxi Drivers, Late Night Convenience Stores and Fast Food Outlets.

Happiness: Missing out on the vibe and the music that lifts your soul.

Sunrises. Sunrises. Sunrises.

Income: When the navy ships dock at Sydney, where do the sailors spend their considerable pay? Tea and Crumpets at Government House?

Reputation: Sydney is now a cultural and musical backwater. The glitter has gone. Adelaide has a better reputation.

Passion: The passionate embrace of a dedicated nightclub community has been decimated by the killjoy actions of a few. Gambling is an addiction. Dancing is not. Which requires more social welfare support?

There is also plenty that I don’t miss; the toilets, lack of available transport, not having a change of clothes, queues, overpriced drinks, debating with security and lack of air conditioning; but the option to choose what and how I want to spend my life and my money is what irks me the most.

I am sure many of you have that special life-changing moment which only could have happened when in a nightclub. From establishing the veracity of astral transcendental travel to meeting a new BFF whose name you will never remember, to finding 101 uses for a beer mat. The fact remains it was fun. Ultimately that is what we have lost. That a couple of hairs, more than a few brain cells and at times a complete sense of dignity.

But did I mention Sunrises?

J B McCauley is the author of The King Of Sunday Morning

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