The Lockout Laws Have Been Lifted, But Sydney’s Nightlife May Take Time Recover


In November, the NSW Government announced Sydney’s controversial lockout laws will be lifted in the Sydney CBD and on Oxford Street from January 14 (bans will remain in place throughout Kings Cross).

From today, Sydneysiders will no longer be locked out of entering venues after 1.30am. The deadline for last drinks will be extended by 30 minutes at venues with good records, and restrictions on serving cocktails, shots and drinks in glass after midnight will be removed.

Bottle shop trading hours will be extended in New South Wales, and small bar patron capacity will be increased from 100 to 120.

It’s a welcome and necessary change sure to breathe new life into the Sydney nightlife, which has remained somewhat dormant since the lockout laws were first enforced in 2014.

And while the people of Sydney surely have plans to head out tonight in celebration, there is no denying it will take some time before the city’s nightlight recovers from its near-death experience and gets back into a healthy rhythm.

Jack Warwick, founder and director of Only Everything — a Sydney-based youth entertainment and events organisation agency, agrees it could take a few years for parties and events to operate in the ways they used to.

Here, he shares his thoughts and predictions for the years ahead.

How do you feel about the lockout laws being lifted?

“A lot of industry folk constantly say it’s too late for Sydney’s nightlife, what with hundreds of businesses lost plus countless opportunities including live entertainers who have had such limited chances for exposure for many years.

“It is a step in the right direction — and I’m particularly excited to see what parts of Sydney thrive due to the relaxation of the laws.

“I only feel excitement towards the news. Although it hurt us all, the lockout laws being lifted is nothing but positive for our city and its people.”

What makes you most excited about the changes?

“I’m excited to see new bars, clubs, and live entertainment venues open or perhaps even reopen, but most of all I’m excited to see up-and-coming entertainers thrive.

“A lot of Sydney’s creatives and artistic people have been relocating to Melbourne or LA in search of greater opportunity in recent years, but, with a bit of luck, I think we’ll see people returning and hopefully moving to Sydney to pursue their passions.”

Where do you think Sydney’s nightlife will be three years from now?

“With any luck, venues that managed to stay open will be thriving once more, old venues that were forced to close will return, and new venues will pop up around the CBD.

“With the introduction of the lockout laws we were forced to evolve in how we hosted parties and showcase live music, so I think the lifting of the laws gives Sydney a clean slate and for all to return, or for newcomers to have a crack.

“Personally, I’d like to see Sydney promoted globally for its entertainment and arts offering, enabling opportunity for our residents, young and old.”

Where to celebrate the end of the lockout laws

A bevvy of surviving Sydney venues will be celebrating with events tonight and through until the weekend. Here are some parties you can attend tonight should you wish to raise a glass to the end of the lockout laws.

The Imperial Hotel
Party for free tonight, Thursday 14 January, with DJ Lauren Neko from 10.00pm until 3.00am.

Stonewall Hotel
Take part in Gender Bender Bingo, enjoy some karaoke and grab a bite with dinner served by Meals on Heels. Tonight from 9.30pm.

Frankie’s Pizza
Hit up the underground pizza joint’s Emancipation Party tonight to watch Bare Bones and Arteries hit the stage. Stay a little, or stay until early morning.

The Bitter Phew
The Oxford Street bar is hosting a ‘Smell Ya Later’ party with a late-night sausage sizzle kicking off from 10.00pm. The team will be cracking rare kegs and partying into the night — because they can.

Hollywood Hotel
The Surry Hills venue is hosting a free event with a show from burlesque performer Christa Hughes. Spaces are limited so you’d better head on over after work.