The introduction of Sydney’s lockout laws has resulted in a rise in underground warehouse parties, according to club owners and music promoters, who say people are trying to escape 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks in the CBD and Kings Cross.
Despite the NSW Government’s implementation of new laws, which include 1.30am lockouts, 3am last drinks, and the 10pm closure of bottle shops across the state, “illegal” underground raves and parties have experienced a revival in Sydney’s inner-west suburbs, which is reminiscent of the 1980s.
“It’s definitely a renaissance” said Spice Cellar Owner, Murat Kilic, who told The Sydney Morning Herald he had lost much of his business to The Star Casino and warehouse parties.
“The police don’t even know what’s happening, otherwise it wouldn’t be happening” said Mr Kilic. “It just shows their lack of understanding of what lockouts are actually doing on the ground.”
Clearly fed up with the harsh new laws, partygoers are heading to disused studios and secret locations in areas from Marickville to Alexandria where they can let loose, while evading regulations and restrictions.
“They’re completely illegal” said Mr Kilic, who attended three warehouse parties on one weekend and witnessed indoor smoking, drug use and drinking spirits straight from the bottle. “We’re talking BYO parties where people are bringing their own booze, there are no cameras, there is grossly inadequate security, there are hazards everywhere. It’s exactly what the authorities don’t want.”
A NSW Police spokesperson, however, said the rate of “detected” warehouse parties in the Marickville area had actually declined compared to the same period last year, with only five callouts in the past six months. Marrickville Council (who pushed for the legilisation of ‘illegal’ raves last year) also revealed it had not received any complaints in the 12 months.
Meanwhile, music promoter Sasha Skalrud predicted a spike in illegal warehouse parties when the lockout laws were introduced. The promoter now estimates up to 15 parties in “unsanctioned areas” each weekend, some with 800 or 900 attendees, who advertise the events via word of mouth, social media and forums, to avoid tipping off the police.
Ian, a 23-year-old DJ and student, said that warehouse parties operate in a legally grey area, as some may “fall short” of regulated safety standards. He went on to say: “Because these are essentially private parties, people are taking care of themselves and taking care of each other.”
Contrary to popular belief, according to Ian, most warehouse parties were organised in agreement with the owner of the premises. He also said that the parties were much smaller than suggested, with 200 to 300 patrons, and he is yet to see a fight break out or an ambulance called.
Mark Gerber, owner of Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory and a renowned opponent of the lockout laws, told SMH that although he is “too old” to attend raves, he encourages the revival of underground dance parties whole-heartedly. “You need rebellion to create change” he said. “It’s never going to end and it’s a good thing. Local councils should support it and not fight it.”
A parliamentary inquiry into the new laws is now accepting submissions regarding their effectiveness in reducing alcohol and drug-related violence in the Sydney CBD. Applications close this Friday August 15, so be sure to have your say or forever hold your peace. That means, no whining on social media.