sydney's ones to watch (after dark) — part one

Is Sydney waving or drowning? In part one of our look at the scene, we ask some after-dark heroes for their take on the city’s party past, present and future.

by i-D Staff
25 October 2016, 2:15am

People have written a lot about Sydney's lockout laws: you know what they are, you know that clubs have closed because of them. You might've heard about the similar situation in London — the city has lost 50 percent of its clubs in the past eight years, with the biggest blow landing in September when Fabric was forced shut by a controversial investigation. It feels a lot like we're under attack — but it's not this way everywhere. Detroit just recognised DJ sets as cultural performances, and across the Atlantic, Berghain has been classified as a Cultural Institution, subject to the same lowered tax rate as classical concert halls.

So what's the difference between London and Berlin, or Deroit and Sydney? Is it the people? The clubs? The government? Why are some cities getting nightlife wrong, and some getting it right? Or, to ask a much easier question: what can we do about it? Quite a bit actually. In spite of the laws — or, because of them — Sydney's club scene has grown tighter than ever. Things certainly look much more dire from a distance. Up close, there's a good feeling in the city: like something big is coming. We meet the people behind that push and talk lockouts, evolution and the best remixes in the world.

Yemisul, 24, DJ

What do you do in the daytime, and what do you do at night?
In the daytime I work at my casual retail job, or I organise and prepare stuff for a monthly party I run with two other girls called GIRLS. I'm also working on making my own website at the moment: I want to produce my own podcasts, mixes and interviews, so most of my days off are spent in bed on Wix or Youtube looking up Photoshop and Pro Tools tutorials.

Do you remember the first time you ever stepped into a club?
Yeah, I was 17. I was modelling in a friend's label launch at The Dragonfly in Kings Cross, so I got to sneak in undetected. I think the thrill of being underage made it so much more fun. I spent the rest of the year chasing that same experience with the ID of a look-a-like who looked nothing like me in real life, but it still worked a treat. Identity theft seemed less threatening at 17.

Tell us the world's best city to party in.
Miami! There are strippers on sky high poles in every club, regardless of whether or not they're actually stripclubs. The nights really kick off at 2AM so you have time to power nap beforehand, which means you have so much energy when you're out!

What's you favourite song to hear on a dancefloor?
Hit 'em Up, 2pac

What's the best remix in the world?
Life of Peder by Lido

Is Sydney dying, or is it coming back to life?
I feel like we're in some sort of prohibition era. Of course it sucks, but it's made our approach going out so much more creative. I don't wear heels and dresses like I used to pre-lockout laws when I'd go to clubs. Now we're going to pubs, warehouse parties and house parties; so you need to dress to be ready for wherever the night may take you. That's trainers and jumpers. Because there's not that much on we're reaching out and becoming friends with so many more people — people outside of our immediate circle. A lot of us are so frustrated that we're taking things into our own hands and creating our own events. There's such a great energy when something cool is on. We make the most out of it.

How do we fix it?
Get rid of lockout laws, open more venues, put trust back into the people of Sydney, and really, really educate people about violence, sexual assault and drinking responsibly.

Tell us your top five Australia DJs.
DJ ATRO, Ebony Boadu, Swiss Dank, Cache One, and Anissa.


Candlelyte, 23, DJ

What do you do in the daytime, and what do you do at night?
I work as a waitress for the majority of the week, so I'm often enjoying the daylight as I'm serving someone avo toast. As for my evenings, I'm probably waking up from a nap and checking Facebook to see if I'm meant to be somewhere. On better nights I'm hopefully seeing friends for a drink, but maybe just cooking something at home.

Do you remember the first time you ever stepped into a club?
I would always hear about my friends going out with their older boyfriends in high school. Being the stickler for rules that I am, I remember thinking "Why can't you just wait until you're 18?" — mostly because I was jealous. Even at 18 I hated going out, because it would always be a pub in the neighbourhood. It wasn't until two years ago that I started going out to the club every Friday, getting dressed for the occasion and and actually liking the music that I was like "Duh, I get it now."

Tell us about the best night out you've ever had.
I spent last New Year's Eve in NYC, I'd just gotten a credit card so I was pretty financially irresponsible. I don't exactly remember the sequence of events but I started the night at a friend's house. I wore this pink dress of hers that honestly fit me so poorly, but it was low cut so I dealt with it. We went to a house party where I met a lot of Insta friends, then I bailed with a cutie to a club I don't remember the name of. It was a sweat dungeon: so hot, so sexy. Took a long cab ride home in the morning.

What's the best remix in the world?
I've played the Korn remix of BBHMM enough times that friends roll their eyes at me from that first Ayo.

What makes a great club a great club?
I guess we all know that if the music is right, the right people show up. These days I'll party in a parking lot if I have to. So I'll lock in DJ as the #1 most important element of a great club. However, a 'gram worthy space makes a big difference too.

Is Sydney dying, or is it coming back to life?
I wouldn't say it was dying it's just like, got an ice pack on. People are spreading out a bit more — it can make the experience more exciting, like a 'destination party', or just a pain in the ass when paying for transport.

Tell us your top five Australia DJs.
Jikuroux, my DJ mom number one. I love the EVE team, all babes. Miss CHANEL (Unofficial) always gets me in the mood, vibing myself and the closest boys. I've got a crush on Waterhouse, and also can we please bring back Queefy?

@candlelyte.c &

Cache One, 25, DJ

What do you do in the daytime, and what do you do at night?
I work a day job at a casting agency, do a bit of graphics stuff and design clothes on the side. By night I DJ, put on a few parties — Low Ton, Rapp Payback. I'm starting to dabble in touring too, that's something I want to do more of in the future: convincing people it's worth getting on a 22 hour flight to come and play.

Tell us about the best night out you've ever had.
One time I got a last minute invite to private party at Trump Room in Tokyo where Skrillex was the secret DJ and wound up making friends with Petz who is part of a very hype rap crew called YENTOWN. He and I are still in touch and last time I was in town he greened me TF out. Shouts to Petz.

What's the best city in the world to go out in, in 2016?
Tokyo, always.

What's you favourite song to hear on a dancefloor?
Pick Up The Phone, Travis Scott and Young Thug. Name a more iconic song from 2016… I'll wait.

Tell me what the best remix in the world is.
This year I've been obsessed with the LSDXOXO remix of Kanye's Freestyle 4.

What makes a great club a great club?
I think as long as the people are respectful, the DJ has good taste and the sound system is good it could literally be inside a cardboard box and still work. Actually I like that idea.

Where do you go after you get locked out?
Golden Century.

How do you make the most of the time you are in the club?
Don't eat before you go to the club. Go hard while you can — kick-ons in Chinatown or KBBQ. 3AM eats, Keep Sydney Bloated.

How have your and your friends changed since the lockout laws came in?
I think we support each other a lot — the scene never really feels competitive. We generally try to book one-another and find ways to include like-minded people. Lockouts mean that the people throwing parties are the ones who really give a shit. It's rarely an exercise in making money — to me that's kind of nice.

Is Sydney dying, or is it coming back to life?
It's well established that the Baird government isn't interested in nightlife unless they're profiting from it directly. They don't want young people to be in control, or make noise, or get drunk because it doesn't really work with their idea of a silent, profitable Sydney. The fight isn't over though: scenes have grown tighter and are really thriving because of the unfortunate circumstances. Club solidarity.

How do we fix this?
Firstly, try putting someone in charge of this who is under the age of 45 and has actually has some experience being a punter, I think Tyson Koh would be perfect. If the issue is violence (it isn't), then let's figure out how we can teach people not to be so violent. Let's train cops to handle incidences of violence better. Let's make sure we're funding late night public transport, so people can always get home safely. It shouldn't be this hard, and it certainly shouldn't be this embarrassing.

Tell us your top five Australia DJs.
My partner in crime, Chanel; DJ Atro, Strict Face, Jalé and Yemisul.

@cassnavarro & @lowtonlowton

FlexMami, 22, DJ

What do you do in the daytime, and what do you do at night?
I'm a Digital Communications Manager, who specialises in strategy and hot content production for brands. When I'm not throwing creative, yet office appropriate looks, I'm surviving on juices because finding fun lunchtime options in Sydney CBD is just not a thing. I'm also a Radio Presenter at Sidechains. At night you'll catch me DJing at most of the best venues in Sydney.

What's the best city in the world to go out in, in 2016?
I was well-travelled as a child, but less so as legal-drinking adult, so I couldn't tell you. But if you find yourself in Japan fiending for some RnB, you have to go to Harlem.

What's the best remix in the world?
A very good friend of mine Alexander Tulett is the ray of sunshine behind the greatest remix in the universe.

What makes a great club a great club?
I'm glad you asked. Please refer to the following comprehensive list: A full length bathroom mirror; a very good sound system; a pleasant aroma; engaged, vibrant and fun punters; an outdoor area; a switched on, versatile and skilled DJ and a bartender willing to make The FlexMami with a twist (Coke, 5 squeezed limes, frozen mixed berries and passionfruit). Obviously some are more important than others, but a space that reeks of enthusiasm and not musty carpet is the place where I want to be.

How do you make the most of the time you are in the club?
Know your order before you get to the bar so you're not carving into prime dance floor time and carry a compact mirror so you don't have to wait in the bathroom line to suss your look. Be present and roll through with a positive, receptive attitude. You don't go to the function looking for fun, be the fun. Importantly, spend hours on the dancefloor. Time flies when you're having fun, but time passes at a sensible rate when you're partaking in club cardio with friends.

Is Sydney dying, or is it coming back to life?
Sure the city's dying, but aren't we all? Let's grab that pessimism and throw it into between two freshly baked slices of positivity. To say the city is moments away from its last breath is a kick in the shin to the curators, event promoters and DJs doing their thing — and doing it well — despite the current climate. Sydney undeniably has room for improvement, but only so much can be done when we're fixated on the negative. Onwards and upwards, I say.

How do we fix this?
Leave your house and go out! Get amongst things. Be active, be present, be positive and switch up the narrative. Just the beat the man at his own game.

Tell us your top five Australia DJs.
Aside from myself, my favies are Atrovent, Aspartame, DJ Levins, Denzel Sterling and Kritty.

@flex.mami &


Photography Elliott Lauren
Art Director Charlotte Agnew
Hair & Makeup Graeme Cumming
Hair & Makeup Assistant Lynn Anderson
Assistant Lilah Merz

ones to watch
club culture
music interviews
cache one
cass navarro