A Guide to Sydney’s Party Scene

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If New York is the “City That Never Sleeps”, then Sydney would be the city that sleeps in the afternoon to get ready for the night on the town. Sydneysiders love to party hard, and it usually doesn’t stop before the sun is up.

You don’t really need to be an insider to have yourself some good time - Sydney is a city that welcomes everyone with open arms and lays it all out there, withholding nothing from a curious vagabond.

Over the following lines you’re going to be presented with a recipe for quality night out in Sydney. This is by no means an ultimate guide to Sydney’s nightlife, but a simple suggestion that covers all the essentials and ensures an eventful evening/night/morning. Shall we?
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Setting the mood

Well, you can choose to throw yourself into the surf of the nightlife at full speed, but some might find it preferable to ease their way into the action and set the mood for the debauchery to follow. Everyone has their own definition of setting the mood, but one foolproof scenario is heading on down to the Darling Harbour. Why there, you might ask. Two things - scenery and cocktails. Grab a seat in one of the terrace bars overseeing the harbor, and sip on a cocktail of your choice while you’re soaking up the stunning visual of the harbor backdrop.

Harbour is usually pretty busy with a variety of open air events, from fireworks to various dances, so you might stumble upon something that peaks your interest, but even if you luck out remember that we’re just warming up.

Stepping it up

Were those cocktails nourishing? Yep, I thought you might like them, but let’s move along before we get glued to our seats. You were promised some sizzling hot action after all.

Traditionally, if fun is what you’re looking for, you would be aiming in the direction of the broader city center, with locations such as the King’s Cross (traditional red light district), Oxford St. (gay nightlife mecca) or Surry Hills (pub central). Unfortunately, fairly recent regulations prohibit you from entering establishments in these parts after 1:30, which, as you can imagine, ruined the fun for many a party animal. Actually, since the night is young, let’s head on down there.
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King’s Cross has been the subject of a thorough transformation from being Sydney’s unofficial red light district to becoming a respectable neighborhood, with mixed results. In practice, it meant that posh clubs and restaurants were leaning on dingy gentlemen’s establishments, and the night time seemed to draw the best and the best from both worlds (hence the lockdown regulations).

Oxford St. suffered a similar faith. Once the nightlife epicenter of the city’s gay community, in recent years it was populated with an abundance of “straight” venues, which resulted in mixed crowds and occasional incidents. These places are still fairly vibrant, but you have missed out on their glory days (or glory hours, since the action usually reached the boiling point well after midnight). It is still worth checking out, but you might not find what you’re looking for. One place you should definitely try is the legendary King’s Cross hotel, a multi-level all-purpose party engine with a dive bar in the basement, a vibrant pub on the ground floor, balconies and rooftops for lounging, a bandroom with live shows and DJ sets and plenty more. Essentially, this party chameleon allows you to dance, lounge, play pool, eat, drink, and be merry all in one place.

If you’re looking to party until the wee hours, Ivy is the place to be. A multi-level nightclub with all the glitz and glare you could ever wish for is wild at heart, and tends to get rowdy every once in a while, so don’t go there expecting a tranquil end to your evening.

A decent alternative to Ivy is the Goodgod Small Club, a cave like complex with a variety of colorful events from one room to the next. Some bit more laid back after hours options are Agincourt Hotel or Bondi, both popular “one more for the road” destinations since the lockout was enforced.

Now, order a cab and get some sleep, so you could continue to party tomorrow. Perhaps this time you can follow your party instincts and we can compare notes to see who had more fun.

Sydney Nightlife essentials:

Formal wear - Flip flops and shorts might get you through the day, but they won’t get you anywhere past the entrance to the hottest night clubs. Dress nicely for the occasion (hint: skip the jeans and don’t show your toes)
Shades - necessary by day, they are highly welcome at night, especially if you’re up for some discrete ogling (and who isn’t?)

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