Enmore Road institution and long-standing night-life spot Sly Fox has announced it’s closing this month. The final night of trade will be on January 18.
In a January 8 post on its Facebook page, the pub said it will host five “Last Chance to Dance” events to celebrate three decades of business (and four years under current management).
“We have fought long and hard over the last few years, especially over the last six months against horrific lies from local residents and arguably unlawful tactics of the Inner West Council,” the post says.
“To anyone who has seen their favourite DJ play, met a new friend, celebrated a birthday, watched a favourite band, chuckled to a comedian, connected with a random at the bar, had a mad solo night out, high-fived one of our bar staff, had a laugh with our security or simply danced the night away, we ask you to join us for one last dance,” it continued.
In November 2019, the pub’s owners appealed to the public to “save the Sly Fox” after their licence was downgraded to trading until midnight. Co-owner Kerry Wallace told Broadsheet at the time that if the venue didn’t regain its 24-hour licence, it would close straight away.
“A midnight licence will see the death of Sly Fox, I’m afraid,” he said. “What’s sad is that council knows this; they know very well that without us being able to trade late into the morning – like Sly Fox has done with no problems for 21 years – the business model is crushed, and it will be another addition to the list of Sydney venues that have closed.”
The 24-hour licence was first granted to Sly Fox, under previous owners, in 1998. It expired the next year, but the pub continued to trade under those hours until 2016 when NSW police, on an inspection relating to the controversial lockout laws, realised it had been operating without a licence for 17 years.
What followed was a battle for the longstanding institution to regain its 24-hour licence. After a new development application; a transition to silent-disco headphones (for three years the venue had patrons wear headphones from 3am to 6am to keep the noise down); $100,000 in soundproofing equipment; objections from concerned citizens; submissions of support; a change.org petition, and multiple back-and-forths with the local council, Wallace and his team have decided to close the venue for good.
“It’s easy in sad situations like this when the ‘small guys’ like us are targeted, to be negative when having to announce to the public the unfair closure of your venue, extreme loss of personal money and hard work from a huge number of people to supply entertainment to the surrounding residents and beyond,” the Facebook post continued.
In a statement, Inner West Council clarified that it had approved Sly Fox’s development application on December 10, 2019 to continue trading between midnight and 3am, though the 24-hour, seven-day licence the pub originally applied for was denied.
The extended hours were “subject to a two-year trial period, less than the four-year trial recommended by Council planning staff,” according to the statement.
Last year, Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne told Broadsheet he was sympathetic to late-night venues affected by the lockout laws, and was throwing his support behind them.
“We’ve seen this story so many times, where longstanding cultural institutions come up against bureaucratic hurdles, driven largely by unreasonable noise complaints,” he said. “At a time when lockout laws are being repealed, we need to do the opposite and [develop] policy solutions to encourage live music.”
He added, “I’ve made a decision as mayor that the situation is so dire that I’m going to work with venues across the inner west. I’m going to be on their side working with them. Whoever is determining these [development applications] needs to acknowledge how strong the community sentiment is.”
Sly Fox’s Last Chance to Dance events are on January 10, 11, 15, 17 and 18.