It’s all over, people. Well, almost. On Tuesday, January 14, Sydney’s controversial 2014 lockout laws will be scrapped in the CBD and Oxford Street. The restrictive laws will remain in place throughout Kings Cross though, because the Joint Select Committee Parliamentary inquiry into Sydney’s Night Time Economy found that the lockout laws had not had a sufficient impact on alcohol-related violence in the area to repeal them.
But for those areas celebrating the new state of play, here's what you need to know about the post lockout-law age and – importantly – where you should go to party.
Venues are no longer obliged to refuse entry to punters after 1.30am, and last drinks will be extended by 30 minutes (to 3.30am) for venues with good compliance records. Remember shots? You can do those again, and you can drink your cocktail in glassware past midnight. If your house party is in danger of drying up, you can do a bottle shop run anywhere in NSW until midnight, or 11pm on Sundays. Small-bar capacity is also being raised from 100 to 120 patrons.
Where should I go to take advantage of this new freedom?
Basically any venue in the CBD and its surrounds, including Darling Harbour, Chinatown, The Rocks, Circular Quay and Woolloomooloo. Punters will also be able to revel in the changes at venues along the stretch of Oxford Street between Hyde Park and Taylor Square, plus the surrounding parts of Darlinghurst and Surry Hills. The new light rail should help to get you in, out and around safely.
Will Kings Cross ever get a break?
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has said the laws will be reviewed again in another 12 months, which means there’s hope for Sydney’s former late-night hub. But the premier has also said that if things regress in that time, the whole city could go back to square one. Please, no one screw this up.
Did the laws even work?
The debate surrounding the efficacy of the laws is ongoing. On the one hand, the economic impact on the night-time economy can’t be understated: City of Sydney Council says that nearly 500,000 young people have stopped visiting the city, causing multiple venue closures and costing billions in revenue. According to an independent report, Sydney night-time economy has been losing out on $16 billion a year.
On the other hand, medical experts – including nurses and doctors from Darlinghurst’s St Vincent’s Hospital – say the laws have put a stop to the “conveyor belt of carnage” in its emergency room. The NSW Nurses and Midwives Association praised the lockouts, citing a huge decrease in the number of alcohol-related injuries since the laws took effect.
Where should I celebrate?
Pizza, karaoke and late-night fun on Tuesday, January 14
Frankie’s Pizza was a routine stop on those late, pre-lockout nights, so the bar and pizza parlour is throwing an Emancipation Party to celebrate the return of those glory days. Catch performances from Sydney bands Bare Bones and Arteries, plus hard-rock karaoke from 9pm till late, late, late.
Beers and snags on Tuesday, January 14
Another Oxford Street venue is getting in on the action: beer bar Bitter Phew is toasting the end of the lockout laws with a late-night sausage sizzle called Smell Ya Later, Lockouts! The beers (rare kegs from the cellar) will be flowing from 3pm, and the sausages will be sizzling from 10pm.
Party Hollywood style on Tuesday, January 14
Surry Hills pub the Hollywood Hotel, is celebrating the removal of what it describes as the “draconian” lockout laws with a free show from cabaret and burlesque performer Christa Hughes, who’ll be bringing some of her muso chums along too. Reserve a spot so you don’t miss out.
Good old-fashioned fun on Tuesday, January 14
Long-time Rocks party pub The Orient Hotel wants to reignite Sydney with something simple: shots after midnight, drinks served in actual glasses and entry after 1.30am. Groundbreaking.
Free DJs plus tiki drinks on Friday, January 17
Oxford Street tiki bar The Cliff Dive is going hard with its celebration, aptly named “Sydney’s All-Star DJs Celebrate End of Lockouts!” Entry is free and drinks are $5 before 10pm. Party-starter DJ Levins will be playing, along with DJ Klasik and Shantan Wantan Ichiban.
Sticking it to the man on Friday, January 17 and Saturday 18
The Flinders Hotel closed in 2015 due to the lockout laws, only to reopen in December 2016 with new management. It makes sense then that this notorious Darlinghurst party pub is happily bidding the laws goodbye. Its end-of-lockout House Party has 11 acts set to go on Friday, January 17. Expect dancing and lots of music until 4am. Then on Saturday, from 9pm to 4am, ’90s Rave will transport you to a time way before the laws were introduced. Glowsticks will be provided, so no need to BYO.
Cargo hosts a 24-hour party from Friday, January 17 to Saturday, January 18
Cargo Bar is getting straight back into it, hosting a 24-hour party from 6pm on Friday until 6pm Saturday. There’ll be live entertainment and DJs, and entry will be free after 2am (a nod to the erasure of the 1.30am last-entry law).
Keep Sydney Open parties on Saturday, January 18
Night-life champion Keep Sydney Open is throwing a huge End of Lockout party at Harpoon Harry. New York DJ Tim Sweeney is playing on the night, alongside Raw Silk (UK) and Sydney’s Simon Caldwell, Kali, Andy & Oscar and more. The crew is also donating proceeds to the RFS. Tickets and more info here.
This story was updated on Tuesday January 14.