We know Golden Age Cinema & Bar, on Commonwealth Street in Surry Hills, as one the more glamorous places in town to enjoy a cocktail and cult classic. Lesser known is it’s also a thriving live music venue.
On Thursday and Saturday nights, the Golden Stage hosts some of the country’s best up-and-coming musicians, as well as the odd surprise. “We have a hidden, Lynch-style mirrored music stage with an incredible line-up of music all year round,” says co-owner Bob Barton. “Including the occasional secret appearance by a big name longing to test new material to a good crowd.”
High profile singer-songwriter Lisa Mitchell recently played a secret show and invited pals Montaigne and Bertie Blackman to join her on stage. There was also the time Sir Elton John hosted a listening party at Golden Age to preview new songs.
Golden Age arrived on the scene in 2013 and quickly became a Sydney institution. Barton, who along with brothers Barrie and Chris had run Rooftop Cinema in Melbourne, saw an opportunity to revitalise Paramount House, an ageing Art Deco building on Commonwealth Street in Surry Hills which once housed Paramount Pictures. “We decided to restore the original screening room and create a beautiful adjoining bar to complete the experience,” he says.
In refurbishing the basement theatrette, the brothers set out to “create something more than a place to watch great films,” says Barton. “In everything that we do, from our curated Guest Presents series to our twice-weekly live music shows, we try to create experiences that bring people together in new and interesting ways.”
Today, Golden Age is part of a buzzing community of creative businesses that call Paramount House home. There’s Paramount Coffee Project, co-working outfit The Office Space, film agency Heckler and urban consultancy Right Angle Studio. Two new projects are in the works, too: Paramount House Hotel and Paramount Recreation Club, a rooftop space featuring fitness classes and a kiosk serving “healthy food – not ‘health food’,” clarifies Barton.
“It is very rare to find such a mix of quality businesses in the one space,” he says. “Each business gains energy from the next, and for the customer, there's so much to explore.”
The same is true for the neighbourhood that surrounds Paramount House. Some of Sydney’s most exciting venues are just a stone’s throw from Golden Age – among them Nomad, Bar H, Chin Chin and soon-to-open Poly, a new bar-slash-restaurant from the Ester crew. “Our little precinct is changing so rapidly,” says Barton, who still has a soft spot for Longrain, the acclaimed Southeast Asian eatery located across the road from Golden Age. “It's just so consistently great.”