The prime time to have a seat secured and a drink in hand at Sydney’s latest subterranean house of pleasure is 11pm. Lights will dim, a sound will ring and all gazes will be directed to the stage.

This moment is the trigger point for Pleasure Club’s late act taking to the stage – replacing the guest-selected tunes bursting through the ’50s jukebox – as well as a tasty switch-out. The “dark menu” – which adds five classic cocktails to the eight-strong signature list – will be passed out, replacing the standard and signifying that the good bit’s about to start.

“I want everyone to be thinking ‘Is this real?’” Odd Culture’s entertainment manager Sabrina Medcalf says about the group’s hot new club. “There’s nothing that inspires all this except to see people have fun. You should be able to feel it as soon as you walk down the stairs – we’ve been whispering into the walls, trying to inspire all this cool shit.”

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The 120-seat Newtown venue was first expected in mid-2023, in an underground spot once home to an X-rated video shop. But the wait’s proved worth it – Pleasure Club is a spectacular sensory experience. The rabbit warren of a club has debauchery-encouraging nooks; a plush “pleasure lounge” (which doubles as a green room for performers); a pool table and a dedicated cocktail lab that’s fuelling the world-class beverage roster.

Said drinks come courtesy of the group’s beverage manager Sam Kirk, who’s bringing a hot dose of nostalgia with the signature menu (developed in collaboration with Matt Whiley of the just-closed Re). “The idea’s to take the drinks we’re making really seriously, but approach it in a really fun, lighthearted way,” Kirk tells Broadsheet. “Everything’s pretty light, no heavy drinks or anything overly alcoholic.”

Passion Pop is a short drink bringing an adult take on the goon-adjacent OG. “We got so dead close to it, without the sugar or the hangover. It’s passionfruit marigold, a native Australian leaf; clarified passionfruit juice; yuzushu; and lemon myrtle Campari, which balances it out.”

The seasonally changing list is dubbed A Pleasure Club Story, and debuts with the Australiana-drenched Nostalgia Machine. The cocktail lab has “all the tech” to roll out all the tricks. Take the Martini-style Chicken Parm, which comes topped with a skewered pickle. It’s a no-go for vegetarians, with distillates of both cheese and bread joining bacon-fat vodka and chicken salt, for a sip that truly does shout parmi.

The dark menu adds a fiery watermelon Margarita, an “everything” Martini and a tropical-leaning Negroni to the mix.

Drink in hand, creatives of all sorts take the stage. The opening roster brings Kiama local and International Blues Challenge winner Frank Sultana, the 12-piece Dane Blacklock & the Preacher’s Daughter (an “amazing, gritty, blues abomination” according to Medcalf), and the flares-wearing, ’70s-rock-influenced Large Mirage. The sword-swallowing Porcelain Alice will “make you cringe in a good way”.

The real kicker is Jazz Sabbath – the side gig of former Black Sabbath keyboardist Adam Wakeman – playing on July 25 and 26. “They do covers of Black Sabbath in jazz, basically. They’ve never been to Sydney and are doing a show here, two nights, for free. It’s insanely exciting,” Medcalf buzzes. “Everything I do is to get Ozzy Osbourne’s attention – it’s all for him. He’s liked the post, which is cool. It’s pretty amazing to have those calibre of musicians wanting to come to small-capacity venues like us.”

While no two nights will be the same, once you’ve descended into Pleasure Club, you’re in for a spectacular time.

Pleasure Club
6 Wilson Street, Newtown

Hours:
Wed to Sun 4pm–4am

alwaysapleasure.club
@alwaysapleasure.club