Sydney night-life revived as Kings Cross lockouts lifted
Lockout laws at a rejuvenated Kings Cross will be lifted at midnight on Sunday, bringing it in line with the rest of the city and ushering in a new era for the notorious district.
Drinkers will be allowed to down shots after midnight and move between venues until 3am, as opposed to being locked out after 1.30am under the previous laws.
Police and bar owners met yesterday to discuss the new licensing laws, but Assistant Commissioner Mick Willing said the bad old days of the Cross are over.
In 2012 and 2013 the one-punch killings of teenagers Thomas Kelly and Daniel Christie at Kings Cross sickened the community and pushed the government to introduce the controversial lockout laws.
Once the heart of Sydney's red-light and nightclub district, the Cross was decimated by the citywide laws which were lifted for the CBD and Oxford St last year.
"We support a vibrant and diverse 24-hour economy in the CBD and Kings Cross, but it needs to be safe," Mr Willing said.
"We have been working with residents, businesses, even cab drivers - all the stakeholders - and we all want to move forward.
"We all want to move forward. Kings Cross has changed, it's not the same place it was years ago, but it's incumbent on all of us that this is built on and maintained.
"That means it's not just centred on alcohol, but around entertainment and restaurants, which we are seeing there.''
Most of the bigger and seedier nightclubs have gone because of the lockout and COVID.
Now, only a handful of strip clubs remain on Darlinghurst Rd, a far cry from pre-lockout days.
"We are confident that Kings Cross has changed and obviously we will have a few more police on later at night,'' Mr Willing said.
"How we police the district will depend very much on what happens over the next few weeks and months.
"We have the flexibility to adapt as the need arises."
Bar owners are anticipating a boom in not only their businesses, but new venues in the area.
"Removing those restrictions finally in the Cross gives more confidence for businesses to open up new hospitality venues," said Brandon Martignago, owner of Dulcie's bar on Darlinghurst Rd.
"We expect more clients and I think we will see more small bars and restaurants start opening up."
But the government has warned it will be watching closely and will review the impact on the Cross in 12 months to see how the changes play out.
It has also kept the use of the ID scanner system, with some venues to record patrons' IDs during busy times such as Friday and Saturday nights.
CHANGES FROM MARCH 8
- The 1.30am "lock out" will be removed, so patrons can continue to enter venues like pubs, bars and nightclubs beyond that time
- The standard 3am "last drinks" time will increase to 3.30am
- Blanket restrictions on certain drinks, shots, discounted cocktails and use of glass after midnight will be lifted
- Requirements for RSA marshals and CCTV will no longer apply.
THE BANDS ARE BACK IN TOWN
Gigs are back.
After COVID shut down Sydney's live music scene, the bands are back together and the pubs are rocking again.
Months on from what was a ghost town, established inner-city pub venues like the Lansdowne, the Bridge, the Chippo and the Vanguard are being joined by smaller bars and clubs hosting gigs most nights of the week, featuring local independent bands.
"I think people realised how much we need live music," Simran Sultana said before her gig at Newtown's Vanguard.
Venues are still at reduced capacity, at about 30 per cent less than capacity but as restrictions ease, and capacities rise, more venues are willing to book gigs to try and promote more bands.
"It's good to see the local music community get behind these venues," said Jack Rule from Music and Booze Co who books gigs around Sydney.
With music fans itching to go see more shows after being stuck inside, gigs have been selling out, some even before the doors open. "Most of our shows have been sold out, but we hope to see this still happen when people are allowed to stand and dance again," said Euan Hart from Sydney band Last Thursday.
Oscar Byrne from 2CER said: "A lot of places have to book gigs as people are dying to see music and with lockouts easing we may see more gigs and music in the Cross again."
Originally published as Sydney night-life revived as Cross lockouts lifted, live gigs return