The controversial introduction of Sydney’s lockout laws has triggered a “renaissance” of “illegal” underground warehouse parties according to some club owners, as people try to circumvent the 1:30am curfew and 3am last drink laws that came into effect earlier this year.
“It’s definitely a renaissance,” said Spice Cellar nightclub owner Murat Kilic who told the Sydney Morning Herald he had lost much of his business to warehouse events. “The police don’t even know what’s happening, otherwise it wouldn’t be happening,” he said. “It just shows their lack of understanding of what lockouts are actually doing on the ground.”
The SMH report claims that club owners and partygoers in inner-city Sydney suburbs like Marrickville and Alexandria, places already known for their warehouse parties, are reporting an “uprising” in the unregulated events to an extent they had not seen since the 1980s.
Music promoter Sasha Skalrud said this week alone saw a “huge increase” in warehouse events. and that there are up to 15 parties in “definitely unsanctioned areas” each weekend, some with an attendance of 800 or 900 people.
“They’re completely illegal,” continued Mr Kilic. “We’re talking BYO parties where people are bringing their own booze, there are no cameras, there is grossly inadequate security, there are hazards everywhere. It’s exactly what the authorities don’t want.”
A spokesperson for the NSW police said that there had actually been a decrease in the rate of “detected” warehouse parties in the Marrickville area compared to last year, while Marrickville Council said it had not received any complaints in the past 12 months.
However Ian, a Sydney DJ, said that he too had witnessed a “huge spike” in warehouse parties since the lockout laws came into effect and was in attendance at a rave last weekend that was shut down by police. He is fearful that police may introduce a crackdown on the scene.
He said while not illegal, warehouse parties do operate in a grey area and some may “fall short” of regulated safety standards. “Because these are essentially private parties, people are taking care of themselves and taking care of each other,” he added.
Mark Gerber, owner of Sydney’s Oxford Art Factory and a noted opponent of the lockout laws, told the Herald he encouraged the expansion of raves and underground parties. “You need rebellion to create change,” he said. “It’s never going to end and it’s a good thing. Local councils should support it and not fight it.”
The news comes as the NSW government have opened up their parliamentary inquiry to comment from the public regarding the effectiveness of the new lockout measures in reducing alcohol and drug related violence in the Sydney CBD. Public submissions close on August 15th.