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Where to be queer and funk out

Here are the top places in Sydney's queer party scene.

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Artwork by Eloise Myatt

The lockout laws have taken an unfortunate sledgehammer to Sydney’s nightlife and culture. Luckily, this has disproportionally affected the straights, who don’t know how to party anyway. Despite taking a hit and with tragic closures of icons like the Midnight Shift, Sydney is still the queerest city in Australia with a vibrant community. Sydney still hosts the world’s biggest Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras (suck it Melbourne) and you can still very much go out for a boogie with the queer community. It’s so important to have venues where the queer community can go and be themselves, find themselves, and have a good time. The best way to keep Sydney open is to go out and support the venues fighting the repressive NSW Liberal government. Here’s my take on some of the queer places in Sydney, and how many funks out of ten they’re worth and how unlikely you are to run into Tony Abbott in them.

ARQ

Lets start with a big one. The slogan of Arq is “you always end up at Arq” and they’re right, you do. The place is open until 7am and with two levels and a smoking area known as ‘trash alley’, Tony Abbott is probably nowhere in sight. You can’t enter the club between 2-5am, but it’s still a very, very late trader. Arq has pretty incredible drag shows at 2am, which the whole top floor stops to watch. The music could be better though, with many of the gay classics shoved out for spacey electronica, which somehow doesn’t get the vibes going all the time. But who knows what it’s like on the non-free nights, as I am too poor to go.

VERDICT The music isn’t as funky as it should be, but the place is a staple and you really do always end up there. 6.5 Funks out of 10.

STONEWALL

Named after the iconic American queer rights riots in the 70’s at its sister club in New York, Stonewall is probably the number one place on Oxford St. With three levels, constant drag queening and a variety of vibes to choose from Stonewall is a place you can get your funk on. From the classy wine bar, to the people desperately looking for hookup on the intentionally dark third floor, Stonewall really has something for every level of trash. The music here is much better; on most nights you can hear a range of classic, funk and disco. Kicking on usually to around 4am and with a cage that suggests a whole bunch of sins that would make Tony Abbott uncomfortable, Stonewall is a must for any Oxford St night out.

VERDICT Stonewall is a classic that also acknowledges the radical history of queer activism. 8 Funks out of 10.

RED RATTLER THEATRE

Perched in lockout free Marrickville, the Red Rattler Theatre truly embraces all the things weird and wonderful about the queer community. From hosting a range of events like queer stories to Heaps Gay parties, the Red Rattler is something really needed and loved in Sydney. It is so great to have a queer venue that really seeks to platform those in our community who are left out and overlooked in queer party spaces. Women, Trans people, queer people of colour, queer people who are still figuring it all out and everything in between are welcome here, and it shows those who run the Red Rattler have put effort in to show it.

VERDICT Good, weird and gay AF content. 9 Funks out of 10.

BIRDCAGE

On one night a week but I wish it was my whole life. This place has everything: Free Entry, No Lockouts and disco after disco after disco. The best thing about it though is that it is a night for queer women. After your queer boogie warm up at Canned Fruit, head your way up Enmore Road from 11pm onwards to get the best of this gem. Venues like this are so important, to mount a challenge to misogyny in the queer community, especially in the male centric clubs of Oxford Street. Platforming women and non-binary artists you can always get an incredible range of tunes to funk down to at Birdcage. Clear out your Wednesday because you need to be down at the Sly Fox.

VERDICT 9.5 Funks out of 10. Seriously damn funky with good politics to back it up.

THE IMPERIAL

Baby she’s back! After a hiatus that left a hole in everyone’s hearts (look up the articles, it’s a long story with this one) the ‘Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ star is back with a vengeance and is ready to make everyone in Erskineville funky and queer again. Like everything in the inner west The Imperial has gentrified after many years of yuppie infiltration, but with the night club open and ready for your disco shoes it’s a must. One of the really nice things about the Imperial is when you sit down and watch some cabaret or a drag show, you feel like you’re back in old school Kings Cross before it went to shit. After a successful rebirth during Mardi Gras and many a party since, the Imperial hosts a wide range of events to tickle your fancy.

VERDICT Good to see her back. I am looking forward to seeing more. 8 Funks out of 10.

ALSO OF NOTE

Heaps Gay parties: despite always charging entry fees, these are some of the best parties in Sydney. Gracing many queer venues, live performances and an inclusive vibe make Heaps Gay a definite on the to funk list.

Landsdowne Saturgays: The iconic live music venue is planning to have queer parties every Saturday. With no lockouts and free entry, I am definitely going to fail my uni degree here.

Palms: Bangas are guaranteed here. However, everyone is old. Good on them I guess, but I prefer to boogie with my own generation. Go have fun in those properties you all own.

Tokyo Sing Song: Open until 6 am on beloved King St. It’s either really good here or just plain weird. I guess that’s just Newtown in general though.

Newtown Hotel: Hosting many drag shows and queer performances, the Newtown Hotel is just a classic pub but it’s queer friendly. The Newtown Hotel has $4 pizza for students which is seriously a big mood. Come for the pizza, stay for the gay. That’s my wrap. Peace Out. Straight People are Lame. The Funk Shall Live On.

This article appeared in the autonomous queer edition, Queer Honi 2018.