Sydney’s hidden party scene
Despite the restrictions, there are a bunch of legends keeping the lights on in Sydney – even if those lights aren’t surrounded by security, noise limits, or licenced bar staff. So if you’re throwing an illegal party, how do you make money, keep people safe, have a good time, and dodge police raids and legal trouble? In the first episode of the Stoney Roads podcast, we meet Daniel Stricker, one of the Sydney-born promoters who’s done just that.
When heading out for the night, you normally have a clear destination or three in mind. But with an underground party, you won’t know exactly where the night is taking you, until an address pops in text message with one hour till doors open.
In this situation, there are a few things you do know for certain.
Firstly, you’re unlikely to see a horde of security eyeing you down while you dance. You know you can head to the bottle shop to grab your drinks on the cheap. And you know if you run into any unsavoury characters, their dickheadish behaviour will quickly be met with the door.
Besides the undisclosed location, you actually know exactly what’s coming – a night of musical freedom.
In 2019, the warehouse party scene has blossomed into a legitimate counter force against Sydney’s current nightlife issues. On the surface, it looks like a pretty picture for event promoters.
There’s little to no red tape, liquor licences, or limitations – that is, if you can stay under the radar. If you succeed, your ideas can flourish with a freedom that’s long gone from licensed venues.
But in exchange for that freedom, event coordinators run an endless list of risks and challenges unique to illegal raves. Think navigating cliffs and forests, stolen gear, to gunshots fired and police sirens.
So, how do they manage to pull these events off, and what happens when things head south?
In the debut episode of the Stoney Roads podcast, our host Andrew Cotman meets music and events buff Daniel Stricker. Dan’s been waging an unofficial war on forgettable events since the early 2000’s, throwing nights with the likes of Jamie XX, The Avalanches, Mac DeMarco and Kirin J Callinan through his record label, Siberian Records. He’s also the drummer in the Midnight Juggernauts.
Dan’s got a healthy resume of raves on and off the legality scale, pre and post-lockout. But this story isn’t about the lockouts. It’s about how the shockwaves that came afterwards forced Sydney’s parties through a necessary cultural shift.
“Everyone says lockouts are terrible, and I think it is really bad, but it’s also shaken things up a bit. It’s forced people to think outside the box, and that wasn’t really happening as much [prior to the lockouts]. There’s something a little bit special about that,” Dan told Stoney Roads.
In this episode, we have a chat about the memories, experiences and challenges, to the straight-up nightmares that have come from over a decade’s worth of throwing not-so-allowed events.
When a musician is in a creative block, sometimes the best thing they can do is limit their choices. Choose a certain instrument, sample pack, or theme, and stick to it like their life depends on it. Without the option paralysis, they can end up with something more innovative than if they started with just a blank page and a world of choices.
Dan applied the same theory to throwing parties in Sydney post-lockout. With the options limited, event promoters got more and more creative in how they approach throwing their nights.
“It’s much easier to go to a licenced venue and put on parties. [But] I didn’t want to have to deal with all the red tape. I wanted to dress the party how I wanted, make it as immersive as possible, put the band in the middle of the room, just do whatever the hell we wanted to do,” says Dan.
He’s noticed drastic changes in how law enforcement treat party-goers and throwers, and they keep worsening year after year.
“I guess when we were doing beach parties, if the police came down, back then it was like, “Oh, well there’s a lot of people here, there are too many people to clear out, just keep it chill.” And that was cool. Don’t know how that goes now,” Dan said.
Today, it’s unlikely you’d see that level of lax-ness. Just before the start of the year, two parties thrown at staple Marrickville locations Sashimi and Two Flies were raided by over 30 police on the same night. Both crews have been sent into an indefinite hiatus as a result.
Recently, Dan and his crew have had plenty of encounters with law enforcement that haven’t been as pleasant, to say the least.
“We did a party on New Years with Jamie XX and The Avalanches, and the red tape was crazy. We had to get everyone to sign a piece of paper before they came in, have all these buses and paramedics. We’d done parties there before with the same amount of people, but never that level of intensity. For me, the most important thing is the party and people’s enjoyment, so you don’t want people to know there was a whole bunch of shit going on.”
And yet, these promoters always find a way to keep going. No government or police force can flat-out end our love for a good night out. If anything, the limitations put onto Sydney’s creative scene have made promoters more inventive and determined, and punters more dedicated to helping keep the lights on, no matter where they are.
There’s no denying Dan’s slowed down his party-throwing pace post-lockout. But he didn’t pass on the baton without giving Sydney a few more unforgettable nights. In this episode, he reveals the lengths he and his crew went to, the experiences they’ve had, and the lessons learnt – all in the name of a good time.
Some of those stories involve being shot at, stolen equipment, dodgy ex-convicts, and phone calls from the NSW Police Force. Others tell the beginnings of GoodGod Small Club, the sun rising over a beach party on NYE, – the moments that make the hard work worth it.
This is the story of how underground homes for music, self-expression, and creativity are keeping our city moving.
Stream episode 1 of the Stoney Roads podcast below;
This story is one of many features, stories, competitions, podcasts and parties in partnership with spiced rum devotees Baron Samedi! Like us they share a desire for a vibrant and thriving Sydney nightlife and celebrate the creativity that only comes to life after dark. Follow them on Facebook for exclusive parties, comps and news.