Why I’m All For The Sydney Lockout
This week the champions of the blatantly obvious have recommenced their chirping about the overwhelming crappiness of Sydney’s lockout laws. They have a negative effect on the harbour city’s nightlife, they decry, and ambience of the place is an international embarrassment, they wail.
Yeah, we get it. You want to party and you want to bolster, not hinder the city’s nocturnal economy and these laws are making it difficult. It sucks.
What started out as a body of rousing articles written by well-meaning boozehounds, the howls of sober complaint reached their respective crescendos on Tuesday in response to Premier Mike Baird’s gloating, out-of-touch and off-the-mark social media comments in defence of the Draconian drinking laws.
Violence in the CBD was down, he boasted, and the “drinking ghettos” had been eliminated (yeah, Mike likened Sydney’s previous nightlife precincts to the parcels of land reserved for the world’s most oppressed people from the Warsaw Ghetto to Kings Cross, Rio’s Rocinha to Oxford Street).
But an inability to empathise with the limited housing choices of the world’s worst off – and its utter dissimilarity with Sydney’s nightlife – notwithstanding, Mike’s point still stands that violence is down in the city down forty-something per cent, and sixty per cent in the Cross alone! You can’t argue with the stats, he asserts smugly, and these quoted numbers are reason enough to deny Sydneysiders and Sydneyvisitors the ability to “drink till dawn” or “impulse purchase a bottle of wine after 10pm.”
Except that the rate of violence has been in decline since 2008.
Except that you still can drink till dawn in Sydney’s casino-soon-to-be-casinos.
Mike hasn’t quite grasped the concept of Sydney’s violence problem being the manifestation of something far more sinister and ubiquitous: a product of a culture where violence and vanity amongst young men are admirable traits, in a city where tough guys are given the most sought-after rewards, in a country where the successful men have always settled disputes with a bit of rough and tumble. We admire the Australian man’s ability to punch his way to dispute resolution and then leave the argument there, with the spat blood and spilled teeth.
One could almost argue that a violent undercurrent is a natural response to and reaction against the oppression of a police state. One could argue that not addressing the root problem of violence and merely hiding it from public view means that it’s manifested instead in the home, where some 50 women will die this year at the hands of their partners.
Now’s where I give examples of the places I’ve been and lived overseas where the liquor laws are lax and violence virtually non-existent. They also happen to be the places where one can cycle without a helmet if they so wish. Pretty much all of them.
But look, I’m going over well-worn territory here and I really wanted to write about why the lockout laws are a good thing – and that’s mostly because they killed Kings Cross.
Let’s not beat around the bush, the Cross has always been shithouse. Long the haunt of sleaze, drugs and thugs, the Cross was where my dad was first punched in the head and where I experienced my debut bad-drug meltdown. Never have I felt so threatened as I have in the Cross, nor have I had as much NSFW totally regrettable good times as I have in the Cross.
The lockout laws went for the Cross’ drug-stained jugular and succeeded in destroying this blight on Sydney’s puritanical facade. We’re a city of yachting and picnics and long walks along the beach, not vice and sleaze and wanton substance abuse. Good riddance, Kings Cross, you were always a little too risqué for me anyway.
In lieu of a central party scene, we find Sydneysiders celebrating where they belong, a Balkanisation of Sydney’s party scene, if you will. The people who belong in Double Bay go to Double Bay, the Westies stay out West; the Northern Beaches remains the Anglo enclave that it always has and should be, and whatever happens in the Southwest of Sydney is no business of anyone who doesn’t belong in the Southwest of Sydney.
Apart from some Newtownians having to deal with an influx of outsiders (how ironic that those most vociferous for open borders and increased migration are also the most protective of their barrio’s established vibe), Sydney’s residents no longer have to deal with each other. A city of villages where everyone knows their place and celebrates accordingly; a nocturnal reflection of the city’s real estate crisis. A city divided by wealth and class, where the private school wankers no longer have to rub shoulders with the wogs in the furtherance of a night out.
In Sydney the wowsers have finally ushered in a brave new world, making Sydney one of the most expensive, boring and divided cities in the world. Just like Jesus said through Tony Abbott that it’s not everyone’s place to come to Australia, surely He agrees that what will make Sydney great is if everyone stays where they belong, and do what’s expected of them, unless you want to play the pokies – then everyone’s welcome.
Cover by Matty Munson
Ex-editor of Australia’s Surfing Life, current producer and host of 50 Fiestas, Barcelona resident and drinker of all the wine, every last drop of it.