When I moved back to Sydney from Melbourne in March, I knew a few things were going to be a bit different from the Sydney I remembered living in from 1993 to 2001.
I knew the Albury was gone, for instance, and that Home nightclub was no longer considered the peak of international clubbing. But I was a bit surprised to see that Fish Records on Oxford St had turned into a $2 shop, and was dumbfounded as to why the palm trees had been ripped out of Taylor Square for no apparent reason.
I was crushed to see that that the Californian Cafe had made way for Stonewall’s new gaming lounge and devastated that the Pop Shop was gone. If the Pop Shop was gone, I told myself, then it really wasn’t Oxford Street any more.
But it was too late, the Pop Shop was gone with another trashy store in its place and so next I told myself, if Aristotle’s Coffee Lounge is there, then it kinda STILL is the old Oxford St. And whaddaya know?
Some things I also miss about the strip in the ’90s are the Green Park Diner, where the nachos where superb and the posters of Sleaze Balls and Mardi Gras gone by gave a timeline to our culture; the Californian Cafe before the renovations before it became a gaming lounge, the Roo Bar on Crown St, the hub of alternative cool, Reach’n Records, the meeting place for the city’s DJs, and that general feeling that Taylor Square was sort of the centre of the universe. I hadn’t been to London yet.
But everything is cyclical and I believe that Oxford St will rise again. And it’s looking that way, with plans for a boutique hotel at 110-122 Oxford St, a new food, services and lifestyle emporium between Riley and Crown, the regeneration of Foley St into a Melbourne-style retail lane, and the City of Sydney’s consignment of urban design firm Jahn Associates to find a way to bring the community back to Taylor Square.
This weekend’s disco pick is A Disco Stole My Baby on Saturday night at the Supper Club, upstairs in the Oxford Hotel, from 8pm til 3am. Entry is $10 after 10pm for a night of electro disco, Italo, balaeric and deep house from UK DJ Neil Terry and Chris Campbell.
I’m going to be squeezing my glutes and my PC muscles and saving my party self for Civil Disobedience -” The Dance Olympics next weekend at the Civic Underground. It promises to be an all night session of rhythmic gymnastics and synchronised sweating with DJs Stephen Allkins and Matt Vaughan rocking the dancefloor from 10pm till late. It’s Saturday 9 August and at $15 at the door it’s a lot cheaper than a trip to China, and you can get tanked without necessarily getting runover by one.
PS: If you’re a fan of old school Sydney, then get your hungry selves down to Dean’s Cafe in Kellett St, Kings Cross, ASAP. With the building it’s housed in and the one next door for sale, and its current advertising campaign in real estate pages suggesting a makeover, Dean’s is the latest Sydney classic icon at risk. Go there for the best nachos since the Green Park Diner served up its final plate.