Like a lot of 21-year-olds, the Midnight Shift isn’t really as innocent as it makes out. With over two decades of clubbing experience, the Shift has seen more scenes of depravity and debauchery than most of us will ever see in a lifetime.

Also, like more than a few 21-year-olds, the Midnight Shift has lately been experiencing a few identity issues.

The launch of the Shift’s new upstairs club area earlier this year should have seen the club return to its disco heyday -“ but it didn’t happen immediately. Rather than the big bang return, the club had to start all over again and slowly build its reputation. Effectively, the club’s upstairs dancefloor was out of action for two or three years -“ long enough for an entire new generation of clubbers to come out.

The gay scene has no memory, it seems.

The promotions manager at the Shift, Daniel Floyd, says that the club had to work hard to attract new patrons when it re-opened because some of them had gained an impression of the venue only from the downstairs bar. The two areas in the club have always had a distinctly different ambience, and attracted different crowds, he says. Downstairs has a pub video-club atmosphere while the upstairs club caters more for lovers of disco-tits and full-on house music.

It was hard to win people back over [when we re-opened]. There’s a younger group who have come through and taken over, and we had to get through to that group, Floyd says. They hadn’t seen the upstairs in its heyday.

The sweaty excess of the Shift’s heyday is exactly what the club promises to serve up for its 21st birthday celebrations on 30 and 31 August, and 1 September. In addition to some thumping music on the Saturday night (courtesy of DJs Sean Manley, Greg Boladian and Luke Leal), there’s a prize draw and shows -“ including one that features six Sydney drag queens.

Celebrations will take place throughout the weekend, with an invite-only cocktail party on the Friday night and a special staff show downstairs in the video bar on the Sunday (complete with wacky 1981 theme).

Floyd says the Shift’s resident DJ line-up and entertainment roster stacks up well against other venues.

I feel that we’ve got the best name DJs in Sydney working with us -“ they’re names that people know and recognise, he says. Ronnie James, Brett Hannath and Sean Manley dish up fluffy handbag sounds on the Friday night, while a slightly more hard-edged sound is on offer on the Saturday nights, via the disco-wizardry of Alex Taylor (although it should be noted that he is currently in Ibiza), Neal Crawford, Greg Boladian and Luke Leal. The regular entertainment roster includes drag favourites Claire de Lune, Verushka Darling and Maxi Shield, while the, er, charms of the Shift’s male dancers are already well known to many readers.

Although the Shift has a solid line-up of entertainment at the moment, Floyd says more changes are coming up.

Downstairs is about to undergo a major renovation, he says. We’re taking over the shop next door and putting in a stage as well, and bringing a little bit more entertainment into Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

The changes are planned to take advantage of the influx of punters expected at the time of the Gay Games. Floyd reports that a number of teams will be using the Shift as a hub for pre- and post- competition meetings.

We’ll have lots of things happening then, he says. Believe it!

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