Popular Sydney “late-night watering-hole,” SLYFOX is facing closure following ongoing licensing issues.
The Enmore venue has been an established Inner West watering-hole for over 20 years and regularly boasts queer live comedy and music performances, as well as cult club nights such as the iconic ‘Birdcage’ party night every Wednesday.
However, despite the recent repeal of Sydney’s lockout laws, SLYFOX now looks set to be the next victim of issues in NSW between government bodies and nighttime venues.
In a statement made on the pub’s Facebook page, venue owners alleged that due to issues with the Inner West Council (IWC), the hotel would soon disappear.
“It is with heavy hearts we have to inform everyone that the SLYFOX will soon be forced to close its doors forever, due to the Inner West Council,” it reads.
“In 1998 the SLYFOX was granted a 24 hour license with a one year trial period. The owners at the time never re-applied for the license after the one year period.
“SLYFOX continued trading for 21 years following this, unbeknownst to council, the police or the current owners that the 24 hour licence had lapsed.
“In 2016, once the lockout laws were in [effect], it was picked up by police that the liquor license hadn’t been re-applied for. Following that COUNCIL THEMSELVES wrote a letter stating that due to the venue’s history (21 years of trading with no problems) that the 24 hour liquor license remained.
“In 2016 police also realised that in the current DA, there was a stipulation that noted there was to be no amplified music after 3 am, this was enforced and the silent disco headphones sadly entered the building.”
Formerly known as The Sly Fox Hotel, the venue rebranded -itself as SLYFOX in August 2015 and remained a haven for late-night shenanigans in inner city Sydney.
From 2016 to 2019, the owners of SLYFOX spent over $100,000 on entirely soundproofing the venue in the hopes of applying to the IWC to remove the headphones from the pub by amending the 3 am development application.
In 2019 after multiple meetings with council DA planners, town planners, acoustic engineers, neighbours, lawyers, the Mayor of Inner West Darcy Byrne, the CEO of Inner West Council and others, SLYFOX submitted to council a DA to remove the headphones permanently.
However, only months later the IWC notified SLYFOX that they were retracting their letter from 2016 stating that the venue had 24hr hour development consent.
“They went on to say they would HELP & SUPPORT US through the process & wanted us to re-apply for the 24 hour Development Consent.”
After filing for a new DA for 24 hour operation, SLYFOX received 12 objections to the new DA, some which have “since proved to be fraudulent with no one actually living at the address of the objector”.
“Council has now changed the goalposts on us at the VERY LAST SECOND,” the post continued.
“Yesterday, SLYFOX received a call from council stating they would be recommending a 12am to midnight license! Knowing very well that the outcome of this would be SLYFOX closing its doors forever … We are devastated.”
Co-Owner of SLYFOX, Kerry Wallace shared the grim reality of SLYFOX’s closure with Star Observer, admitting that three years of soundproofing and silent discos has delivered a heavy blow to money and morale.
“Well, the staff will lose their jobs, that’s first and foremost. Me and the owner’s life savings will be gone. It’ll be a big loss for the Inner West.
“We’ve invested a lot in it, and over the last year, it’s been losing little bits of money, that totals up pretty quickly – over a year period.
“It was so we could go back to being a late-night watering-hole, which it’s always been.”
Wallace also had words for the queer community at the loss of Birdcage, dubbed “Enmore’s Queerest Shin-Dig,” which runs every Wednesday night.
“Jacqui [Birdcage founder} will lose her venue where she’s done her parties for years and years – everyone stands to lose a fucking shit-ton.”
The founder and host of Birdcage’s monthly queer comedy night, Salem Shevvi said that losing SLYFOX not only means losing one of Sydney’s most famous queer art space, but also a beloved pub for all “Sapphic Sydneysiders”.
“I built a comedy night to platform marginalised artists, and in eight months we have showcased over 50 queer artists and been named one of the top 10 comedy rooms in Sydney. Now all that could mean nothing, because with a midnight licence SLYFOX will be shut and Birdcage Queer Comedy will have no home,” they told Star Observer.
“And Birdcage itself, I can’t even speak to how important this night has been to so many Sapphic Sydneysiders, I met my girlfriend there.
“Fuck the council, fuck the red tape, over it.”