d street rave
arielle richards for vice au – dstreet studio party at the sydney opera house.
Nightlife

From the Underground to the Opera House

Formed through a series of “pretty stupid house parties”, Sydney-based collective dstreet's first licensed venue party was held at the Opera House. So what goes into a good party?
Arielle Richards
Melbourne, AU

Lockout laws, lockdowns, and the increasing residentialisation of Australia’s biggest city: What didn’t manage to kill Sydney’s underground only made it stronger. 

The VICE Guide to the Best Clubs in Sydney

In the midst of it all, dstreet was born. Named for Douglas Street, the location of a big, silly sharehouse, the party collective was formed through a series of “pretty stupid house parties”. What followed out of lockdown were a slew of inner west location TBAs, outdoor parties and bush raves. Their “first licensed venue party” was held at the Sydney Opera House, as a part of Vivid Live’s studio party series. 

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VICE Australia met with two members of the collective, Talia and Tom, to find out how it’s done.

WHO IS D.STREET?

Talia: “dstreet formed because we were all living together. So it was during lockdown, we started doing streams in bits and pieces like that.”

Tom: “It actually started from some pretty stupid house parties before that.”

Talia: “It eventually evolved, as we got older and stopped throwing 300 person house parties, into proper curated parties in venues that are not necessarily illegal… I think we fumbled around a lot at the beginning. But now we know how to throw a party we want to be at.”

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCES WITH SYDNEY’S UNDERGROUND.

Talia: “The memory that will be in my head forever and ever, it was Mardi Gras many years ago, and it was a DUNJ rave. And it was something that I didn't even know about, I got the call when I was at another party. My friends were like ‘no, leave you have to’. That was my first renegade party that I ever attended. And I think that really opened my eyes to the underground scene in Sydney and what that community looked like, out of licensed venues. That party will always live in my head. It was very much a down the rabbit hole kind of moment.”

Tom: “It would probably just be parties at unnamed venues in Marrickville. That would have been back when the police were really cracking down on those things. And I still remember the night that the cops raided three warehouses at once.”

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1. SOUND

A big one, the crew spent the better part of lockdown building their own sound system, a venture Tom estimates cost around $100,000. They’ve made their money back by loaning it out.

Tom: “Good sound for me, that's the biggest one, because it can change anything. It can transform how people interact, just the entire vibe. It can change a fairly lively dance floor into something that’s fully expressive, and it just makes all the difference.”

2. COMMUNITY

One could consider the organisers of Sydney’s underground the gatekeepers of the scene. But in a climate where parties operate in legal “grey areas” the cultivation of a connected, respectful community is as important for keeping the parties on the DL as it is for patron safety.

Thalia: “You can't fully control it. And you shouldn't necessarily fully control it. But it's having a space that is safe and expressive, and brings the right sort of people, and then those sorts of people are able to bring other like minded people. Or, if someone doesn't know how to party in that way, they’re able to kind of learn the dos and don'ts of how to interact with people in a really safe space. So, community is everything

Tom: “Parties essentially take place in empty boxes, it's just an empty space. But it's just a box. So the space is actually this liminal space of people. Good people make a good party.”

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3. MUSIC

Talia and Tom concede this one is a little obvious. But… good music is crucial for a good party. And it’s not so simple as booking the hot DJs.

Talia: “It's not just about booking good DJs, it's about bringing people in that maybe your audience hasn't heard before and being surprising, or booking a lineup so it has a nice story arc throughout. People are not being slammed with the hectic stuff at the beginning, they can ease into it. And it's that journey. It's not just about booking the hot DJs.”

Arielle Richards is the multimedia reporter at VICE Australia, follow her on Instagram and TikTok.