NOTE: This article was made possible by Travellers Autobarn, who gave me a campervan to drive around Australia and review things. If you're considering a drive to or from Sydney, go no further than Travellers Autobarn.
Sydney has two types of shit nightclub. First is the Super Mega Club in which everything is enormous and encrusted in glitter and cocaine mucus and all drinks cost $75. And then there’s the second type, which are basically weird little basements that look like they’re designed by gnomes and the air smells like Balinese air conditioning.
I know this because I have a thing for bad clubs. I love how fun and funny they are and how, if you spill a drink all over something sacred and electrical, it doesn’t matter. So I decided to spend a night visiting all of Sydney’s worst clubs, as voted by the anonymous and highly opinionated users of TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google Maps. And here are the four places that got the bottom reviews, in descending order of quality.
- World Bar
- Chinese Laundry
So, armed with my list, I set out to give them some love.
World Bar belongs to Sydney’s latter category of sticky-floored Jaegermeister dungeons. And even though it’s not actually a basement, it still has that classic basement vibe.
I think it’s something to do with the music. World Bar is a proud supporter of greasy-headed young men in bands. The kind of young men who idly draw record label logos on their arms while on the phone to mum.
I watched the young men’s friends standing around, nodding to the music. No one danced, but you could see they wished the very best for their friends.
All the parents were there too. Go to any amateur gig in the country and look around for the mums and dads. You’ll see them in the corners, proudly dancing along to music they don't love. Honestly, it's heartwarming.
On the bottom story I found a dancefloor where a DJ was playing "Hollaback Girl" and this guy was waving a teapot around, having a mad one. That’s the thing about World Bar—they sell drinks in teapots. So I bought a teapot.
And then I left, because it was 11PM and I had another three clubs to get through.
This place doesn’t need an introduction because it’s Ivy, and you’ll recognise this alleyway of bouncers and freezing door girls. They gave me a quick frisk, scanned my licence, charged me $25, and turned me inside.
Ivy is many things. Firstly, it’s a multistory carpark of drunk teens with a pool on the roof so League players have an excuse to de-shirt in the summertime. But it’s also a piece of placeholder real estate so owner Justin Hemmes can knock it all down and build a hotel and become 17 times richer than god. But finally, and most importantly, it’s a place with excellent bathrooms.
They're large and well lit, and perfect for cornering friends and explaining how they have amazing hair. “Honestly," you'll say to your bff who'll be bunched up in the corner, "It's just so lush and I've always admired your fade…" And then you'll realise your friend isn't listening. "Goddamnit," you'll say, "this is important!"
But your friend will be already pushing towards the door. "You know, we should go smoke!" they're saying, squeezing past. And for a moment you're bummed out, but then a moment after that you've forgotten what you were bummed about. And then a moment later you'll be in the smoker's area, about to launch into a speech about how your friend has amazing hair.
Another thing about Ivy: no one is accidentally sexy. Everyone’s look is a meticulous product of exercise, diet, and fashion, with nothing left to chance. And this ethos is on display everywhere, with swarms of legends taking selfie after selfie after selfie after selfie ∞ until they get one in which they all look sexy.
And everyone tries to bang each other. Of course, that’s not an Ivy thing thing, it’s a nightclub thing. But it’s everywhere at Ivy.
By this point I was feeling loose so I tried some dancing and the music was pretty good. Just some fun garden-variety EDM played in front of a huge LED panel of golden trinkets.
Then I checked out the party on the roof.
It wasn't really a party. Just some posh people chatting about paddle steamers or something… so I left.
And went to… Laundry! You know when I was talking about basements? Well, basically I was talking about Laundry.
Laundry is a very dark system of labyrinthine tunnels and torture chambers, where people express themselves via interpretive dance in the shadows. And it was all very dark and mysterious, until I barged in and started taking photos with the flash on. Sorry guys.
The interior decoration at Laundry is weird. Maybe even scary. For example, I found these guys in a blackened tunnel, and maybe they were art or maybe they were cursed antiques.
And then there was this laser cat thing. Again, the cat seemed like quite a negative character.
Eventually the tunnels spat me out onto a dancefloor, where a seemingly famous DJ was doing music. Everyone was making videos they’d never watch and calling out song requests the DJ would never hear.
Then, behind me, I felt someone tapping me on the shoulder. I turned around to find this woman giving me a cool sideways finger. I think it’s one of the best photos of the night. Thanks, you.
By this time it was midnight and I was worried about becoming a lockout victim, so I hurried to the worst nightclub in the entire city. But as I later learned I needn’t have worried, because luckily they’re open all night.
Welcome to the end of your night. The place where you lose a few pineapples on the Big Wheel and then take yourself upstairs to try your luck on the wheel of love.
But instead, you find this. A giant pit of steroid-powered dudes prowling around their bottle-serviced booths. Who are these people? And how much do they bench? Because I think it’d be a lot.
And in the centre of each booth, is this. It’s the apex of hierarchical signifiers. An ice-cold affirmation of cash and influence. Because to a certain demographic, nothing says success like a big bottle of Belvedere in a glass case. It’s the top of the pyramid. The sickest. Bro.
After staring at the booths for a while and thinking about how weird people are, I went and got dancing. The music was huge and basey, as produced by this guy. Also it’s worth noting that my photos of Marquee are rubbish because they confiscated my SLR. Still, I was surprised I managed to stuff it down my pants as long as I did.
Out on the dancefloor, people were happy and sweaty. Quite sweaty actually. But by this point I’d gone into the multi-schooner mystery zone and I didn’t care. It was nice to be out with drunk people at the peak of their lives. Trashing their bodies and bank accounts, but building nostalgia that’ll last forever.
And I think that’s the key to shit clubs. There’s nowhere else you can get such incredible kicks in public bathrooms, and go make out with strangers. Shit clubs are life with the volume turned up. Shit clubs are ridiculous and fun and funny, and I’d recommend just about all of them. Or at least, all the ones in Sydney.
This article was made possible by Travellers Autobarn. Want a campervan? These guys know what's up in campervans