The Australian DJ vents about how much the nightlife landscape has changed for the worse since the introduction of Sydney's lockout laws.
Australian DJ Nina Elizabeth Agzarian, better known by her stage name Nina Las Vegas, is so frustrated with the repercussions of Sydney’s controversial lockout laws that she’s taking a break from her hometown. “I haven’t been in Sydney since September,” Agzarian revealed during an interview in Taipei, where she was judging The Red Bull Music 3Style World DJ Championships. “I was just over it. It’s getting—it was doing my head in. It was making me sad, so I’ve been nomadding it a bit.”
Agzarian is referring to the legislation known as the Sydney Lockout Laws. In February 2014 the Government of New South Wales, Australia introduced the law in an effort to curb alcohol-fueled violence after a teenager named Daniel Christie died after 11 days after he received a punch in Sydney’s Kings Cross from drunken reveler Shaun McNeil while celebrating New Year’s Eve. The law stopped clubgoers from entering a venue after 1:30am and introduced a 3am last call at clubs, bars, and pubs. A report in the Medical Journal of Australia stated that there have been 10 percent less visits for orbital fractures, which are commonly caused from punches thrown while intoxicated, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney since the lockout laws were first introduced. Although alcohol-related violence has declined, the laws have put a damper on the city’s nightlife scene—so much so that an inquest was launched to address the situation.
“There are a lot less places to play now,” said Agzarian. “It’s changed the mentality of the nightlife economy. It’s been four years now, so there are new kids who have turned 18 since who don’t go out now. They find their own places. They go to raves they put on indepently, or they party at home. They’re not going to a club weekly to see a DJ.” While there has been an increase in independent parties, said the DJ, the Sydney police also tend to shut them down quickly.
The NLV Records founder and producer behind tracks like “Ezy” and “Freeze” also blamed social media and the internet for the decline in Sydney nightlife. “It’s conservative right now, and we’re also online all the time now, so everything comes to us,” she said. “The thought of going out—you have Tinder, you have Uber, you don’t actually need to meet people out anymore. It’s just changed, but it will overcome that, because I think that even with those changes, people are turning off from that stuff. There’s a decline of people signing up to Facebook, there’s a decline of people signing up to Instagram, so you just have to trust that we’ll need the real life experiences again.”
DJs visiting Sydney should also be aware of the legislation’s impact on the city’s nightlife economy. “Don’t charge a small venue a ridiculous fee…let it build, take the ego away, survive, because all these clubs and promoters are trying to survive themselves, so if you help work with them, they’ll keep working with you,” advised Agzarian.
Although Agzarian gave up her Australian home, she has plans to return to Sydney this spring, and is doing her part to keep Sydney nightlife going. “I put on parties with my label, I make them cheap, I make sure they’re earlier,” she said. “We do day parties and summer vibes, so they go well, and festivals are having a moment. People are tickets to go out because they’re saving up and doing one thing every four or five months.”
Unlike bigger cities like New York and London, where new nightlife venues tend to open after others shutter, that doesn’t happen in Sydney. “If it shuts down, it shuts down,” said Agzarian. “We just have less people, too, so you need more people to be active.”