PHOTOS: Keep Sydney Open Rally, 21 February 2016

Sydney banded together yesterday to show solidarity and support of the Keep Sydney Open movement, rallying against the NSW government’s archaic, destructive lockout laws. With a stranglehold on our once-vibrant nightlife, the lockout laws have so clearly affected our city in so many ways beyond restricting the time that bars and clubs are allowed to stay open and serve alcohol. Every facet of the music and nightlife industries have taken a blow, from the limited venues available to upcoming DJs and bands, to the increased inability to tour mid-level artists who can’t sell out bigger venues, to the countless students who once relied on late night bar shifts to earn money while studying, after hours food vendors, and even public transport.

Up to 15,000 people marched from Belmore Park to Hyde Park yesterday afternoon, braving morning showers to cheer, chant and celebrate our city. It was a stunning, inspiring display of love and support for our city and its nightlife. It was incredible to see thousands of people of all ages and all walks of life to band together and take a stand against Mike Baird and his government (and of course Barry O’Farrell before that.)

The fact of the matter is that lockout laws do not exist to simply prevent late night violence, alcohol-fuelled or otherwise. While official reports deem to conclude that violence has reduced since the laws were introduced two years ago, this only rings true specifically in the lockout zone. It’s far from the case everywhere else, and in some areas – such as Newtown – late night violence has even increased. The lockout laws are a money-making scheme, simple as that – and it’s not exactly a hidden agenda.

While we’ve been aware of the lockout law’s problems ever since they came into effect, the knife was twisted even deeper when Premier Mike Baird posted a lengthy, ridiculously close-minded-to-the-point-of-offensive Facebook post defending his stance. This only served to rile us up even more, and the rally was announced shortly after.

Speakers at the rally included Nina Las Vegas, The Preatures’ Isabella Manfredi and Dave Faulkner of the Hoodoo Gurus, as well as rally organiser Tyson Koh. Musical guests included Art Vs Science and Royal Headache.

Now more than ever, it’s so important to do what we can to show those in power that change is needed. Particularly as Queensland have just announced their own lockouts, which are set to be even stricter than our own (read our twenty two cents on that right here,) it’s increasingly clear that something needs to be done. Sydney’s nightlife and culture is on its deathbed – and we really, really don’t want to pull the plug.

It was an incredible day – one which will hopefully help to make a real change for the future of our city.

All photos by Danielle Hansen