Where is the scene? Where are the cultural movements? Surry Hills, what has happened to you? What was once a bustling art and music crowd, who previously competed to out-style, out-move and out-party each other on every level and in doing so developed an unpredictable and original movement for the fashion-istas to feed from, is now stagnant and unrecognizable.
A few years ago when I moved to the city from the south coast it seemed no matter what night of the week it was you could walk the streets of this cultural hub and stumble into a raging house party or free-boozing gallery opening and be inspired by the new and interesting people and their innovative ideas. Over the past year those quirky underground nights have slowly disappeared and with it the once artistically snowballing scene, has been replaced by business studying fashion followers. Have the pioneers of those days lost faith and gone underground when their unique niche got too crowded, or is their a deeper reason for this unfortunate change?
The main issue seems to be a distinct lack of pro-active thought. The kids of Surry Hills are an eclectic bunch to say the least and the answer to our problem is among them. The people who are going to reinvigorate the scene aren’t the designer label clad wankers in thousand dollar Incu jackets and thousand dollar hand made leather shoes, nor is it the upper class North Shore kids who dress down in Cream On Crown uniforms and samurai inspired hairstyles, it’s the quirky artists and eccentric muso’s avoiding the “in areas”. I’m not saying it’s limited to these categories of people at all, what I’m saying is bring on more of the weirdo’s and less predictability. Graffiti artists, fashion designers, graphic designers, dj’s, drugged out fashion models, junkies, hippies; these are the people that drove your hazy subculture coke and condoms fuelled nights at places like the old China Heights gallery, Health Club, Ox Arts, Hollywood, Thursday Nights Live at 77, and the Manner.
Everyone’s heard about recent changes to liquor licensing laws to promote small bars. Could the popping up of a few trendy bars have achieved the paradox of its goal by reducing our inner-city culture? I mean, by providing an area of attractive coolness have we really just provided an area for the ‘i-wanna-be-seen-looking-cool’ herd to culminate? I’m sick to death of Sydney’s shiny, plastic, recently refurbished bar scene. Leave the grunge. Leave the dank. That’s the character and atmosphere we’re all craving and having a place to hang out, shoot the breeze and enjoy reasonably priced drinks is a good place to breed active-thought.
Don’t slit your wrists just yet boys and girls, the well of opportunity is still half full. Put down the razor and pick up a guitar, a paintbrush, a spray can, or a hammer and go create something. Go destroy something. Get passionate about a community issue and do something about it! Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll will never die so keep your ear to the ground because there are still wild warehouse parties and late night beach parties, it’s just that the once notorious Surry Hills events have shifted more often toward newer low-key areas like Marrickville, St Peters and Redfern. Maybe I’m being over melodramatic and everything’s really OK and the scene is as strong as it has ever been and I, as an individual have just missed the eight ball so in conclusion I’ll finish by just saying the possibilities are endless, so get out there and start rattling cages, rocking boats and getting all anti-establishment n’ shit.