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The lock-out and curfew laws have led to many changes in Sydney’s nightlife and clubbing scene since they were introduced about 18 months ago as a response to two very sad deaths, neither of which were connected in anyway to the after-midnight culture of the city, happening as they did between 9 and 10pm. Nightclubs in the city and especially Kings Cross have been closing their doors for good, and events that would normally have run till 5 or 6am have been finishing at 3 o’clock.

Yes, there has been a reduction in the incidence of violence and emergency treatments at the local hospital – but what gets less publicity is that this reduction is not as great as the reduction in the numbers of people out late enjoying themselves. Another consequence of the nanny state clampdown is that promoters have been forced to look outside the city for suitable venues to put on the kind of events that their customers want. This has led to rising complaints in Newtown, for example – not exactly an area noted for families and residents unfamiliar or uncomfortable with a lot of social activity on their doorsteps.

And so we find that the Digital Therapy team has been looking for a good venue to accommodate their successful nights of “house, progressive and trance”. And while it appeared that they had found a great location for their latest party, headlined by Signum, in fact there were one or two problems which showed exactly why the so-called CBD Entertainment Precinct is the right place for the city’s nightlife to take place and why shortsighted and killjoy knee-jerk reactions are the wrong approach to solving the issues they were supposed to address.

Rules designed by politicians and police, with no understanding whatsoever of the nightlife culture, do nothing to address the ingrained problems of the abuse of alcohol (particularly when combined with steroids) that are not restricted to the hours between 1.30 and 5am. They just result in the loss of vitality of the city’s nightlife and great events like this weekend’s Digital Therapy being cruelly shut down early, just as everyone present was having such a great time.

Yes, maybe the noise created was disturbing residents nearby (although there certainly aren’t any residential buildings on the street concerned), but if clubbers weren’t forced out of the centre of Sydney in the first place, no residents would have needed to be disturbed at all.

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So, having got that off my chest, let’s talk about the party! The venue is a photographic studio by day and effectively no more than a warehouse, on a street full of light industrial buildings. That gave the event a great underground vibe. However, it transpired that smoking had to be allowed inside (perhaps this was an indication that noise might in fact be an issue?), although the high vaulted ceilings meant that it never got too smokey. The sound quality was a bit patchy, but that’s par for the course in a warehouse and dancing closer to the speakers removed much of the muddiness apparent further back.

There was a real sense of fun and excitement across the venue, with exactly the kind of friendly crowd for which Digital Therapy has become known. We arrived shortly before Jezza started playing and quickly found a suitable place to leave our drinks – one positive of the warehouse venue was the lack of licence, so it was bring-your-own drinks. The venue was filling steadily and we were meeting various friends we hadn’t seen for seemingly ages.

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Next up was Big J, who played a set heavily influenced by the Coldharbour label sound. It was great to hear tracks like Markus Schulz – Without You Near, Sander van Doorn feat. Carole Lee – Love Is Darkness, Tiësto feat, Jes – Everything (Cosmic Gate Remix) and the tune that got the whole place buzzing, Armin van Buuren vs. Gabriel & Dresden – Zocalo. This set had a different feel from Big J’s normal style and, indeed, from a lot of what you hear these days. So it was really refreshing and just the right way to warm up for the night’s main act.

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As it happens, this was the third time in just over four months that we’d had the pleasure of dancing to a set by Signum. His set to close the classics stage at Luminosity Beach Festival at the end of June had been one of the highlights of the whole event and his hour at Wax Format in London in July had been the set of the night as far as I was concerned. No wonder I’d been really looking forward to hearing him work his magic over three hours in an underground setting like this.

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Sure enough, we were treated to some wonderful trance as he dropped classics like Basic Dawn – Pure Thrust (Nu NRG Remix), Push – The Legacy, Randy Katana – In Silence, Rank 1 – Awakening, Signum – What Ya Got For Me, Marco V – Godd, Tiësto – Flight 643, John O’Callaghan – Find Yourself and Matt Darey feat. Kate Louise Smith – See The Sun (Dan Stone Rework). This really was fantastic stuff and the place was really going off.

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But as I paid a visit to the gents, I became aware of the very bad news that the party had been issued with an official noise abatement notice by the police and had to close down. So when I got back to the dancefloor, there was only time for one more tune, Roger Shah & Signum – Healesville Sanctuary before everyone was kicked out onto the street in a daze and we found our way home, all too early, via Uber and the nightbus.

I think it’s fair to say that everyone present had a great time, but there’s no denying that having Signum’s set cut short by an hour and missing out on the closing act, Elucidus, altogether, was a massive downer, especially for what was a fairly expensive event, at $50. I’m not really blaming Digital Therapy as it wasn’t their fault – but I wonder if the venue hasn’t had similar problems before? Worst of all, it leaves me wondering whether there is any solution to the problems caused by the lockout/curfew law.

For all that, it was another great night until the early finish and we must hope that Digital Therapy manages to find another venue to bring us more great nights in 2016.

Thanks to Zed Hudz for the photos!

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