Tired of the classic movie and dinner date night combo? Us too. That's why we're always on the hunt for new things to do, scouring the city for not-boring Sydney activities — ones that are guaranteed to take your next date way beyond done-before beers at the pub. Whether you're taking someone on a second date or doing your 100th with your significant other, we've got some killer (and, yes, cute) ideas for dates to go on this week, no matter how much money you've got to spend. Just think of us as your cultural wingman. You're welcome.
CHECK OUT A FASCINATING, MULTI-ARTIST EXHIBITION ON MIGRANT CULTURE
Gaffa Gallery is hosting Chindia,a group exhibition exploring the multiplicity of migrant identities in Australia. Showcasing six artists with Chinese and Indian heritage working across various disciplines, the show explores a complex array of themes including politics, displacement, performance, folklore, colonial legacy, violence, diaspora histories and issues of cultural and national identity.
Featuring work from Anindita Banerjee, Anurendra Jegadeva, Guo Jian, Lilian Lai, Lucy Wang and Texta Queen alongside short films, Chindia invites its audience to share in the inspirations, motivations and family stories of the artists and performers involved, whilst asking what the lessons learnt mean for the future.
Gallery manager and show curator Kimberley Peel explains the exhibition "aims to increase community engagement and participation to create an inclusive, culturally rich, diverse and vibrant society" by both increasing the visibility of migrant artist communities and providing a forum for them to engage with one another creatively.
After, head down to Klink for one of the CBD's best cups of coffee.
LOOK FOR PLANT BABIES IN A WAREHOUSE JUNGLE
If jungle vibes inside an inner-west warehouse sounds like your perfect outing, head along to the Jungle Collective's indoor plant sale on February 17 and 18. It's the latest greenery-filled market from The Jungle Collective, a Melbourne nursery that stocks all kinds of weird and wonderful species. After opening up their warehouse, which isn't usually open to the public, for a few markets on home turf, they're trucking their way up to Marrickville for a one-off Sydney venture.
Whether you're after a hanging pot plant, some palms for the garden or a giant Bird of Paradise, chances are you'll find it here. Have a reputation for killing your cacti? Overwatering your ferns? Don't worry — there'll be horticulturalists on site on the night to give you advice and chat through any questions you might have.
Here, you can be inspired by greenery aplenty, and learn to incorporate plants into your home and living spaces, while browsing, eating from The Garden Shed food truck and soaking up some tunes. Best get in quick though — their Melbourne markets are always popular, so we can only imagine that their first Sydney appearance will be as well. Due to expected demand, the sale will be held in four sessions on both days (8-10am, 10am-noon, 12-2pm and 2-4pm), and attendees will need to register for free tickets from noon on February 12.
Plus, if you wear a jungle-inspired print, you'll get $5 off your purchase.
PLUNGE INTO CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVITIES AT THE FISH MARKETS
Done up with red hanging lanterns, the boardwalk will become a bustling nighttime hub and traditional red envelopes and special fortune cookies will be passed around — the former of which are meant to bring happiness and prosperity, and latter of which will include "fishy puns" for the new year.
This will all go on from 4–10pm amidst the madness of the fish market, which will include red fish species that are seen as a sign of good luck and fortune. The licensed restaurants will also have the requisite yum cha and other traditional Chinese dishes to feast on. The market's expecting over 30,000 visitors throughout the day, so it's sure to be one helluva celebration of 2018.
SEE A THOUGHT-PROVOKING SHOW ABOUT CULTURAL IDENTITY
Nanette Orly curates Transcendence, a new show opening at Firstdraft this month. Drawing together work from Talia Smith, Get to Work, Roberta Rich, Nathan Beard and Dana Davenport, the exhibition explores the premise of blurred cultural identity, investigating "how artists of mixed backgrounds utilise their practices to negotiate and deconstruct their own identities," offering viewers insight into how one can solidify multiple cultural backgrounds to arrive at a place of personal harmony and emotional reconciliation, or "transcendence".
With several interdisciplinary artists featured, you can expect a multiplicity of mediums including video, sculpture and performance. Our pick for the highlight? The collective Get To Work (a trio of artists Georgia Taia, Paris Taia and Tracy Quan) who offer up a humorous, relatable and playful fusion of performance, dance, video, pop culture and Pacific Island traditions to examine social behaviour and identity – ridiculing the stereotyping they frequently experience as artists and culturally diverse women whilst aiming to relieve "the potential pressures, particularly in Australia, to be culturally categorised".
GET YOUR JAZZ GROOVE ON IN AN ECLETIC EASTERN SUBURBS PUB
Heading to the The East Sydney Hotel is like going on a day trip to the country. Not because of its distance from the CBD, but because of its self-proclaimed title as Sydney's 'last country pub'. The Woolloomooloo venue is filled with timeless memorabilia and mismatched timber furniture, and has a classic pub menu with some decent craft brews on-tap (along with all the classics). It's also the perfect atmosphere for the upcoming winter months, and for a spot of afternoon jazz.
Sundays bring live jazz and a great opportunity to chill out and get away from the chaos of inner city living. Cool cats Geoff Bull and his band The Finer Cuts (veterans of the Sydney jazz scene) play from 5pm until 8pm, creating a fluid set of smooth tunes and frenetic beats.
Entry is free but you'll probably want to sit back with a drink.
DANCE LIKE NOBODY'S WATCHING ON THIS SHAME-FREE DANCEFLOOR
This Valentine's Day, No Lights No Lycra invites you to ditch the rom-coms and lose yourself in a dance to all those better-off-alone tunes you've been waiting to queue on your playlist. The concept that was established in 2009 thrives off creating a judgmental-free environment for people to come together to experience freedom of self expression through dance.
Taking over the East Sydney Arts and Community Centre on the Wednesday, February 14, this year's NLNL is hosting two sessions: one at 7.30pm and the second at 8.45 pm. It's a space for everyone to come together and show their love — for someone else, themselves or life in general — through movement.
No lights means no judgement, so you can dance away the hype of V-Day, either solo or with a group. If you've got a partner in-tow, this could be a good way to avoid any cliche events. Otherwise, be sure to check out these other date ideas under $50.
HAVE A SUPER CUTE PICNIC AT GORDONS BAY
Picnics are a date classic for very good reason. After all, what's not to love about a little al fresco dining where you can whisper sweet nothings into your lover's ear away from the pressing crowds? Of all the excellent picnic spots in our fair city, one of our absolute favourites is the post stamp–sized Gordons Bay with its racks of ramshackle boats and sweeping ocean views. To make your picnic the envy of your fellow beach hangers, check out our roundup of the best supplies for a perfect picnic — including bagels, cured meats, cheese and growlers of natural wine — and where to buy them.
Rare Champagnes, a cocktail featuring absinthe jelly and lobster rolls are all on the menu at Solera, a luxe new small bar that's just opened in Barangaroo.
Working on the rather exotic drinks list is international hotshot Marian Beke, formerly of The Gibson, London. One example is the Apple of Louisiana, an original take on the Sazerac, with apple brandy, absinthe jelly and rock sugar.
Beke has also been busy sourcing Champagnes that you're unlikely to find anywhere else in Sydney. Look out for drops by Leclerc Briant, Jerome Dehours, Benoit Dehu and Ulysse Collin. Keeping them at the ideal temperature is the Kaelo, a high-tech cooling system that works at your table.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, chef Tony Gibson (Ruby and Rach, Astral) is whipping up lobster rolls — packed with half a lobster, citrus mayo, celery and chives — as well as Rueben sandwiches filled with Wagyu corned beef, swiss cheese, sauerkraut pickles and Russian dressing. For sharers, there's also a cheese and cold cut board.
To match the decadent menus, designers Steel and Stitch (Lobo Plantation, Chula) have dotted the 100-seater, heritage-listed space with green velvet couches and splashes of marble. If you're keen to catch some sun, grab a table on the outdoor terrace.
ENJOY CHEAP DRINKS AND SPANISH FOOD AT BONDI BEACH
Can Cava Pinxtos and Wine is giving Sydneysiders a reason to welcome the last licks of the weekend with Sunday Funday. The Bondi bar hosts a weekly party with live music, cheap-yet-fancy booze and Barcelona-style eats.
All-day drink specials include $10 cocktails off the seasonal menu — think passionfruit martinis, grapefruit margaritas and daiquiris for summer — and $20 jugs of red sangria. Plus, organic cava, house wine and Estrella beers will all be five bucks apiece.
Spanish sounds from flamenco guitarist David Holberton will accompany the drinks from 5–8pm. Of course, the kitchen will be slinging pinxtos throughout the day, including our personal favourites: the whipped goat cheese croquettes ($5 each) and the king prawns with wasabi and paprika ($7). The bar opens at 2pm and the breezy corner spot has plenty of outdoor seating too, making it the perfect spot to round out the weekend after a day at Bondi Beach.
ONE BIG BLOWOUT
SPEND THE NIGHT IN A SHIPPING CONTAINER (OR JUST DO DINNER)
Things are about to get a little livelier at Cockatoo Island, as the historic site prepares to play host to a multi-faceted shipping container summer pop-up. Contained will see the island temporarily score a bar, a restaurant and a hotel from February through to June.
The brainchild of Anatoly Mezhov and Irene Polo and originally erected in Perth, Contained features a whole swag of offerings to tempt Sydneysiders onto the island right through to June. Most excitingly, pop-up restaurant Don Tapa will be dishing up a creative mix of South American and indigenous Australian flavours, starring ingredients picked fresh from the on-site urban farm.
Head to the bar to enjoy even more local goodness. Urban Winery's Alex Retief has pulled together a wine selection celebrating some of NSW's most underrated regions, to sit alongside a Young Henrys beer rotation and a range of Archie Rose's artisan spirits.
A program of one-off Contained events will also be held over the coming months, including a six-course Valentine's Day degustation and a series of guest chef dinners. And the 21st Biennale of Sydney will run from March till June — which would be the prime time to check it out.