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FOOD & DRINK

The Best Sydney Bars for Dancing

Celebrate the return of Sydney's dance floors at these must-visit spots.
By Tamar Cranswick and Ben Hansen
March 31, 2021
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By Tamar Cranswick and Ben Hansen
March 31, 2021
  shares

THE BEST SYDNEY BARS FOR DANCING

Celebrate the return of Sydney's dance floors at these must-visit spots.

The old nine-to-five routine can be a bit of a grind — between work, study and trying to stay on top of all the shows on Netflix, it certainly takes a toll. That's why, when the weekend comes around, sometimes the only solution is to shake it off a la Swifty and leave your troubles behind while you dominate the dance floor.

Luckily for us, this is finally an option once again. After a year of deserted dance floors and seated celebrations, the New South Wales Government has finally rolled back restrictions and is allowing us all to dance the night away as we've been yearning..

To celebrate, we've put together a list of some top pubs, bars and nightclubs in Sydney to head to for a boogie when the weekend hits. So limber up, people — it's time to boogie.

  • 10

    Located inside a historic 1878 cash reserve, Prince of York is split into three distinct areas: the ground floor and mezzanine area, the downstairs cellar and Pamela’s, a nightclub in the basement. So, once you’ve had dinner upstairs, head on down to the latter for a boogie. At Pamela’s, you’ll find pink velvet couches, neon lighting and a huge disco ball suspended above the crowd. Each Friday and Saturday DJs kick off at around 8pm and keep spinning tunes until 2am. Dancing on tables is encouraged here — as is sipping top-shelf tequilas, margaritas on tap or a selection from the cocktail menu.

    Photo: Mitchell Ferris

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  • 9

    An inclusive, LGBTQI+ space with three layers of flamboyant fun, the Imperial Hotel is a treat in multiple ways. Here, you’ll find drag shows, a veggie-focused menu, signature cocktails named in honour of iconic queens and chances to sashay the night away. Head up to the rooftop bar for dinner and drinks, or if you’re looking for more of the club vibe, the bottom floor of The Imperial is a space of creativity and acceptance. With DJ sets on the weekend and a bevy of colourful performances, there’s never a dull moment down in the Basement.

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  • 8

    Bring in the weekend the right way by claiming a spot at the Beachy for a few beers with the bronzed and the thonged. Once the sun has set, swap your flip-flops for something more sturdy, then head to one of Beach Road’s dance floors where the party goes long into the night with live music and DJ sets. On Wednesdays, you can catch sets from some of the country’s best musicians take to the stage for the midweek party Sosueme — or you and your crew can dance across the whole weekend, including regular Sunday sessions, too. Best of all, entry is free. So, if you’ve spent most of your money by the time Friday night rolls around, don’t worry about dollars — just focus on your moves.

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  • 7

    Stonewall is a place where time ceases to exist. As soon as you step off Oxford Street and into its arms, you’re in another dimension. Stonewall kept the party going during the pandemic with sit-down events, drag performances and trivia, but you better believe that it’s kicking back into full party mode across all three levels now dancing is allowed again. There’s no better place to head for a night of entertainment and dancing with events popping up throughout the week, and drag performers and DJs on hand all weekend until late.

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  • 6
    Universal Sydney

    Filling the hole left in Oxford Street’s late night dancing scene by the closing of the Midnight Shift, Universal has been throwing LGBTQIA+ parties that rage on through the night since 2017. Running till as late as 5am, the parties change weekly, but the city’s finest DJs are always on hand spinning just the right party starters to keep you on the dance floor. During the week you can catch killer drag performances or Ru Paul’s Drag Race viewing parties — and an array of colourful cocktails are always on hand.

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  • 5

    In 2017, The Lansdowne was resurrected. The grungy feel of the space was kept intact, with the old concrete floors and paint-peeling walls still peeping through. While the pokies have been swapped for rock ‘n’ roll pinball machines and the sticky green lounges have been replaced by high and low tables, The Lansdowne’s love for music has stayed strong. You’ll find live music upstairs most nights, including at the Graveyard Shift, a showcase of local bands — and via DJs supplying indie rock hits.

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  • 4

    Life’s a beach at the imaginative Coogee Pavilion Rooftop. Wander in from the surf to find world-class DJs performing seaside. It’s hard to beat a boogie accompanied by the sound of crashing waves and a Mediterranean menu — which will provide you with tasty treats to fuel you through your dance sessions. And, to kick off the return of Sydney’s dance floors, the rooftop bar is throwing a tropical long weekend party with a bunch of local favourites.

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  • 3

    It would be remiss to talk about live music and dancing without mentioning the Oxford Art Factory. This long-standing Darlinghurst go-to is a hotspot for all the best Australian musicians, from the singer-songwriters cutting their teeth to national favourites — and even international heavy hitters when overseas travel is permitted. The sprawling dance floor is filled most night of the week with music lovers watching one of the many gigs or coming specifically for a boogie on one of the venue’s throwback or indie music dance parties. Next door to the main room, you’ll find The Gallery Bar, where dancing is equally encouraged. Here, you’ll also find free gigs, DJ sets and even art exhibitions.

    Image: Destination NSW

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  • 2

    The Vic on the Park is a Marrickville gem. Across the weekend, you can find live bands and DJs providing the tunes in the front room until 3am. Entry is usually free, but arriving get early is recommended as The Vic is known to fill up. Outside, you’ll find an expansive courtyard streaming the music from inside where an impromptu dance floor is known to pop up, and if you’re not exhausted from all this dancing, you can also shoot hoops at courtyard’s basketball court.

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  • 1

    Redfern’s The Bearded Tit is a place where colourful characters flock. Inside, you’ll find a museum of oddities gracing the walls and a selection of classic cocktails. Throughout the week, vibrant performances and art exhibitions are on the lineup — and, on Wednesdays, mainstays of the LGBTQIA+ music scene take over the venue for Queerbourhood. On Thursdays, The Bearded Tit throws its Leek Your Own Nudes event, a queer underwear dance party celebrating body positivity.

    Image: Katje Ford

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Top image: Beach Road Hotel

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