Sydney’s Oxford Street is home to a cluster of nightlife entertainment venues in the heart of the city. Since the 1980s, the Darlinghurst stretch has been the hub of the LGBTQI community as a safe, inclusive space for staff and patrons in the many restaurants, bars and clubs that light up the street. In 2020, the covid-19 pandemic brought with it restrictions that caused these venues to operate at significantly diminished capacity or to shut down completely. Without customers, bars and clubs became casualties to the cost of rent, leaving a minority community with even fewer opportunities for work and entertainment.
With the restrictions easing in March 2021, this Echo explores the energy along the strip as people return to the spaces that survived the pandemic, with first-hand accounts from those affected. Produced with recordings directly from the area and voiced by local members of the community, experience a night out by listening to the sounds of the city’s nightlife reinvigorated in the voices of the people, the celebratory music and the palpable excitement in the atmosphere. Although there is much to celebrate, it is impossible to ignore the hardship that has preceded this moment. Without enough support, jobs were lost and vacant signs still occupy many of the shop fronts.
I chose this location to capture a unique historical moment in time for the city of Sydney: the effects of the coronavirus pandemic were not only economically devastating but also culturally and for a community that relies on their social and creative exchange, the shut downs were particularly damaging. There is still a sense of unknown regarding the future and despite the relief of revellers returning to their favourite nightlife spots, there is an unmistakable feeling of mourning for the time that was lost.
Voice Credits: Jake Cross, Sue She, Kate Bayley.
Begin your walk at the beginning of Oxford Street with a brief introduction.
Take a seat and have a drink with your new friends.
Acquaint yourself with the DIVA award winner herself.
You recognise her face, but you can't quite remember her name...
A conclusion, or a new beginning?
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