More than 15,000 people hit the streets of Sydney to protest the city's lockout laws at the weekend.
Chants and signs, including 'Cut shapes not culture', 'We hit the dancefloor not each other', 'Drop the Mike' and 'Party like it's 1699' were in full force at Sunday's Keep Sydney Open rally, which met at Belmore Park around midday. Protesters then marched to Hyde Park for speeches and live music performances, stopping along the way to pay respect to venues that had been forced to close their doors due to financial pressure since the laws were introduced two years ago.
Keep Sydney Open's Tyson Koh, Nina Las Vegas and The Preatures' Isabella Manfredi addressed the huge crowd at Hyde Park, while many other Sydney, Australian and international artists showed their support by marching or posting on social media. The massive turnout sent a strong message to NSW Premier Mike Baird that Sydney-siders will not stand by quietly and accept the demise of their city's culture and clubbing scene any longer.
Numerous prominent Sydney bars and clubs have shut down since the introduction of the laws, which prevent entry to venues in the 'CBD entertainment precinct' after 1.30am and force a 3am call for last drinks. Recent figures released by the Live Music Office show there has been a 40 per cent drop in revenue at live music venues since the laws were introduced, and a 19 per cent drop in attendances at nightclubs in the zone.
The lockout laws are currently under review and a report will be handed to the NSW government in August. However, Baird has said it "is going to take a lot" for him to change his mind on the laws, which are aimed at reducing "alcohol-fuelled violence" in the city. Advocates of a more intelligent approach point to other cities around the world that have been able to achieve both safe streets and a vibrant nightlife, and want Sydney to follow in their footsteps.
Scott Carbines is Mixmag's Australian Online News Editor, follow him on Twitter.