Sydney club owner, booking agent and DJ Murat Kilic has used his keynote address at IMS Asia-Pacific in Singapore to highlight the cultural damage caused by the city's infamous 'lockout laws'.
During the rousing 15 minute speech, Kilic eulogised his home city as a once thriving cultural hub that had gradually become soulless since 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks were forced on bars and clubs within the 'CBD entertainment precinct' in an attempt to address street violence in 2012.
"Sydney had one of the most exuberant nightlife's in the world. It seethed with energy," Kilic told the audience. "The nighttime culture was effervescent, sun-infused and excitingly awake. It better mirrored our personality.
"Now I can only choose one venue to be in by 1.30 and that's where I have to stay. My freedom is compromised. After the laws were introduced I remember standing at 3am in my venue looking at the dance floor, which was once heaving, and I was literally broken hearted. I looked at my venue and it was over."
Kilic's The Spice Cellar, one of Sydney's best loved clubs, closed its doors earlier this year citing "extreme duress" caused by the laws after briefly relocating to the Imperial Hotel outside the lockout affected area.
"We also have cultural refugees," Kilic continued. "People who are talented who can't find work in Sydney anymore. They're moving elsewhere. The human cost was also huge. Another person who used to work for me I know had to be saved from throwing himself in front of a train in desperation. The suffering is real.
"Sydney's nightlife was forced to change by the government. It's in a state of flux right now. Our community, our identity, our livelihood is all threatened. We have to save Sydney's soul," he said.
To do this, Kilic said the dance music community needed to unite to change the industry's unfair public image that was influenced by the government and further affected by an unhelpful mainstream media.
"We have to speak the language of politics," Kilic said. "They don't know the difference between Dixon and Richie Hawtin or Panorama Bar and DC10. All they care about is how much it costs, how much money does it bring in, how many jobs it creates and, most importantly, how many votes they can get.
"We have to justify our worth ... it's not just our dollar value but it's also the qualitative stuff. It's the intangible magic that we can't count but that we all feel. That feeling of enlightenment, of freedom. That feeling when you hear a track on the dance floor and the feeling is so genuine and true you feel that everyone is connected. It's tribal, it's instinctual and it's what makes us human."
We hear that.
Check out Murat Kilic's 'Saving Sydney' keynote address at IMS Asia-Pacific Singapore 2015 below.
Scott Carbines is Mixmag's Australian Online News Editor, follow him on Twitter.
[Photo: David Ulrich]