Debauched Darlinghurst Club 77 has had a makeover

Walking along 77 William Street in Darlinghurst early on a Sunday morning on a pre-lockout laws, you may have seen hazy gamblers stumbling into daylight from an unmarked door next to a supermarket. Chances are they partied all night at Club 77, a basement nightclub known (and loved) for its grime, lightning-fast rotation of top DJs and promoters, and lax approach to flushing toilets.

Sydney’s nightlife has had a rocky time ever since. But 77 have remained, switching as the time goes by – in 2016 it was revived by Jaime Wirth (who revived and subsequently sold pubs including The Oxford Tavern and The Norfolk, and was also a regular behind the turntables as part of Bang Gang DJs), and a year later started hosting parties that started at 5am and lasted until noon. Now it’s changing things again: it’s had a revamp, inspired by New York City’s dive bars.

“During Covid, we sat down and looked at our business model and found out that if we just continued to operate as a nightclub, we would always be the first to close and the last to open,” said Club 77’s director Dane Gorrel. pamphlet

The renewed Club 77 aims to attract a broad church of gamblers. From Monday to Friday it opens at 5pm and stays open until 4am – attracting office workers for an after work drink, then those looking to party. And while before you might queue for Red Bulls vodka and cheap wines — drinks that can be prepared quickly — now cater to Sydneysiders’ love of quality drink with a drinks list curated by Odd Culture’s drink manager Jordan Blackman. There’s a short and solid menu of natural wines, craft beers from Young Henrys and Grifter, and bottled cocktails from Big Mood. Do not drink? It caters to the non-alcoholic crowd with a range of options including Heaps Normal beer and Big Mood’s No-Groni.

“We went down [Big Mood] route because it’s pre-batched, pre-bottled, it’s all scientifically worked out and the consistency is there. But the speed on our part is there, so we can just pour the cocktail, shake it, garnish and that’s it,” says Gorrel.

Monday through Friday, it lures punters after work with a two-hour happy hour, 5-7pm, featuring $5 house beers, wine, spirits, and seltzers, and $10 cocktails. But it also holds a second happy hour from 2:30 am to 3:30 am, to give hospo workers and night owls the same deal as previous visitors.

“When they’re done working, they can come in and get a cheap drink and then something to eat, and then hang out in the venue until closing,” Gorrel says.

Eating in 77 in its humid heyday would have seemed folly. Now it’s a more compelling proposition — it enlisted Antoine Nebula of Suzie Q of Surry Hills to create one menu item: a hot dog (there’s a vegan version too).

Despite the vino and craft concoctions that come into contact with the skin, Club 77 remains determined to stick to its roots as a dance party. The program is packed with resident and guest DJs from Australia and abroad, including 77 staples such as House of Mince and Phil Smart, and newer promoters such as Tmrw Music, Undr Ctrl and Niche Productions. They play long sets, up to five hours. There are three new stages, a renewed DJ booth and an impressive sound system from Translate Sound – and to nip any noise nuisance in the bud, it has been made soundproof.

And while lockout laws and then lockdowns have slowed Sydney’s nightlife for the past eight years, Gorrel says now is a good time to rethink what we want Sydney’s cultural nightlife scene to look like.

“We’re definitely trying to build from scratch,” he says. “It comes down to … what kind of music is played at what time of night, the mood in the room, the production, everything. We want to provide a platform to teach people how to go out all night – you don’t have to waste your time, you can just come out and have fun and stay out all night. I think we are in a more fortunate position than anywhere else in Sydney – we have the chance to rebuild [nightlife] now. There is a lot of support for the rebuilding of this culture, especially the nighttime culture.”

Club 77
77 William Street, Darlinghurst

Hours:
Mon to Fri 17:00–04:00
Sat 21:00–04:00
Sun 22:00–04:00

club77.com.au
@club77sydney

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