By Madison Behringer.
SLYFOX nightclub has been a permanent fixture in Sydney’s late-night music and club scene for over 20 years, nestled on Enmore Road in Sydney’s Inner West. Since 1998, SLYFOX has been operating as a 24-hour venue, giving locals a spot to go once the pubs and other bars close. Since opening, SLYFOX has traded without any problems and has become a much-loved venue for locals and visitors to Enmore alike.
In 2016 when Sydney’s lock-out laws came into effect, Police advised that due to a stipulation in SLYFOX’s current DA, no amplified music was to be allowed after 3 am. As a result, the club introduced silent disco headphones to comply with these laws. Following this, SLYFOX spent the next three years and over $100,000 sound-proofing the venue with the aim to apply to Inner West City Council for the removal of the headphones. After countless meetings with Council DA planners, town planners, acoustic engineers, neighbours, lawyers, the Mayor of Inner West Darcy Byrne, the CEO of Inner West and others, SLYFOX submitted to council a DA to remove the headphones for good.
After much back and forth and Council requests for further changes and amendments to the venue and its DA application, Council contacted SLYFOX on November 12 stating that their recommendation to the Council’s planning panel would be a 12 am (midnight) license. Knowing this would cause the venue’s imminent closure, SLYFOX published a post on their Facebook page the following day.
‘From the owners of SLYFOX, the staff, the DJ’s, the promoters, the bands, the comedians, the improv actors, the chefs, we call on you all to SAVE THE SLYFOX. Massive thanks to the Mayor of the Inner West Council, Darcy Byrne for his unwavering and ongoing support from the start,’ the post read.
SLYFOX co-owner Kerry Wallace explained why a midnight license would be devastating for the club’s survival, saying, “SLYFOX is known as a late-night bar. So people are not in there at 5 pm having beers… so for us to survive and for the business to be viable it has to be a late-night bar.”
Kerry went on to say: “We’ve been losing money ever since those headphones came in. We have to get rid of the headphones.”
Kerry sees first-hand how important a light-night venue like SLYFOX is to a community like Enmore.
“People have lived in the local area for years. They frequent the SLYFOX after dinners or after going somewhere else. It’s an iconic piece of Enmore Road. It’s one of the only late-night venues we have left in the whole of Sydney.”
Brett Straus is also a co-owner of the venue and has been the Council’s main point of contact throughout the ongoing battle for SLYFOX’s future.
“The Mayor called a round-table discussion for all stake-holders and they said to us ‘look, we understand there are some issues here, we’re going to do the right thing by you, if you can just withdraw the application and lodge a brand new one doing it this way, we will help push that through Council’. We were all shaking hands afterwards, everyone was bloody hunky-dory, getting on like a house on fire,” Brett said.
The process to keep SLYFOX open has been frustrating, time-consuming and expensive, and Brett has been at the forefront of the battle with Inner West Council.
“We did all the testing and everything they asked us, only for them to come back and change the goal-posts again, saying ‘we didn’t mention this particular thing before but it’s important that you do it now’. It’s almost like they’re trying to bleach us from every dollar so that we eventually just pull the application all together so they win.”
Despite the seemingly never-ending challenges with Council, SLYFOX is fighting to keep its doors open. A petition has been created titled SAVE THE SLYFOX, with almost 6000 signatures being added since it was created on November 13. SLYFOX are also asking locals to complete a Submission to Council Form, with over 1500 locals already doing so.
“The letter and submission to Council is what’s going to get waved in the court. So the submissions to the Council are the most important to fighting this,” said Brett.
“I’ve read why the local community wants us to stay open,” said Kerry. “We’ve now had 1810 direct submissions to Council now in favour of our DA. I’ve been reading them all, people are literally pouring their hearts out.”
Kerry finished by saying: “It’s funny – the Inner West Council just announced that they’re doing their own ‘Live Gig Guide’ every week for live music and then on the other side they’re trying to shut down a live-music venue.”
The Inner West Council’s recommendation to the planning panel will be announced in the next week, however, the SAVE THE SLYFOX petition and Submission to Council Forms are still being accepted. All lovers of the late-night venue are being encouraged to submit a Council Form and SLYFOX are committed to keeping their doors open late into the night for many years to come.
City Hub attempted to contact Inner West Council for comment with no response.
Link to SAVE THE SLYFOX petition:www.change.org
Link to Submission to Council Forms: www.tinyurl.com/CityHubSlyFox