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  The Third Degree

Club 77

The Club Aesthetic - Down And Dirty Does It Good!

There wouldn't be many clubbers in Sydney who haven't ventured into the deep dark recesses of Club 77, at one time or another. A long time staple of the Sydney club scene, the William Street venue seems to be the sort of place that incites passion in people, you either love it or loathe it.

Club 77 has played host to one off parties and regular nights covering a multitude of musical styles, from House to Rave to Retro and countless other sub-genres in between. For years the venue has had an all night license, but this year licensing requirements has brought their closing time forward to 3am. This is an unfortunate turn of events. The new regulations mean that it's impossible to hold a party at the club, in the conventional format at least, and Sydney is one city that can perhaps least afford to lose a venue.

Some people really detest Club 77. I can understand this position, however, the reasons why some hate the place are the very reasons why so many of us love it.

I think the most overwhelming aspect of Club 77 is that it is small and dark. You enter off William Street, directly along the strip where the prostitutes at the lower end of the market hang out. Depending on the night, you may have to wait in a queue outside and endure the shouts of "how much, baby?" from the cars full of pissed blokes, cruising around the city on a Saturday night. The queues aren't really used as a means of weeding out the good from the bad and the ugly, more as a crowd control measure, because the club is so small that there is always the danger of suffocation if too many people are let in at once.

Upon admission, you descend a stair case painted in a lurid devil red, and pay the almost always reasonable door charge, usually somewhere between $7 and $20. Inside, everything is painted black and if it's busy, Club 77 is hot and smoky. It's a small space with a long bar to your left, the toilets to your right and the small lino dance floor is up the front. The Dj booth takes pride of place in front of the dance floor, and there are seating areas either side of the booth as well as by the bar and up the back near the entrance. The paint work is chipped, it smells like smoke, beer and dry ice, really it's pretty dingy.

The toilets at Club 77 really are an entity unto themselves. The door to the ladies is in quite an awkward position. It opens into the crowd, uncomfortably close to the dance floor, and punters risk injury by walking past it on their way to the sofas in the corner. Inside, there are two very old toilets crammed into a space no bigger than your average terrace house bathroom. The toilet to person ratio is such that there are frequent long queue's to use the facilities, but no where to stand whilst waiting without being squashed between a wall and a door. I cannot report with any authority on the men's toilets, because I've never been in there, but those who have tell me it's a similar story.

Club 77 feels somewhat like an underground dungeon, with it's low ceilings, black walls and with what light there is seemly always blue or red. When it's rammed it so hot that your eyes sting and you have to go outside for a breath of fresh air. You have to wait forever to use the toilets, it's small, it's tatty, it's old and it has that distinctive club smell. But despite all of that, the club still manages to feels like a second home.

This description of the club probably makes it sound like a bit of a dive, and to be honest, I'm not exaggerating. But there is a greater sub text to all of this. It might be down and dirty, but that's how I like it, just like my music.

The décor hasn't been re-done for a while and Club 77 can get a bit packed, but it's a good place. We all know of those hideous venues that make you want to scrub down with disinfectant when you get home. But despite many trappings that could have put Club 77 into this category, somehow it manages to avoid that fate, and I would like to point out categorically, that this is not one of those places.

The venue is intimate, with lots of comfy, dark places to sit, and you can always find your friends. It may be a bit shabby, but it's clean and friendly, I've never found the bar staff to be obnoxious. It's the sort of place you can go to, and always feel comfortable and familiar. The dance floor is small and everyone is in close proximity, but that makes it get sweaty and hot with the kind of heaving energy that makes you feel as though you are in on some sort of exclusive secret, or unspeakable collective experience. And you are close enough to the dj to make you feel like a participant in the musical experience, not merely an observer of a God in a black booth.

You know what I really think makes Club 77 great? It's what I always imagined clubs would be like before I was old enough to even sneak into one. My mother would be horrified if she saw the club, it's possessed with a sense of wickedness that makes it exciting. It's the sort of club that has grown adults feeling like they are doing something bad. At the end of the day, isn't that what clubbing is all about? Isn't it about doing something that you could never do when you were a kid? Isn't it about being apart of an illicit underworld, where your activities cut a fine line between the legitimate and the not so? Is it not about feeling as though you are apart of something underground, secret and a little dubious? For me, at least in some way, it's about all of these things, and Club 77 provides these elements in a way that no pristine, interior designed, history-free club ever can.

I don't want to go to a club where there is no sense of what has been before, where nothing is familiar and everything is sparkly and shiny, but where the designers couldn't fit in any atmosphere along with the spiffy new fittings. Certainly these kinds of venues have both their attraction and their place, but I'm not convinced that they sit too well with ethos of the clubbing experience.

Of course there are those who will disagree, perhaps strongly, on my take on Club 77 and what constitutes the most desirable club aesthetic. But I'm sure that most people who go clubbing in Sydney would have had a good time at the venue, at least once. The club has been a good reliable staple that has done this City well, rather like an old friend, one who maybe doesn't dress so well anymore and maybe has her off day sometimes, but she's proud of what she is, and always makes you feel cosy and welcome. She's lots of fun.

Claire Robinson


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Got into a fight at this venue or maybe met your loved one here? Disagree with the author's view of the toilets or range of beverages? Let us know!

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