LO’99 reminisces on the raves that defined Sydney’s dance music glory days
05.11.2020

LO’99 reminisces on the raves that defined Sydney’s dance music glory days

LO'99 at Chinese Laundry
Words by LO'99 & Will Brewster

Take a trek through the history of Sydney's dance scene.

It might seem like a lifetime ago, but once upon a time, Sydney was a thriving hotbed for Australia’s electronic music scene.

Prior to the crippling effects of the NSW lockout laws – and way before COVID-19 was on the scene – the city was considered a prime destination for all kinds of late night shenanigans, with any number of club nights providing punters with all the house, techno, hip-hop, bass and breaks they could ever ask for.

United by a common cause and fuelled by the furore of the dance floor, Sydney’s electronic scene had bloomed into something massive by the 2010s, providing a platform for now-seminal artists such as Flight Facilities, Van She and Flume to cut their teeth and refine their artistic identity.

However, there’s few performers who are quite as acquainted with Sydney’s dance glory days quite like LO’99, whose thumping tech-house sound is an undeniable byproduct of countless nights spent in the booth and sweating it out on the dance floor.

With the release of his latest belter ‘Acid Worldwide’ – a tune indebted to the golden era where the TB303 ruled supreme – we asked LO’99 to open up his vault of rave tales and revisit some of the biggest club nights, festivals and events that helped to define Sydney’s dance music scene.

Vision Valley

I’ll never forget this one. It was either my first or one of my first raves, and it was such a vibe!!! Please bear in mind I’m from Sydney – so I can’t comment on raves outside of Sydney that I didn’t go to or know about, but I’m sure there were plenty of vibes exactly like this popping around Australia at the same time.

This was of the time when you didn’t know where raves would be till the night of. In Sydney, we’d all meet at Town Hall steps and have to call a 0055 number from about 6pm to find out where the party was. Then we’d all travel out to the location by train together.

This one was at a family horse ranch about an hour out of the city. There were many raves like this in Sydney at the time… Some of the ones I remember were Love Nation, Nightbreed, Scattered, Utopia (more on that later), and Lazerdome.

I’m not sure Vision Valley was a game changer for the scene necessarily, but it definitely was for me… such a dope night – the start of my rave adventures!!  

Daft Punk 2007

This one was massive for Sydney, and I’m pretty sure this tour was the same line up around Australia, give or take. l believe the show was presented by Micahel Coppel and Modular.

This one was a sold-out show at the Sydney Showgrounds in Homebush, and they had Muscles, Bang Gang, Cut Copy, Presets, Van She, SebastiAn, Kavinksky and, of course, Daft Punk.

Daft Punk had their full live show in action and when they dropped ‘One More Time’ it felt like NYE. Crazy!! Daft Punk were – and are still – one of the most influential electronic acts of our time, so having them here in Australia was a big deal at the time.

Utopia @ Wonderland

This was pretty crazy – a rave at the amusement park I used to go to every holiday as a kid! To be fair, I had been to a few Utopias, and I think they were usually at Homebush from memory, but I think they ended up moving from a mid-year party to NYE and at Australia’s Wonderland – huge!

To top things off, I remember being asked up on the decks to play a few records with one of the veteran DJs… and I dropped some tunes in front of the big pirate ship!!

This was definitely a first for me and maybe a first for Australia, having a full on rave in a theme park. Will never forget that. 

Stereosonic

Everyone in Australia – and a lot of people around the world – knows about Stereosonic. I was lucky enough to play the Sydney leg as local a few times, and I think at the last Stereosonic, Benson and I played back to back with his mum, dad and brother all there with us, ha!

The level of DJ and acts that Stereosonic brought in from overseas was crazy: all the big names across many genres of electronic music, and all the best local guys too. This was definitely one of the biggest moments in the year for dance music at the time.

Future Music Festival 

Much like Stereosonic, this was one of the big ones of the time that toured Australia and I was lucky enough to play as a local in Sydney a few times. I believe FMF was always at Randwick Racecourse and it was always a sick vibe.

The Starfuckers crew always had a Grave Rave which I played a few times (big up lads!!), and the last year of Future, I also played a set on another stage that I’ll never forget, as the sun was beating down proper hard on the decks. I legit could only spot touch the platter cause it was so hot.  

Parklife

This was another EPIC festival for Australia.

I think the difference between this festival, Stereosonic and Future was that Parklife did more live PAs and bands, as well as having a massive DJ line up. I’m not 100% sure how true that is but maybe in my mind I remember the lineups being not just dance music and DJs.

Watching Magnetic Man, Digitalism, Mstrkrft, Justice, Nero, Wiley and many others was a massive moment for me as well as many of my friends here in Sydney.

Those are only some names I remember off the top of my head, but I’m sure that around Australia the Parklife lineups would have been very special for many. 

Chinese Laundry 

Laundry is still pumping – not at the moment due to COVID obviously, but it’s still doing its thing proper and is just as special to Sydney as it always has been.

It’s one of my favourite places to play in the world and I’ve seen some AMAZING shows here. Located just under Slip Inn in Sydney, it’s a low ceiling, dark, sweaty, not over produced nightclub with solid as fuck sound.

Chinese Laundry has been in the top 100 venues in the world more times that I could count, and it’s definitely been the hometown show or residency for many, many DJs and producers who now tour the world. Big vibes!!

Revolver Upstairs (Melbourne)

Obviously, I’m from Sydney and grew up here, so most of this stuff is based on my experiences and the Sydney scene.

But Revolver is known the world over, and although being a little different, Revolver would always be mentioned alongside Sydney’s Chinese Laundry – “Have you played to Laundry, have you been to Revolver yet etc”, and I would always associate the two.

Revolver often seemed to be the Melbourne stop for many international DJs that came to Australia to play, and was also the Melbourne spot for a lot of the Sydney guys to play. I remember always having Revolver on my mind as a show I’d love to play.

I have it on good word (checked in with a Melbourne mate before I finished writing this sentence) that Revolver’s been instrumental in shaping the musical journey of Melbourne clubbers and DJs, and he also told me that apart from the airport, the taxi / Uber line at Revs is the busiest in Melbourne, haha!

Since first hearing about Revolver, I’ve been there many an early morning watching Boogs, Sunshine, Spacey Space, T-Rek and many of Melbourne’s DJ royalty over the years.

Splendour In The Grass

Splendour is an amazing experience, I’ve been twice now and been lucky enough to play too. Splendour 2018 was probably one of my favourite sets ever.I DJd for half, then played live for the first time ever with Doolie and Snob Scrilla on the mic with me.

The tent was jammed and there was so much energy in the room. I still get goosebumps watching back some of the videos. To be fair, I was also just amazed that my first ever live set went off without a hitch!!

Splendour itself is such a vibe: it’s run so well, with such much good music and equally good vibes about the place with everyone, whether it’s the staff, the acts, and of course, all the party people. 

MRR Super Social 

This was our first ever Medium Rare event and man, was it a success. It wasn’t a huge warehouse space, but we sold it out and it was a massive vibe!! A very hot vibe, mind you, being end of January in Sydney, but it was such a sick party.

We had a roaming ball pit on the dance floor, all of our friends playing and a bunch of good time ravers who were just super up for it. It was also the first time I got to play my Moby remix out, and I couldn’t think of a better place with a better crowd for it.

It was a very special moment for our label and we’ve done a few parties like this since, hopefully with many more to come. It’s always so dope to bring the family together to rave with all our friends!!

Kink @ Arthouse

In Sydney at the time, I don’t think anything came close to Kink. It was easily the coolest night, and always had the best music.

House and techno and then the beginning of electro house in the main room, with breaks in the side room – which is where you would have seen me play as I was cutting my teeth as a 20 something year old.

This was probably one of the first proper sick shows I got to play on the semi reg. Some of the big names I remember playing at Kink were Boyz Noise, Deadmau5, David Guetta and Joachim Garraud. 

Sublime @ Home

This was many many Sydney’s peoples first experience going to a club, including myself.

Hard dance ruled club land at the time, so in the main room you’d see Nik Fish, Peewee Ferris, Jumping Jack, Ambar Savage, Bexta… A lot of the big DJs you’d also see at raves.

As you’d go up in the club, you could find BeatFIx, which was a weekly home for breakbeat; The Silver Room for all things hip-hop and drum ‘n bass, and at the very top, Cargo (not to be confused with Cargo Bar) for all things house. Every Friday night in Sydney – what a time! 

One Love @ Tank 

This was another real dope party in Sydney that was also in Melbourne too – at The Prince I believe?

I’d often be at Sublime or Chinese Laundry and come up here after. Tank was an amazing venue and the music here was cutting edge: lots of house and electro house sounds, disco and some other stuff in the back room.

The club is gone now, and it’s actually a pretty decent Chinese restaurant. Sometimes, when I’m downstairs eating dinner, I look over to a corner of the room and think back ten years or so ago and can picture myself at 3am, cutting shapes with the fam!

The Kings Cross Trio: Moulin Rouge, Soho and World Bar

I’m running out of space to write, so I’m going to combine these three parties into one. To be fair, I would usually travel to all three of these in the same night, and often play at one or two of them each weekend when Sydney was in full flight.

Moulin Rouge, SOHO (fka YU) + Cakes, The Wall and WHAM @ World Bar were all really really important for the Sydney scene, and a lot of DJs from Sydney that are doing the thing around Australia or on the world stage started at these.

Unfortunately, these guys aren’t around anymore, but they were definitely influential for anyone from Sydney that played house music at the time.

LO’99’s new single ‘Acid Worldwide’ is out now on Medium Rare Recordings.