Sydney’s electronic music scene is no stranger to showing resilience in the face of adversity. Once considered one of Australia’s go-to destinations for nightlife, Sydney’s stringent lockout laws, enforced in 2012, left the small bar and club scene all but decimated. Refusing to let the party stop, the past few years have seen a renaissance in Sydney’s underground music scene. Be it smoky warehouse, sneaky street corner, the back of a park or under a bridge, Sydney-siders have proven they’re not afraid to venture out to party, no matter the consequences.
Then came 2020.
As with so many industries, COVID-19 has been yet another hurdle for Sydney’s dusk til dawn landscape. Realising that we’re still a way off getting our sweat on and dancing together at a party, Sydney-siders Douglas Street Collective have taken matters into their own hands.
Back in March, at the beginning of Sydney’s first week of lockdown, local music collective Douglas Street began streaming the best of Sydney’s underground electronic music scene from their living room in Sydney’s inner west. For 32 consecutive weeks, Douglas Street, via their COVID-friendly Douglas Street Streams initiative, have showcased the best local underground talent, right out of their Stanmore home. Having spent the last few years living and partying together, Douglas St residents Talia Jiménez (aka Tangela), Angelo Farina (Rubric), Tom Bottrill, Charlotte Reed (None Troubles), Sean Maroney (Teen Truckie) and Arthur Hayes are no strangers to Sydney’s underground music scene. Combining their talents, Douglas Street Streams have brought bop-worthy tunes to living rooms, kitchens, cars, and bedrooms around Sydney, keeping the spark alive. Each week the Douglas St crew invite a new, local talent to play a set in their living room. Recent highlights have included Merph (Nectar), Bortzo (B A G), Morgan Huggins (Lovejoy) & Honey Point.
We spoke to Douglas St Resident Talia Jiménez, aka Tangela about her seven months (and counting) of Douglas Street Streams, the future, and the evolution of Sydney’s underground music scene.
Talia, you were no stranger to Sydney’s music scene prior to lockdown. How has your experience of party culture changed after more than seven months hosting online parties from your living room? You must be exhausted!
Nothing will ever come close to sweaty bodies on a heaving dance floor. We’re doing our best in spite of the circumstances but you can’t replace a good old-fashioned party with a livestream. The party culture we all know and love is still there, bubbling under the surface as we bide our time, waiting until we can all safely and responsibly party together again. Until then, this is the next best thing. It is exhausting putting on events from our living room week after week but at the same time it’s also really fulfilling showcasing so many incredible local artists. It’s become the energy and inspiration we’ve all needed the past few months and something consistent to look forward to each week as everything else around us feels like a timeless blur. One thing that has been a massive positive out of this experience is re-discovering the strength of our local scene. Sydney is so lucky to be overflowing with incredible, diverse talent and people have really recognised this. That’s what keeps us going, the joy it brings being able to champion our friends and people we admire and continue cultivating a strong music community.
Like most of us, we’re sure that throwing live-streamed parties from your living room was maybe not how you imagined your 2020! Can you tell us a little bit of where you thought you be, and how COVID-19 led to Douglas Street Streams?
Like everyone else I had a very different idea of what I’d be doing this year. I kicked off the year as part of FBi’s Dance Class (a female DJ mentorship program) and was inspired to start putting on my own events when Covid hit. All that energy had to go somewhere and luckily we have the perfect space for hosting intimate music events so Douglas Street Streams was born! Covid was really the push we needed as a household to create our little collective and start curating events. We’ve been talking about running warehouse parties for years and this was the kick in the ass we needed to get started.
Though warehouse parties have long been a part of Sydney’s night life, the BYO party scene has certainly flourished in Sydney over the past five years. What do you think Sydney’s party scene might look like post COVID-19? Have people developed a taste for dancing in their living room?
I think people have developed a taste for dancing in their living room only out of necessity as it’s one of the last places you can still have a carefree wiggle. The second dance parties are legal again everyone is going to be jumping at the opportunity. Covid has put a lot of things in perspective and having a thriving underground scene is something we all took for granted. We’re a city that’s used to having to fight hard to hold onto our nightlife and I have faith that our scene is going to flourish post-Covid as we’ve all realised how much value music events bring to our lives. That and the reality that we aren’t going to see any international acts on our shores for a while means we’re going to see a real resurgence of our local scene.
Why do you think a melding of music, art, culture and virtual spaces has been so important for so many of us throughout this time?
We’re pack animals (most of us) and we find a sense of belonging within our communities. I’ve always found so much comfort in a dingy, inner west warehouse dance floor, knowing I’m surrounded by like-minded people. I’m most inspired by my friends and people around me doing amazing things in the arts, music and just being passionate about their projects. With lockdown we lost that immediate connection we had with our community and the most obvious thing to do was bring as much as we could to an online space. There’s still a big disconnect interacting on a virtual level but it’s what we’ve done to adapt and I think a lot of us would be feeling even more lost without it.
You’ve hosted DJ’s from all over Sydney the past few months. What have you learnt? Can you tell us the secret to hosting a great party?
The best parties are when the vibe is just right, everyone there is for a common purpose and ready to have a good time. A lot of this comes down to making sure everyone feels comfortable and safe. Your guests feel at home, the DJ has everything they need and feels welcomed and looked after. This is pretty easy in a living room environment but much harder when you’re trying to curate this vibe on a large scale but it’s what we all keep in mind when we’re hosting parties. Of course, a killer sound system and some good lights always helps.