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People on the dancefloor in the Imperial Hotel basement
Photograph: Anna Kucera

The best dancefloors in Sydney

Get your groove on at one of Sydney's most poppin' bars, clubs and pubs

By Jordan Kretchmer and Alannah Maher
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Dancefloors come in all shapes and sizes in Sydney – sticky-floored pubs can double up as heaving rave caves, slick neon-lit DFs and small bars transform into late night party dens when local DJs hop behind the decks. 

It’s been a long time coming, but as of March 2021, the lockout laws first introduced in 2014 are officially no longer in effect anywhere in Sydney. Just a few weeks later, after a year of strict restrictions, dancing is allowed again without any caps on numbers. Banished be our reputation as the town in Footloose! Celebrate by cutting some wicked shapes on one of Sydney's best dancefloors.

1. 77

Clubs Darlinghurst

This subterranean William street club has a long legacy of day and night parties to rival any of its Continental counterparts. The Berlin-inspired den regularly host nights with Motorik and local selectors. Also the later you head here, the better. 

2. Hotel Harry

Bars Surry Hills

Harry’s snack game is strong – and what better way to work of fried chicken wings than with a post-dinner dance off. The lounge upstairs goes off with DJs from 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights.

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Dancefloor in the Imperial Hotel basement.
Photograph: Anna Kucera

3. The Imperial Hotel

Bars Erskineville

The basement at Erskineville's LGBTQIA+ haven has got enough sweat and grind about it to make it feel like it deserves to be underground. And the best part is the music. It’s loud, and proud and so early '00s awful that it’s intoxicating. The basement also hosts regular parties from some of Sydney’s best queer collectives: Honcho Disko, Heaps Gay and Girlthing.

A pianist playing to a dancing audience
Photograph: Daniel Boud

4. Oxford Art Factory

Bars Darlinghurst

Sydney’s much loved mid-sized live music venue doubles up as an awesome after-party when gigs conclude. The Gallery bar is usually free, while ticketed events go off in the main bar.

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Selfie of three people next to the palm tree mural at Palms on Oxford
Photograph: Ben James/Instagram

5. Palms on Oxford

Nightlife Darlinghurst

This no-frills dive bar is one of the most beloved clubs on the main gay drag of Oxford Street. People tend to head here for daggy, tipple-heavy nights that – more often than not – end up stretching into the wee hours.

Drag queen performers on stage surrounded by floating dollar bills
Photograph: Universal/Ann-Marie Calihanna

6. Universal

Gay and lesbian Darlinghurst

This hot spot on the 'Pink Mile' of Oxford Street promises pumping tunes and five nights of drag performances every week, with lines often sprawling down the street. Upstairs on Friday and Saturday nights in the former Midnight Shift club, dance parties Fame Fridays and Déjà Vu kick off after drag and dine experience Premiere packs up. 

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A shot of a crowded dancefloor at The Cliff Dive
Photograph: Rachel Murdolo

7. The Cliff Dive

Bars Darlinghurst

While Oxford Street has changed a lot in recent years, this subterranean tropical club’s sunken dancefloor still gets pumping. Keep any eye out for regular parties from Dibby Dibby Soundsystem and a 2000s-themed rager called the Naughty Noughties.

Generic clubbing
Photograph: Dima Bushkov

8. El Topo Basement

Music Bondi Junction

This Bondi club gets a solid dancefloor going on the weekend. Featuring a state of the art sound system and live music set up, this crew is still spicing things up in the retail-dominated Bondi Junction.

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People dancing
Photograph: Supplied/Solotel

9. Kings Cross Hotel

Bars Potts Point

This six-storey building in the heart of the Cross is home to two club floors, and Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays once again see DJs and dancefloors lighting up under the soft red glow of the famous Coke sign. 

People dancing
Photograph: Supplied/Solotel

10. Goros

Bars Surry Hills

Surry Hills' Japanese booze and snack palace can pack a mean d-floor (in addition to a mean karaoke booth). Get litty every Friday and Saturday night with DJs and dancing. 

 

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Home Nightclub
Photograph: Supplied

11. Home

Clubs Darling Harbour

Located in Cockle Bay, this large three-storey nightclub with Harbour views attracts locals and tourists alike for mainstream house music and occassional local live music. For the ultimate kick-on party, Morning Glory starts from 5am every Sunday. 

People gather in the outdoor seating area at the Oxford Hotel.
Photograph: Supplied/The Oxford Hotel

12. The Oxford Hotel

Bars Darlinghurst

Speaking of Sunday sessions, the dancefloor on Level One kicks off at the tail end of the week at this Taylor Square stalwart. In the basement of the popular gay bar you'll also find a boutique bar and club known as Undergound.

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Young women on the dance floor
Photograph: Supplied/Solotel

13. The Golden Sheaf

Bars Double Bay

At this hundred year old pub in Double Bay, the dancefloors get jumping every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night in the Beer Garden, Canopy Bar and Rooftop with a roster of local DJs getting your feet moving. 

People sitting inside venue having drinks at The Marlborough Hot
Photograph: Cassandra Hannagan

14. The Marlborough Hotel

Bars Newtown

They cut a mean dancefloor at the monster pub at the Newtown crossroads. Every Wednesday, the Marly's ground floor jumps with local DJs. Come Friday and Saturday nights, all three levels get their groove on: in the basement, Picnic touring presents an electric line up of DJs in rave cave Tokyo Sing Song, and upstairs at Cuckoo you can get weird with live music event YAH!

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Young women celebrating Christmas at a pub
Photograph: Supplied/Solotel

15. Albion Hotel

Bars Pubs Parramatta

Looking for a dancefloor out west? This Parramatta pub's nightclub space has you covered every weekend evening. Kicking off with RnB and hip hop for Albion Fridays, then, Vibe Saturdays packs DJs, percussion, big beats, and finally, get a taste of Latin/African-inspired music at Tropical Sundays with DJs and guests on rotation every week.

Dancefloor at Birdcage
Photograph: Supplied

16. The Bank Hotel

Bars Newtown

You gotta get up to get down at this huge King Street stalwart. Up on the first floor you’ll find a bar and music venue called Waywards. On Wednesdays, queer-femme night Birdcage has transplanted from the now-closed lesbian landmark Sly Fox and the entire main space becomes a dancefloor. Live music is back to full throttle with dancing at live shows in Waywards on Thursdays and Fridays, and Saturday nights bring dancing to the public bar on street level.

 

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Person pouring a gin cocktail
Photograph: Supplied

17. Clock Hotel

Bars Surry Hills

Boogie to your heart's content at this Surry Hills pub with Lust Song Dedications on the first Thursday of the month: DJ Levins will spin some of your favourite power ballads and tender crooners – you dedicate it, they play it. There's also DJs on the decks every Friday and Saturday night.

Let the queens (and kings) take the lead

Sarabi poses in costume at the Bearded Tit
Sarabi poses in costume at the Bearded Tit
Photograph: Anna Kucera | Sarabi

Ways to experience drag in Sydney

Things to do

There’s always a lot of makeup and a lot of fabulousness going on, but the art of drag takes on many forms and styles – and in Sydney, there are so many ways for you to experience it. This is our guide to getting down with drag in the Emerald City.

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