Get more bang for your buck with cut-price drinks and no cover charges in clubs, bars and party basements that are putting the free in footloose and fancy free. So you don’t have to scour their event pages, we’ve found the best evenings to head to these eight party spots so you can get in without flashing any cash. Because in da clerb, we all fam.
If you still spent a fortune at the bar and the kebab shop, check out all the free things to do in Sydney on any given day, and make a pledge to only purchase fresh party outfits from Sydney’s best op shops.
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Free parties in Sydney
Best night to visit: Sunday.
The Inner West’s famous queer pub is an opulent party hive. Sashay away to ‘I Will Survive’ with drag queens in the front bar, get down to intoxicating ’00s tunes in the sweaty-but-sexy basment, or take that dancefloor grind buddy on an impromptu dinner date at Priscillas. Boogie in every cranny of the beloved venue for ‘Explore Yourself Sunday’, with free entry, DJs, drag performances, live shows and audience lip sync battles. You’ll also get into the underground Friday party for free most weeks, but we're always keen to stack up cash for their paid events, too.
Best night to visit: Wednesday, for the gleeful happy hour.
This small bar is living large from Wednesday to Sunday and rarely requests a cover charge cent. Their soirees populate the week with banging DJ sets and soul boogie dance vibes. Head out the back and chill on the deck or get your groove on inside with Sydney stars spinning vinyl. You’ll also get bang for your buck with their rotating specials – on hump day a fiver will get you a tinny, house wine or a gin and juice from 6-8pm – and they sometimes throw in free barbecue, too.
Best night to visit: Tuesday, for $1 hotdogs, duh.
They sure know how to fill a week here. There’s a colourful adventure from Monday-Saturday which you can normally join for free or $10 after 10pm ($15 if you arrive in your pumpkin coach after midnight). Over the weekend they bring in live musicians and DJs to get you grooving, it’s free entry all night with $5 burgers on Thursdays, and on Wednesday you’ll be scoffing $1 hot wings while you listen to smooth jazz and soul anthems. But there isn’t a sweeter deal than ‘Dollar Dog Tuesdays’. It comes with free entry and other wacky specials plus musical bingo.
Best night to visit: Thursday.
Things could get weird at this Chippendale party bar that doubles as a creative space. Your night might start with gentle disco and house grooving, but end with you witnessing a stage show where a man in a cow suit gets doused in yoghurt when his semi-nude captive escapes her chains (art). If you’re down, come most nights for free before 9pm or leave a tenner at the door. Thursdays appear to be consistently free, but Freda’s is a champion of the arts, so keep an eye out for a change-up in their local programming of musicians, DJs and performance artists.
Best night to visit: It’s a Friday vs Saturday tie.
This three-pronged Oxford Square staple – it's comprised of Kinselas Hotel, Middle Bar and Standard Bowl – complements your dancefloor antics with free bowling. If you don’t call shotgun quick enough for one of the four lanes, head upstairs to glowing arcade games in between bouts of cardio-heavy dancefloor action. Stop in for some cheap dumplings at Johnny Wongs and you’ve got eats, beats and activities for the night all sorted.
Best night to visit: Salsa Tuesday, of course.
We simply can’t ignore Tuesday night salsa at the Establishment. It’s an oldie but a goodie, with exuberant Latin beats and live percussion keeping hips rolling and feet moving. You’ll see obvious groups of experienced dancers, but all levels of movers and shakers are welcome, and there are even complimentary salsa lessons from 8pm. This is the kind of party where you feel comfortable taking the hand of a stranger in their sixties and going for a dancefloor twirl, as well as shaking yo’ thang in the reggaeton circle while you sip on spicy $12 Cuba Libres.
Best night to visit: Wednesday, for cheesy dance fuel.
While they might be serving authentic Mexican cuisine at the restaurant perched on top of this four-level venue, it’s all about pizza on Wednesday nights at El Topo Basement (which is found on the third floor, not the basement). Before 11pm, they’ll sling you a slice for $4 paired with a drink from the house shelf for the same price, while you put your hands in the air like you just don’t care about that flavour combo. There’s also a healthy roster of Sydney DJs making this free-entry party happen every week.
Best night to visit: Fridays are consistently funky.
The earlier you get to Cliff Dive, the more likely you will get free entry, as they usually charge a small cover after 10pm. And while it’s always awkward to be the first brave soul on the dancefloor in places that operate as a bar-nightclub, the vibe at this Darlinghurst joint will help you overcome the pre-party awkies. Plus, this tiki bar is always packed so you’ll have dance partners a’plenty. Order up a Monkey Head and some yakitori, then bust a move on the sunken, blue-lit DF to hip hop, R’n’B and pop.
Find more untz, untz, untz fun
Sydney loves to party, we'll party on the roof, in the basement, by the pool, even once every few months in a suburban bowling club. We've collected our city's best clubs and nightlife hotspots. Despite restrictions, Sydney is still up for a good boogie, the trick is knowing where to look and not relinquishing a night out because you think it can't be done. It can – here's where to start.