Locals are petitioning to save popular Enmore nightspot the Sly Fox after newly imposed council recommendations require the venue to shut at midnight. The owners of the Sly Fox believe the new regulations could seriously impact the longstanding late-night venue and could ultimately lead to its permanent closure.
The Sly Fox has operated as a 24-hour venue for more than 21 years, without entry, alcohol or noise restrictions. The venue hosts weekly comedy nights, local and international DJs and improvisational actors’ groups. The popularity of the late-night dancefloor has soared since the lockout laws were introduced elsewhere in Sydney in 2014. The Sly Fox has also been viewed as an important LGBTQIA hub in Sydney for many years. It was at the forefront of Sydney’s prolific drag king scene in the early ’00s, and queer club Birdcage has been holding its weekly Wednesday night dance party at the Sly Fox for the past eight years.
The venue has a complicated history with regard to its operating hours. The Sly Fox Hotel opened in 1998 and was granted a one-year trial period for 24-hour operation. When this trial period expired in 1999, the Sly Fox continued 24-hour operations without renewing its license to do so. This continued for 21 years, until the introduction of the Sydney lockout laws in 2014, when a review discovered the lapsed development application for a 24-hour liquor licence.
However, in recognition of the venue's 21-year clean record, in 2016 Inner West Council agreed in a letter to allow the Sly Fox to continue its 24-hour trading, under the proviso that amplified music cease after 3am. The introduction of headphones for a silent disco has allowed parties to continue into the early hours, and the Sly Fox's owners have invested more than $100,000 in sound-proofing over the past three years.
A new development application (DA) was submitted this year for the removal of the amplified music clause following extensive consultation with DA planners, town planners, acoustic engineers, neighbours, lawyers, Inner West mayor Darcy Byrne and other key stakeholders. However, council officials subsequently requested the venue withdraw this application, citing the Sly Fox's expired 24-hour licence as grounds for ineligibility. The council also retracted its previous letter supporting the continuance of 24-hour trading. The Sly Fox’s owners claim they were told to “bury the letter”, with council staff insisting they would offer the support needed for the venue to regain formally approved 24-hour licensing.
However, on Tuesday, November 12, the council said it would be putting forward a “recommendation of midnight closure with the possibility of a one year trial till 3am”, a move that could severely impact the Sly Fox's night-time offering and potentially lead to its closure, its owners say.
In response, the Sly Fox has launched a campaign to ‘Save the Sly Fox Closing’, which also has Byrne's backing. The Sly Fox is calling on the public to support its application for 24-hour trading by submitting a letter to Inner West Council and by signing a change.org petition.