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Locked out all over the world

Sydney likes to think of itself as a global city. So what do other global cities have to say about lockouts?
The Moulin Rouge at midnight
Photograph: Christine Zenino The Moulin Rouge in Paris at midnight
By Time Out editors |

What would happen in some of Time Out's sister cities if Sydney's laws were adopted? We asked them to come up with some theories. From taking to the streets, to underground parties in Paris, their predictions weren't so far from our reality. 

Shanghai skyline at night
Photograph: François Philipp

Locked out in... Shanghai

With cheap taxis, a concentration of bars and clubs in the city centre and generally low (or no) cover charges everywhere, Shanghai’s nightlife allows you to hop from place to place depending on the atmosphere or how well a party is going. Late-night street food vendors fuel you on your way. A lot of this, and the city’s nascent after-hours scene, would be undone with lockout laws. That said, we don’t have anywhere in the city where outdoor drinking is tolerated after 11pm as it is and, as with many of the rules governing nightlife in this city, a lockout law would likely be arbitrarily enforced (if at all) if it were introduced in Shanghai.

Jake Newby, Time Out Shanghai 

Flinders Station at night
Photograph: Roberto Seba

Locked out in... Melbourne

Back in 2008, Melbourne trialled a 2am lockout that was similar to Sydney’s. Three months on, there was a very palpable fear that we were losing the things that made us proud of our city: a strong live music culture and a thriving bar and restaurant scene, for a start. Eight years (and no more lockouts) later and Melbourne is on its way to becoming a 24-hour city modelled on cultural centres like Berlin and New York. Public transport runs all night on weekends, restaurants are open into the small hours and our major arts institutions run occasional all-nighters. If we’d had to close our doors at 1.30pm permanently, Melbourne would be a completely different place to live. I would want my old Melbourne back.

Rose Johnstone, Time Out Melbourne 

Barcelona at night
Photograph: Victor Asensio

Locked out in... Barcelona

What would happen with a 1.30am lockout in a city where 10pm is when dinner starts? Where nightclubs waive the cover charge if you’re in before midnight because that’s considered early? Where DJs carry on until 6am and beyond? Waves of fear would spread throughout Barcelona at the mere idea. It would change the city’s whole timetable, its entire culture, its very heartbeat. We feel for our friends in Sydney, and you’re all welcome to after-hours parties in Barcelona anytime.

Jan Fleischer, Time Out Barcelona 

Paris at night
Photograph: Creative Commons

Locked out in... Paris

If I had to answer to the question, “What do you think would happen to your city if all clubs had to close their doors at 1.30,” I would say that’s a “no pain, no gain” in a sense, because a lot more wild and free parties would emerge in Paris and the suburbs I think. Also, French people quite like to break rules (“transgresser”, in French) – so we will find ways to party late anyway!

Nicolas Hecht, Time Out Paris

Mexico City street at night
Photograph: Tristan Higbee

Locked out in... Mexico City

Mexico City, as other capital cities, moves the same during the night as it does during the day. As the sun sets, city dwellers set aside their daily responsibilities. If we were to lose that much-deserved time to enjoy our amazing and unique clubs, bars and restaurants, we would also be losing our very liberty to enjoy life (responsibly). Nightlife is not about danger, not just about drugs and alcohol; we owe our mixologists, bartenders, musicians, DJs, chefs and artists, much better than that.

Bernardo Robredo, Time Out Mexico City

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