Big sounds, sweat, and a haircut you’d rather forget. Grab your low-rise jeans and follow us underground to reflect on the history of Sydney rave basement Candys Apartment.
20-26 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross is home to Candys Apartment and the recently departed The World Bar / Cali Club. This heritage listed building, which in 2017 was on the Market for $20M, has always been notorious – but never more so than in the late 00s. Prior to 2014, Kings Cross had always been a place that was in equal parts criminal and cultural, a bohemian hub where counter-culture thrived. Candys entered the Kings Cross ecosystem at the turn of the millenium, in perfect time to catch an Australian dance music culture that had been evolving into something truly unique.
Candys quickly established itself as THE hotspot at the forefront of Aus music culture and a place for emerging talent to find their feet. With acoustic talent and DJs coexisting from time slot to time slot, the small sweaty space became a hub of creativity, a place for young talent to connect and club goers to be exposed to an emerging electro sound. As the electronic identity of the 00s grew stronger during the second half of the decade, Candys became the birthplace of some of our biggest exports.
At the peak of its fame Candys was renowned for being the club of choice for international headliners making their Sydney debuts, Skrillex and Porter Robinson included. But rock up to the club on any given Saturday night in your hipster Ksubis (Motorola flip phone in pocket and Jager Bomb in hand) and you could be treated to a fire lineup of Australia’s finest. The Presets, Hayden James (as part of Hey Now DJs), Art vs. Science (possibly playing as punk friends Roger Explosion), Cut Copy, What So Not (Playing as Elmo Is Dead), Golden Features (Bomber of Kyro and Bomber)… the list (and fantastic 00s monikers) goes on. The crew was insanely strong.
“I’d commonly be playing alongside Hayden James, Jimmy 2 Sox (Flight Facilities), the Bag Raiders guys, Alison Wonderland, Bang Gang, Ajax,” says Ben Plant of Miami Horror. “At this point it was before Hayden James, Flight Facilities or Alison Wonderland had really popped. It was really interesting to see a lot of people come out of this early scene.”
Miami Horror were a frequent headliner, with their emerging sound making a big impact. Ben reflects with us on that late 00s scene.
“It was really vibrant. It felt like it was a period where everyone was just so excited about new music and the scene that existed worldwide, a lot was happening at once but it had a strong sense of community.’
A big part of the ethos of the time and place was discovery and experimentation. “Finding and playing the best new music and socializing we’re the two biggest aspects,” says Ben. “It was a colourful time, with lots of variety in the sounds that were being played. It wasn’t so split into particular club genres like we had in the late 90s and have since come back again.”
“You would see The Clash mixed into disco, Cut Copy into Daft Punk, house music into the Rolling Stones. It was raw. I’ve tried to carry this diversity into future music I’ve made. The idea that good music can stand on its own rather than being too derivative of one scene or sound.”
The melting pot sentiment is echoed by many alumni. Alison Wonderland played her first set at Candys Apartment in-between working shifts on the door. Speaking to us in 2016, she says “It would be a religious thing for people to come to Candys in 2008 and 2007. It used to be a really cool open-minded club that would push boundaries.”
A major reunion at the top of 2017 saw some of the Candys crew reunite and a subsequent outpouring of nostalgia. Posting about the night Chris Emerson of What So Not nodded to the early years as a place that enabled creativity to flourish.
“In 2007, a group of friends & I started djing & running a club night in Sydney @ Candys Apartment. I was making $20 a night, not even enough for a taxi to the bus stop to get home, but we did it for the love. With a flourishing late night culture, income from side gig’s at bowling alley’s, local bars & late night eateries allowed us young aspiring artists to study full time & still pursue this passion for our scene…Looking back now I see how important this time was for me & so many other artists. If we didn’t have this creative ecosystem to kick start our vision, none of us would have made it.”
Photo by LWA: Alison Wonderland playing at the 2017 Candys reunion
Though the 2017 reunion might have been the last big hurrah for the moment for this legendary venue, we’ll always have fondness in our hearts for this Sydney icon that kicks on today. Its biggest years may be lost in a MySpace vortex, but the talent this influential little space reared continue to lead Australian dance music today. As discussion around the rolling back of the lockout laws continues, we have hope. As one of the Cross’ last surviving institutions, we believe this legendary party spot can persevere through this strange decade and continue to influence future generations of music makers and lovers.
This story is one of many features, stories, competitions, podcasts and parties in partnership with spiced rum devotees Baron Samedi! Like us they share a desire for a vibrant and thriving Sydney nightlife and celebrate the creativity that only comes to life after dark. Follow them on Facebook for exclusive parties, comps and news.