Venues Unite for the Night with halt in service

The New South Wales state election is now just three days away and with polls suggesting a 50/50 deadlock, the Unite for the Night campaign to focus on Sydney’s night time economy is in full swing.

As part of the campaign close to 30 leading bars across Sydney ceased service last Friday, during peak service, to talk to their customers about the upcoming election and draw attention to party policies regarding the night-time economy.

Highlighting the Night Time Industries Association’s (NTIA) Unite for the Night scorecard, venue managers and bartenders talked passionately about how this election is a key opportunity to do something positive to start reviving Sydney’s night life.

One venue to cease trade was Ramblin Rascal and Charlie Lehmann, founding member of the Independent Bars Association and co-owner of Ramblin Rascal encouraged all bars and pubs to get involved.

“It might sound crazy to cease service when the bars at its busiest,” Lehmann told TheShout. “But our customers are genuinely interested in revitalising Sydney’s nightlife and were heaps supportive of what we had to say.

“There’s only three more days to the election and we’ll be stopping service again tomorrow and Friday and jumping on the soapbox. If we don’t act now it’s another four years of shitty laws.”

NTIA Chair, Michael Rodrigues also called on venues across the state to get involved this week and help drive a difference, or suffer as more venues close over the next four years.

“The #uniteforthenight campaign has been instrumental in shifting the narrative away from negative connotations associated with lockout, police and violence,” Rodrigues told TheShout.

“Night time economy, music and city vibrancy now frame the debate. We’d encourage all venues to follow the lead of the likes of Old Mates’ Place, PS40, Bulletin Place, Ramblin’ Rascal, Soda Factory and other leading bars who are talking directly to their customers ahead of the election.

“Join the movement and get involved. Elections come once every four years. Our bars and restaurants are highly influential with their audiences. Now is the time to use that influence to inform the voting public.”

While it might seem a difficult thing to do to pause service, the video below shows it is pretty straightforward and the NTIA has the following suggestions on how you can make it work.

  • At 6pm (or thereabouts):
    • cease service
    • turn up the light and turn off the music
    • bring the room to quiet
    • get your venue Facebook and Insta ready to record live
    • have an owner, senior bartender or someone who can speak on behalf of the venue stand up on the bar (if possible) or on a chair behind it and says words to the following:

“We have a venue crisis in NSW. We have lost more than 176 venues since the introduction of lockout laws in 2014, and if things don’t improve soon we stand to lose more.

The NSW state election is on the 23rd March. Now’s the time to get your facts right.

Which party has policies to support Sydney’s night time economy? Who will cut the red tape and over-regulation that is strangling our venues? Who will support live music and the creative economy?

If you care about nightlife and you want your vote to count we ask you to check out the election scorecard at

Thank you for listening and thank you for supporting this venue.”

The campaign is supported by entertainment venues, festivals, retail operators and arts and culture organisations from across NSW, and is the first time these groups have banded together to put these issues on the political agenda.

Details on the night-time scorecard for the major political parties is available on the Unite for the Night website.

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