Where's the (nu-)disco, Sydney?

Where's the (nu-)disco, Sydney?

By Toby Hemming

It’s 2019 and thankfully, at least to the majority of punters with a passing interest in the dancefloor, disco is no longer a dirty word. Shat on from a great height by the likes of Steve Dahl’s 'Disco sucks' movement, for many years the sound was considered the poor cousin to the more fashionable house and techno scenes.

Thanks to the sterling work over a couple of decades by a global community of believers pushing a disco-influenced sound as main-floor peak-time music, things are now very different. From the edits phenomenon through to Todd Terje and his nordic contemporaries, the high glamour of nights like Glitterbox, and everything from Andrew Weatherall’s ALFOS parties to artists like Peggy Gou and Gerd Janson, ‘new’ or nu-disco has arguably never been more prevalent.

Everywhere except for Sydney that is, a city woefully underrepresented in this end of the dance music spectrum. Melbourne has a strong local scene, and three of nu-disco's biggest global names are based in other Australian cities - LNTG in Adelaide and Casual Connection and Dr. Packer in Perth. So why has Sydney not followed suit?

Luckily it looks like things are on the up for local disco heads, with Goodbar (a venue usually more synonymous with techno, progressive and tech-house) stepping up to launch Family Matter - a regular nu-disco night. We caught up with event co-founder, Sydney heavyweight Uncle Ru to quiz him on the story behind the new venture…

“I’ve been DJing for well over two decades, both here and in the UK, so I’ve been lucky enough to hear and play a huge amount of varied music over the years. My roots were actually in classic Detroit then UK techno (having co-founded Rotters Golf Club with Andrew Weatherall in the ‘90s), but I was also massively into what became the French Touch sound which clearly wore disco influences on its sleeve."

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“These last four or five years I’ve had more of an opportunity to play this out - whether it’s been at Rio for Ricky (Cooper), Rotary for Andy (Donaldson) & Tony (Garcia) or weaving tracks into my closing sets at Lost Paradise. The term nu-disco is bandied around a lot, but I find it best describes what I love. Edits and chuggy ALFOS sounds, the dark spaciness of DJ Harvey through to more cranked up cosmic house elements. It’s so broad, it never gets boring.”

But what made you decide to start Family Matter? And why now?... “Quite simply, Sydney was missing out. This is a global movement with a really loyal following, and to be honest I was finding that bar a few promoters, it wasn’t being presented properly to the Sydney audience. How can you expect it to grow if it isn’t?” he said.

We think a focus on diversity of options for those seeking out the less obvious dancefloor sounds is much needed in our city. Seemingly founded for the right reasons with the promise of a passionate and positive crowd, Family Matter looks like one to watch. So get down to Goodbar for the good times this weekend.

Family Matter kicks off on Saturday August 17, taking up residency at Goodbar. Details here.