Sink into the corner Pocket's comfy leather couches, order a drink from one of the cheery waitstaff and chat about the day's adventures accompanied by a decade-defying indie soundtrack. Pop-art murals and exposed brickwork add to the comfortably underground ambience.
Slide inside Slide, a gorgeously converted banking chamber where a colourful crowd of sexy gays and straights shimmies across polished concrete between plush booths and the central bar. If the sound and vision overwhelms, spy yourself a candidate from the mezzanine.
St Jerome’s Laneway Festival
The evolution of a music fest that started in Melbourne’s inner-city lanes comes to Sydney. The ‘lanes’ around Macquarie Pl aren’t nearly as atmospheric as Melbourne’s, but the local and international musical talent is first rate (Augie March, The Panics, Holly Throsby).
Insanely popular and adorned with posters of shirtless stallions, this swanky art-deco booze barn serves up an intoxicating mix of cute guys, thumping music and heady drinks. The decor is to die for, and the window seats take the legwork out of cruising the street.
Good God Small Club
In a defunct underground taverna near Chinatown, Good God's rear dancetaria hosts everything from live indie bands to Jamaican reggae, '50s soul, rockabilly and tropical house music. Its success lies in the focus on great music rather than glamorous surrounds.
Blu Bar on 36
The drinks may be pricey, but it's well worth heading up to the top of the Shangri-La hotel for the views, which seem to stretch all the way to New Zealand. The dress code is officially 'smart casual', but err on the side of smart if you can't handle rejection.
Coogee Bay Hotel
This rambling, rowdy complex still packs in the backpackers for live music, open-mic nights, comedy and big-screen sports in the beaut beer garden, sports bar and Selina's nightclub. Sit on a stool in the window overlooking the beach and sip on a cold one.
On the top floor of the historic Beach Palace Hotel (1887), a massive booze barn at the northern end of Coogee Beach, Aquarium is a good place to be on a Sunday afternoon. The views from the terrace are awesome; DJs and live acoustic acts provide the theme tunes.
Eastern opulence continues all the way to the roof at this late-night Newtown bar with a winged art deco facade. Catch the sunset from the rooftop, settle into a cushioned couch or shoot pool in the funky downstairs bar. Beaut bar food; $8 cocktails until 10pm.
There are two parts to Sydney’s latest favourite late-night wonderland: the Piano Room and the Lounge. The former is where Stevie Wonder played an impromptu gig when he came to town and the Lounge is where 20- and 30-somethings shimmy to dance and electro funk.
Sydney Comedy Store
This purpose-built comedy hall lures big-time Australian and overseas stand-ups and nurtures new talent with open-mic and New Comics nights. US, Irish and Edinburgh Festival performers have 'em rolling in the aisles on a regular basis. Bookings advisable.
Old Fitzroy Hotel
Islington meets Melbourne in the back streets of Woolloomooloo: this totally unpretentious theatre pub is also a decent old-fashioned boozer in its own right. There are airy streetside tables, and a grungy upstairs area with a pool table and scruffy lounges.
Plush chesterfields, art nouveau wallpaper, dark-wood panelling and bamboo screens – the Victoria Room is the spoilt love child of a 1920s Bombay gin palace and a Hong Kong opium den. Don your white linen suit and panama and order a Raspberry Debonair at the bar.
Musica Viva Australia
Musica Viva is the largest stager of ensemble music in the world, providing some 2500 concerts around Australia in a number of musical styles (including chamber music, a cappella, experimental and jazz). Sydney concerts are normally held at the City Recital Hall.
Opened in 2004, this is the most significant theatre built in the city since the Sydney Opera House. The state-of-the-art facility seats 850 and is managed by Sydney Theatre Company. Sydney Dance Company and a host of other troupes also perform here.
Holding over 5000 heaving music fans, the historic white and grey Hordern (1924) hosts plenty of big-name rock gigs (Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, The Presets) and, along with neighbouring halls, the massive Mardi Gras Party. If these walls could talk…