Spaces where LGBTIQ people have met in Sydney's past have been varied and range across the city's landscape. They include Beats, some workplaces, 'known' pubs and coffee shops attracting camps. Venues began in the early 60s and later pubs, discos, night spots owned by homosexuals and catering to the community sprung up. These quickly diversified to meet the demands of the 'gay' market.

Some suburbs became associated with the lesbian and gay community and clusters of venues fostered gay 'ghettos'. Community dances began with camp social clubs and went on to include fundraising events for activism. By the 80s, the venues and the parties had expanded and this coincided with the need to fund the Mardi Gras.




In a society which did not acknowledge the existence of the homosexual, public toilets and parks were places men met up.

Dennis McManus describes the importance of beats.

Peter Trebilco relates how social status did not protect you from blackmail.



Known Camp Bars

In the 1950-70's, the Camp world staked out a handful of pubs in the city, Paddington and Kings Cross which tolerated or catered for Camps in otherwise straight venues.

They ranged from the regular to piss elegant...

Dennis (Flo) Fuller remembers Early Venues.

Ian MacNeill remembers camp life in the early 60s.

Peter Trebilco remembers the camp scene of the 50-60s.

Rae Morris remembers the Sussex and Pfharlets hotel.


to the rough.

Barry Power remembers the Montgomery Hotel.



Camp Run Spaces

The early 1960's was the watershed moment for drag performance in Sydney.

The Jewel Box, Les Girls in Kings Cross, the Purple Onion in Kensington - remembered by Trevor Parkin and David (Beatrice) Williams.

Chez Ivy in Bondi Junction - remembered by Ivy Richter and Judy Burnett.

The Trolley Car - remembered by Rae Morris, and Kandy’s Garden of Eden in Enmore were places to watch drag and meet up with friends and strangers.

Ivy’s Birdcage at Taylor Square - remembered by Ivy Richter.

Chez Ivys Bondi Junction continued into the 70s and Katy O’Rourke testifies to its popularity.



House Parties

Parties that followed on from the 10 o'clock pub and bar closing are remembered as rare opportunities for camps to have fun, dress up and meet the person of their dreams, even if it was for one night.

Gary Schliemann remembers parties at the Pet Shop.



Social Club Rooms

The camp social clubs set up their own rooms dedicated to shows and parties. In the early 70s, activists set up gay centres and held fundraising dances and ran coffee shops.

Ian Maclean remembers Dances at Darling Street.



The 'Ghettoes'

Some suburbs attracted camps, gays and lesbians over the years.

Angela Crimmon ticks the lesbian friendly suburbs.



The Golden Mile

Gay discos, pubs and night spots sprang up around Darlinghurst, Kings Cross and Bondi Junction. "Oxford St" became code for homosexual in the late 1970's - early 1980's.

There were the first lesbian bars as described by Roni McGarrigle and Sandra Mackay.


There were the mixed “gay discos” and drag venues...

Ray Prasad remembers Patches and Tropicana.

Greg Tucker describes the Barrell Inn at the Cross.

Jan McInnes and Margaret Cummings loved the Curry House.

Karen Brown met up at Kandy’s Park Inn Hotel.



Out at Work

In some workplaces the sheer numbers of camps, gays and lesbians, provided a supportive environment to be openly gay.

Barry Power first encountered a camp work environment working on ships.

Trevor Parkin  discovered the telephone exchange.



Gay refuges

The needs of young camps kicked out of home had been addressed by a supportive network. 

Ivy Richter talks about homophobia in the family.


In the 1980s, twenty10 was formed to help the young ones. 

Angela Crimmon talks about the help she got help from twenty10.




Lesbians and gays moved into “communal households” in the early 70s. 

Diane Minnis and Penny Gulliver shared the legendary Chrystal Palace and Canterbury Castle.



Dance Parties

Inspired by the US phenomena of huge themed dance parties, private entrepreneurs and Sydney's Gay Mardi Gras saw the potential to bring the community together.

Barry Power overhears a conversation.

Ron Smith explains how Sleaze Balls happened.



Out and About

The model of the gay venue has changed since the '80s. What was a 'night out' in the '90s? 

Amanda Miller remembers Icebox and Spicey Fridays.