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Sublime - Put Your Hands Up For Sublime

Author: Jane Stabler
Monday, 7 July 2008
1996 was a strange year in Australia. For one, we got rid of Paul Keating for what really was little more than a giant (and annoying) koala, the northern territory made killing yourself legal (revoked the following year) and the Swans made the AFL grand final for the first time in 51 years only to lose it. However, that’s all trivial matter. In the middle of this fair city in 1996 a new club night was born, called Sublime, that would shape this city’s clubbing scene over the following decade to today. On the eve of the club’s twelfth birthday, 3D’s Jane Stabler caught up with club ambassadors Nik Fish and Amber Savage for a trip down memory lane.

If somebody asked you to name the city that harbours the longest running club night in the world, where would you suggest- London- Berlin- New York- Manchester- Detroit- Ibiza, right-

Wrong. You’re in it, baby.

Entering its final pre-teen year and turning 12 this week, Sublime officially takes the title of longest running club night in the world and cements itself further in the international dance scene as an event to be reckoned with.

Nik Fish, a fixture of the club night since its very beginnings, and Amber Savage, who has dedicated the last five years of her own life to the cause, are as enthusiastic about the concept now as they were when they first started with the night. Fish’s passion for the night is evident not just by his commitment to it but through his recollections of the early days of Sublime.

“I was approached one night at a gig back in the mid ’90s by Jon Wall and Ming Ghan [Fuzzy] and asked if I wanted to be part of a club night called Voodoo at a new venue in Pitt St, Sydney called Sublime,” he reminisces. “I played in the back room with fellow DJ Jumping Jack. We are [now] both the longest serving resident DJ – 12 years to be exact!”

“A lot of people don’t due any job for 12 years!” Savage cuts in, laughing. “It’s like long service. It’s a joint effort [at Sublime] and everyone works a lot harder than they should, but that’s what ultimately has led us to this success.”

Although they’ve spent the majority of their careers dedicated to Sublime and have seen the continued success of the night as the years have continued to roll by, there is still a level of incredulity amongst those involved that they are about to claim an international title in the highly competitive and often fickle world of dance. Both Fish and Savage do, however, have no doubt over the commitment and passion of those involved to the event and its continual evolution, and believe this is ultimately the reason for the night’s success

“Who would have thought Australia would actually beat Europe at something,” Savage muses. “They have such a more solid scene, so it’s great. [This is] just the icing on the cake.”

Fish agrees. “Sublime’s success doesn’t really boil down to one particular point,” he says. “I’d say having a boss who is not only a little eccentric but a true visionary, as well as a great support team of people who simply have a strong passion for what they believe and know, all adds to why we are so successful. The evolution of sublime [has seen] the doors of the club open to give the opportunity for new breed DJs like Amber and Archie to become part of the sublime resident DJs. This ethos has continued with even newer DJs being given the opportunity to play at Sublime – DJs like Matrix and Pulsar and Suae for example. Running parallel to this is the Young Guns room which allows lesser experienced DJs a chance to DJ live in a proper club environment.”

With their history of continual growth and support of DJs, coupled with international recognition, it can be hard to believe that Sublime was initially set up as the trial model for weekly dance events. Now such a common occurrence in clubs around the country, it can almost be claimed that Sublime is the reason the others exist in the first place.

“Yeah, I didn’t think of it like that, but you’re right,” Savage considers. “Basically clubbing wouldn’t be like it is in Sydney if it wasn’t for Sublime. I just got so used to it, you just see the scene chugging along, but now that I’ve seen the workings of such a big machine you see that the amount of work and stress that goes into it is insane. I think a lot of people take it for granted [but] it’s hard work, it’s blood sweat and tears. But I make sure I give my thanks, I make sure I appreciate it enough.”

From its very humble beginnings, Sublime seemed destined to succeed. Even the change in venue in 2000 from Pitt St to Home didn’t diminish the popularity or the crowd. It seems Sublime was unstoppable from the get go.

“It’s just uncanny,” Savage admits. “It went from a smaller venue to Home, and when clubs move venues it’s usually the death of them. It’s a stigma, and [Sublime] moved to Home and had 5000 people on the opening night. They had to turn away a couple of thousand people on the first night!”

With an event that has proven its ability to remain relevant to an ever-changing crowd without losing its core values, the obvious question now is where can you take an event that is already so successful-

“I think we’re all asking ourselves the same question,” Savage admits. “We’re dabbling in travelling around the country and taking what we’ve managed to achieve and love so much with us. When a brand gets to that stage, you have to branch out. I know for a fact everyone who works [at Sublime] isn’t ready to give it up. There’s nothing that needs to be done to the crowd, but I think just trying new things, getting more creative.”

Fish concurs. “We are always continuing to redevelop and progress with new ideas and technologies. As the world changes so too does Sublime, but one thing remains constant: quality. With the music styles, the DJs, the promotion and so on.

“Times have changed and the music may change but one thing has remained the same and that’s Sublime is solid.”

WHAT: Sublime’s 12th Birthday at Home
WHEN: Friday 11 July