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Candy's Apartment - Candy's: The In-Club

Author: Jonno Seidler
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

There’s only one way to profile Candy’s Apartment: throw yourself in the deep end, which is exactly what 3D’s Jonno Seidler did when he hitting the club in the small hours of a Sunday morning to see what make’s the locale one of Sydney’s finest and longest-surviving.

It’s been said that the infamous Candy, of this establishment’s title, was a courtesan who entertained gentleman callers in her private apartments. And while the times may have changed, with our sex workers banished to the recesses of William St, Candy’s Apartment remains faithful to its owner’s mission; to entertain by any means possible. I’m called down to investigate the bold new claim laid forth by general manager Tal Chalak that Candy’s is on the brink of revolutionising the nightclub industry. In any event, the place definitely has a prime piece of real estate; sandwiched in between backpacker haven World Bar and the ever-suave Le Panic/Shh on Bayswater Rd, this is a club that typically has a line down the street before midnight. When I rock up at a casually late 1am, not only is the street a melee, but also the waiting queue for Candy’s has swelled to encompass the entire footpath.

But first some context; this is not the first time I’ve been into the uniquely themed Candy’s basement. Tal and his group The Music People having been giving young musicians like me their first break for years, showcasing unsigned acts, running band competitions at their own expense and regularly launching stars right off that little stage. Tal tells me of grand plans ahead to develop Music People into a record label and A&R machine using Candy’s as its base, where young musicians and DJs can come to rehearse and play their first live shows, be scouted and eventually release their own material, all under the Music People banner. They’re looking to take over the world, one new wave/electro act at a time.

The club now known as Candy’s has undergone around five name changes in its history, but is actually the longest functioning nightclub in Sydney, having been swinging since the 1960s. Not content with such historical gravitas, Chalak is quick to point out that some of the biggest bands in the world have graced the Apartment, like Wolfmother, The Presets, Midnight Oil and INXS. But the one aspect where Candy’s leaves the rest for dead are their weekend events, like Bel Air and Boom Boom Megaboom, which combine live bands with DJs who blast out tunes until the early hours of the morning.

Andrew Rose, one quarter of DJ/party outfit Hey Now and long-time Candy’s supporter, leaves another sweaty set to shed some light on the kind of craziness that happens when he gets on the decks. It’s 3am on Sunday morning, relatively early by his standards, but there are still two more sets of DJs to go. “My fondest memory,” he grins, stroking his fiery red beard, “is one night when Hey Now took over the decks and we played for six hours straight. We were the Armin Van Buurens of the rave scene for one night!” According to Rose, who also features as a multi-instrumentalist in band Dead Letter Chorus, finishing at six in the morning isn’t a freak accident, it’s more like a weekly regime. “I keep on a steady diet of water, alcohol and Red Bull,” he laughs, but stresses that DJing at Candy’s requires more energy than the average club set. “When we started playing there years ago, Candy’s were doing the band/DJ format before anyone else. We used to go on straight after bands like Lost Valentinos, Grafton Primary and Van She. We definitely generated our style from those sets. Trying to keep a band crowd around while the dance music faithfuls streamed into the club wasn’t exactly easy.”

Needless to say, looking around at the packed dancefloor tonight, you’d be hard-pressed to find any definitive group of people. Ravers, rockers, young and old are cheering and dancing hysterically like girls at a Jonas Bros concert. Rose (alongside partner Hansom) reckons the line between shredding guitars and melting wax is becoming increasingly blurred. “I definitely look at DJing just like a band performance,” he says, noting his penchant for jumping around, flashing Roc-A-Fella symbols and generally inciting crowd madness. “The music is only half the job you should be doing on stage.” He stays true to this form by applauding Candy’s for being 100 per cent genre free, boasting “we can play electro, house, tech, minimal, progressive, rave, hip hop and rock in the span of an hour and in some weird way it works.” This time around, Hey Now manage to drop their own unique remixes of Benny Benassi, The Prodigy, Kid Cudi and Groove Armada without so much as skipping a beat. It’s a unique feat; one that not only guarantees them a loyal following but also means I’m actually watching DJs and not falling asleep.

Not that it’s easy to fall asleep inside Candy’s. Aside from the constant procession of bodies, there’s a speaker system in there that could easily blow your head off. Rose is pragmatic about the volume levels. “Man, I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve walked out of that club with my ears practically bleeding. It is such a good pain though. It’s not for everyone…but neither is sex with men!”

Of course, Hey Now aren’t the only ones holding down the fort, as Rose is quick to mention the support of the extended Candy’s DJ family: “The friends we have made there are so loyal. You see them every weekend supporting us…other regular DJs like The Gameboys, Boonie, CSK_OK, and Kas_Cid. We’re like one big Brady Bunch! Everyone has to see these people play.” Best of all, after unfair maligning from local authorities, Candy’s is turning things upside down by instating a blanket ‘No Drugs, No Drunks’ policy. Now shifting from the scapegoats to the model citizens, Tal hopes his club “will lead by example,” as they weed out all those punks who ruin your night out.

WHAT:    Candy’s Apartment