Knowfoowl Fridays @ Tonic, Sydney (02/02/07)

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I was making myself a martini at a New Year’s Eve party in Soho, New York City, when a young man asked me to make him one too. I obliged. He asked how much he owed me. “Nothing,” I said, bemused. He tried to give me five dollars. “Your tip,” he said. “Are you joking?” I replied, offended. It turns out he walked into the party off the street, thinking it was a bar.

Tonic reminds me of that party. You could be forgiven for mistaking Tonic for a house party. As a reviewer for the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out, it’s like your own party minus the clean-up.

Yes, it looks like a house party. A converted two-story terrace tucked away at the end of Kellet Street in Kings Cross, with dim, warm lighting, red walls, modern art and big, comfortable couches everywhere. But there are a few notable differences to your own house party. Firstly, you don’t know anyone (and they’re probably about ten years younger than the people I would invite to my own party), and while there’s a comprehensive selection of martinis, they cost $14 each. Fairly standard for Sydney.

The vibe is relaxed and unpretentious. But the music is fairly loud and people are dancing, even though there’s not an actual dance floor. There’s enough space to show off your dance moves, which is what an oversized man with a mullet was doing and, of course, decides to grab my friend and involve her in his routine. He explains to her that he loves three-letter words, and can she guess what his favourite three-letter word is? F-U-N.

The music is good, refreshingly different from the Ministry of Sound style you hear everywhere else in the Cross. The DJs name is Huwston. He mixes records from his collection with a concentrated passion. When he takes a break, I ask him his name and tell him I like the music. He seems genuinely pleased by the compliment. “Thanks,” he says. I ask him what style of music it is. Jazzy breaks.

The music is funky, slightly R&B and big band-ish. You can recognise the lyrics, but the tunes are jazzed up and it works. Johnny Cash and Marvin Gaye never sounded so good back-to-back. Finally, a DJ with his own unique style.

DJ Huwston plays every Friday night from 8pm. The cover charge is $10 after 9pm. You should check out this bar: it’s a quiet, unassuming gem amongst the self-important Sapphires and Dragon Flies that surround it.

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rodney1 said on the 27th Feb, 2007

always a great night. have heard the S.W.A.T Dj's play there....great funky tunes, everyone is bang up for a dance!