Bars and Nightclubs
Oxford Street, Sydney

Lo Fi

383 Bourke St, (Above Kinselas), Darlinghurst, NSW
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After a stylish revamp The Middle Bar in Darlinghurst has been made over into Lo-Fi, a bar and art gallery. Artistic without being snobby or swanky, Lo-Fi is a bar with a cosy balcony overlooking Taylors Square and Oxford Street. Open from Thursday to Sunday, the venue flaunts eclectic furnishings, an exhaustive cocktail list and an artsy decor. The perfect supplement to the trendy interior design is Lo-Fi’s diverse taste in music.

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Lo Fi Review

Review By Marissa Wilford

Over-looking the water fountain at Taylor Square where many homeless men seem to shower, Lo-Fi is located just above Kinselas where Middle Bar used to be. Unlike the small bars surrounding, it’s not too difficult to locate as the line in can be close to non-existent or super long you’re cast off into the depths and depressions of surrounding pubs. With that being said, once you’re at the entrance, the bouncers are surprisingly super friendly and happy to help you find your way as well as tell you how “gorgeous” you are.

Moving up the stairs, faced by a huge blue mural of what appears to be a face, it’s easy to see that aesthetically it is impressive and functions not just as a bar but a gallery above for artists, designers and the like to showcase their work as well as have some visual impact on the general design.

The vibe here is obvious as it remains consistent with that air of urban culture and is relatively easy-going. Rounding the bend after passing the blue mural, the side room features furniture done up in old pairs of jeans and sloppy-joes. The big outdoor balcony has an impressive view of Oxford Street, accompanied by a nice chill breeze as we ease on into summer. A string of light bulbs in an array of colours illuminates the deck and a brightly coloured graffiti feature wall sets the back drop for some outdoor cooking. On the other side of the bar, in what feels like a done up community hall is lined with leather lounges, tables, another artsy feature wall and a ceiling to floor length mirror. This area makes for great social hangs but also doubles as a dance floor. It can’t be helped; the DJ knows what’s up.

Having visited this spot a number of times, it is easy to see why it’s popular.

For one, the place is funky (for lack of a cooler term) and does play out some serious beats – from RnB to proper old school hip-hop to pleasant and non-invasive house. This aural amalgamation is the bomb – even for the most tone retarded of the population.

Age ain’t nothin’ but a number here as the overall crowd are anywhere from their early 20’s to late 40’s. There was a time not long ago the crew and I were introduced to “The Man”. No real name but he was definitely pushing the age bracket. He seemed to be down with it though.

Another point of interest is that all the bartenders are attractive. As well as being quite friendly and hospitable. Maybe a little eager to please with the drinks – sipping a Caprioska there was an over-whelming feeling of “welcome to drunk” – but maybe that’s not such a bad thing. Overall though, the friendly attractive bartenders are a pleaser and compensate for the over-bearing three page cocktail list (the cocktails are priced reasonably, with an average of $16). Don’t freak out, they do mixers at about $7.50.

A night out here and you’re guaranteed some fun. Bring your mates, bust a nut and get wild!

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A 2nd Lo Fi Review

Review By Sarah Han

Located above Kinselas, where Middle Bar used to be. It’s a gallery and bar, quite like Oxford Art Factory (just a few blocks down on Oxford Street), only much more stylish and mellow. While I love OAF to bits, Lo-Fi has won me over as my new favorite venue.

Ironically the term lo-fi stems from “low fidelity”, referring to a lower standard of music. But this bar has a great (no, outstanding!) sound system. And with the thumping bass comes a great choice of music. All the times I’ve been to Lo-Fi, an exciting mix of Hip Hop, R&B; and electro reverberates through the bar and diffuses through to the balcony. I especially enjoyed the random 90s songs they played, like Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song.

While the sound system and music at Lo-Fi gives it a nightclub feel, the open-air balcony adds a chilled out and down-to-earth atmosphere compared to a claustrophobic club scene. The balcony looks over Taylor Square in Darlinghurst, allowing us to do some people watching while enjoying the fresh (well, the cigarette-smoke infused) air. We sit on mismatched furniture – little stools, bigger chairs, tiny tables.

The venue displays some interesting and artsy wall decorations. One that I particularly noticed during one of my visits was a mirror that has a black shadow of a window-washer on it (this changed the last time I went – the venue seemed to have gone through a makeover or a change of artistic direction). Complementing the arty venue are the patrons. People are fashionably but also eccentrically dressed.

A glass door leads to the bathrooms. This provided endless entertainment for us, as quite a few intoxicated customers walked head-on into the glass door. The next time I was there, those doors were left open, presumably to avoid said embarrassment and injury.

The only downside to my Lo-Fi outings was the service. The first time I popped into Lo-Fi, the bartender who served me was cold and displeased when I ordered a cocktail from the very long cocktail list – it’s so exhaustive that it actually took me at least 15 minutes just to read through it all and make a decision.

Lo-Fi is pretty small, but I’m fond of its size. Compact and artsy is just how I like it.

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A 3rd Lo Fi Review

Review By Samara Clark

My first night out at Lo-Fi occurred mistakenly. It was a Tuesday and we were waiting for a taxi after a quiet night of tapas and wine across the road at Coco Cubana, when the (kind of hot) British bouncer invited us inside with a $20 gift card. We thought ‘Why not?’ and walked up the stairs.

Having never been in before, and being so close to Oxford Street, I was definitely open-minded upon entry and expecting the worst. Now, I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surpirsed and this venue quickly became one of my favourites.

Lo-Fi is located above Kinselas and before you dismiss it, let me tell you it has been transformed greatly since its days of being The Middle Bar. The first thing I noticed after I entered was the dumplings. Yes, dumplings. You canget them in Lo-Fi at a great price and they are authentic and well-priced. The service is speedy, and the range is extensive. The decor is suitably quirky and I’ve found that although its definitely a little on the squishy side, the overall atmosphere is friendly and fun- perfect for a quick eat.

Continuing upstairs to the main bar, the next notable thing about this place is its awesome interior. It’s modern and rustic at the same time. Everything about it is appealing: from the reasonably priced drinks to the impossibly high score out of ten that I’d give the crowd for attractiveness. The furniture is randomly placed and doesn’t match but somehow it all seems to work and gives off that arty vibe that everyone loves to hate. There really is no denying that this place is trendy.

Although an alcoholic beverage here isn’t cheap, it also isn’t overly expensive. For around $7 you can get a standard spirit; which lets be honest, is what everyonewants.

To accompany that drink, Lo-Fi provides an entertaining view, that can be observed from the spacious balcony overlooking the Taylor Square fountain. People watching from this spot is at its finest and that alone would be enough to make my night memorable. But, if watching flamboyantly dressed individuals walk/stumble around doesn’t quite do it for you, the resident DJs will surely impress. The music here is varied and you’ll find yourself moving inside to the dance floor soon enough.

The only negative I can think of to say about Lo-Fi is that it often starts out as a nice spot for a drink or two and we find ourselves there all night long. And ending up with dumplings at the end of the night, instead of McDonalds or Kebabs.

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