Thursday and the beginning of a long weekend, and a new event is on! Looked promising, so rounded up some friends, we got our presold tickets and were ready to go! Check it!

12:40AM. View from the front podium

12:40AM. View from the front podium

ZEN (Grand Opening) @ Ivy Bar, Sydney – Thursday 28th March 2013
In a response to the successful OPM @ Marquee nights by Urban Agent, competing promoters Syndicate (Kinki/Perfect) and Mizuya (Me2/LKF) with a whole subset of smaller promoting companies decided to launch their own equally big event at a big venue named ‘Zen’, down at the large Ivy bar. Ivy bar would be one of the few venues that would be able to hold so many people.

Opening Hours: 8:00PM – 3:00AM

Address: 320-330 George St, Sydney

Venue Website:

Event Website: None as of yet. Refer to promoter websites for info.

Promoters: Syndicate Events, Mizuya Ent., Colab Ent.

Occurrence: Tonight was the grand opening. It is unknown whether repeats will happen, but considering the sell out, there will most likely be future repeats of this event. It won’t be every Thursday, but just on special days such as long weekends or when uni students are on holiday.

Dress Code / Door Policy: “Strict Dress Code” applies were the words tonight, but everyone was being let in. I wore dress shoes, black pants, white shirt, vest and skinny tie.

Entry Fee / Cover Charge:
– $25 first release (super limited)
– $30 second release (which “sold out” two days prior).
– On the night 8PM-9PM the entry fee was $35(?) then after 9PM it goes up  to $40.

This high pricing could only be successfully pulled off at big venues like Ivy and officially sets a new record high for an Asian clubbing event, since Vanity (now closed) charged people $35 to see some dude sing on one particular night. Also considering only one of the Ivy buildings was hired tonight, these guys have made an absolute killing.

Passouts: No passouts before 11:30PM.

Guestlist / Reserved Areas: See promoter websites for details. Reserved VIP areas require min spend of $1500 at the bar.

Cloak Room: Since everyone has paid such a steep price for entry, the cloakroom was free tonight. A saving grace. Though at the end of the night, the line to get your stuff was ridiculously long. Probably 20-30 minutes.

Assessment Time
10:30PM – 3:00AM

Outside Line:
Throughout the early portion of the night (10PM – 1AM), the line to get inside was pretty quick. With one entry point and fast ID checks without delay, we only lined up for less than 5 minutes. I expected really long lines but they let people in pretty quickly whether you had a prepaid ticket or not. After the entry point you can go straight to your VIP area (on the upper level) via the elevators, or you could walk up the staircase to the main dance floor.


Ground Floor:
Walk up the flights of stairs and enter the rear of the venue. Bathrooms and Bar to the left. Two bars on the right and far right corner behind the stage. The layout of Ivy has been changed since it first opened. Instead of a slightly elevated/closed off area for seated tables and chairs in the middle, this has been cleared altogether for an Elevated DJ/performer stage with the rest of the space left for the dancefloor to hold 150 or so people.

Also on the far above the DJ area is a large LED screen spanning the height of two storeys. At the rear of the dancefloor, just in front of the staircase, is the technicians area for lighting, LED, etc. Around the rest of the dancefloor are some seats and sofas. Walk up the stair case to reach the garden area with another bar and balcony looking out to the main floor.

Around the far back areas behind the DJ and to the left are a handful of taped off “VIP” areas.

The Den (Level 2)
Walk up the spiral staircase at the rear to get to the Garden Bar area. Oversized pot plants and astrograss in the corner. Bar on the back wall. You can mill here or enter the Den, which is a glass enclosed area on one side of the level.

Inside the Den, there are reserved VIP areas each with a balcony overlooking the main floor. Plush seats and sofas abound the place with two bars in the Den area. At the far end of the Den is another room playing RnB / Old School Rnb. The room here has a DJ, bar and more seating. Since last time I was here they have cleared out the large white marble table that was in the middle, thereby providing room for more than ten people this time around.

The 2nd room upstairs by The Den

The 2nd dance room upstairs

NB: Entry to the Pool Club in Building 2 was not part of the ticket price tonight. A separate cover charge was required to enter Pool Club.

Bar Prices / Line:
– Tried to order shots at 11PM but they were not allowing it.
– Gin and Tonic drink was $9.00.
– Generally the wait was about 2 or 3 orders.

Bathroom Facilities:
No line for the mens bathroom and it was also relatively clean for a busy bathroom.

The line for the girls bathroom was at one count, 20 women long. The line probably extended inside as well.

Music Style:
In the main room a lot of Top 40 and RnB was being played, along with typical classic party tunes and quite a few commercial house mashups. It is becoming more of a trend these days to include some of the popular House and even some trance songs into the mix. The crowd reacted quite well to the music. Also, thank god they only played one chorus of Gangnam Style.

Mostly an Asian crowd tonight. The crowd is a mix of Australian Asians and Overseas Asians. Ages ranged from teens to late 20’s and early 30’s. If you have been to the club events Kinki or Me2, its pretty much the same crowd.

Earlier, there was some light rain, and since the middle of the dancefloor is an open air area, people were getting quite wet. The only people who were out in the rain were guys. There were lots of these guys (including me). No girl wants to their hair ruined, their white dresses wet, or have their make up wash off their face into a dripping stream of pigment. Even outside the dance floor, there were  more guys than girls.

After five minutes I could spot only 4 girls in this pic.

After five minutes I could spot only 4 girls in this pic.

An overall ratio of 70:30 boys to girls. Despite this fairly typical ratio, there were so many people here tonight (The promoters claim at least 1,100 presolds and upto 2000 on the night) that were plenty of guys / girls in the sea for everyone.

We have MC’s in each room but no podium dancers of the sort. People were actually free to dance up on the podium, both girls AND guys (gasp, shock, horror). Some were crazy enough to jump up right near the DJ booth.

There were always some sort of crowd on the dancefloor since we entered at 10:30 until the end. The early rain didn’t dampen any spirits and actually helped minimise the amount of cigarette smell getting all stuck up in my clothes. Atmosphere in the main room was quite good, with a big party vibe going on. Outside the mainfloor the bars were busy and people in their VIP areas, well kept to themselves. So not as friendly but they all seemed to have a good time.

Upstairs in the Den, there is a lot of chatting and not much dancing going on. This was the refuge area from the madness of it all, and also inside the Den it was.. air conditioned! The RnB room at the far end of the Den provide some dance for people up here, but people were barely dancing hard, just more of a casual swaying around on the carpeted floor. The real jumping around was for downstairs.

Pretty much a really good vibe tonight, and people stayed through most of the entirety of the night.

Walkthrough and Music timelapse

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My own night
Starting Proceedings
In the beginning there was a podium. This podium had nobody on it dancing, and yet there was a mass crowd of people on the middle of the dancefloor area. So I jumped on up and did some really horrible dance movies, and quickly enough friends joined up on stage, to the amusement of other people. Soon after that more guys came up but only for short periods of time.

After a few songs, we jumped off and immediately, all the formerly timid girls were up on stage, bumping and grinding. It was beautiful. but why didn’t the girls join us beforehand? Who knows.

Sugar Daddy
At the bar upstairs and somehow we end up in a short conversation with a girl and her much older boyfriend.

Girl: “He’s actually my real dad”
Dad: “I’m actually her real father”
Us: “Well, that’s cool”

Then we kind of slowly walked away from each other.

Man, that is so strange! going out with your parants clubbing! Then again, later that got me thinking. Marriage or having children isn’t necessarily the end of clubbing, is it? If you have a daughter and she has a healthy relationship with you, why not hang out with her once in a while. You can meet potential future son-in-laws or daughter-in-laws, if you’re hanging out with your son. And they also get to meet you at the same time. He seemed like a cool father.

Father and daughter

Daddy broke his wrist karate chopping some lame potential son-in-law

As to whether the father approved of me – During conversation he kept spitting on my face. I think the answer of approval is no.

Free gum
There was a girl holding onto one of the oversized pots and dancing with it. So I talked to her. After a while she kindly offered me gum. Free shit! Score!! A very nice gesture, but then realisation came over me: OH MY GOD MY BREATH STINKS!! There could be no other explanation to it. So, so embarrassing.  This probably was why my wingmanship tonight was not going so well. Stupid alcohol.

Upon Departure

The end of the night came all of a sudden. We weren’t told about “last songs” or anything. The music just ended and the MC was like “Thanks for coming!”. Some boos and people so still buzzed up they wanted to know where they could go next. Nowhere unfortunately.

Final Thoughts & Recommendation

Tonight was quite a solid night from start to finish. All my friends enjoyed the night. Not much lining up, great atmosphere, party tunes and not too much ciggie smell makes me happy. I wouldn’t pay $40 at the door for it but if I did come back, I would be going for pre-sold tickets when this event occurs again.

Zen (Thursday) @ Ivy Bar – 8.5/10

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2 Responses to Zen (Grand Opening) @ Ivy Bar Sydney

  1. Hey James, thanks so much for your info, I always check out this site before considering nice places like this. I was wondering what you thought of the balcony areas or tables that people reserve, are they private much? I’m planning to have a spot for my birthday. Are they comfortable for 20-30 people in terms of space and location? I haven’t been so I am not sure what to expect. It’s always nice to have a second opinion other than the promoters!

    As always, thank you!


    Miss Eliza WonDerland

    • James Tran says:

      Hi Eliza,
      The rooms – not very private at all, I would say though you are all facing out to the balcony you would soon ignore everyone else behind you at the bar.

      You can always visit as a smaller group and have a look at how they are like, the only main advantage I would say is that you at least have your own seating area – – its quite difficult to get seating in Ivy.


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