Friday, October 01, 2004

Delicate souls suffer noise

The licencee of an entertainment venue in Kings Cross said today that every entertainment venue in the area had this week been on the sharp end of action resulting from noise complaints.

This raises the question: is there anywhere people can still go to listen to a bit of music and have a good time?

Those who complain about noise in the Cross might ask themselves why their particular sensitivity should totally overrule, in every last nook and cranny of Sydney, everybody else's right to party.

In all these cases it is one or two complainants exercising their particular preferences over those of tens or hundreds of others.

And the ridiculous noise laws of NSW support this uneven bias, as if the only valid reality is that of a mild-mannered spinster wishing to read the bible in total quiet.

If any of the complainants have ever patronised a venue where loud music is played, they are guilty of intolerance if not hypocrisy.

Meanwhile people living next to serial major development projects wonder why the noise they have to suffer, sometimes for years, is allowed.

The stupid thing is, the quieter the surroundings get, the more annoying become the slightest noises to these people -- as in the case of the Oxford Falls residents who recently complained about the noise of horses clip-clopping past.

Tip: annoyance at noise actually exists in the mind of the annoyed, and can be dealt with by means of basic mental discipline techniques, assisted by a recognition that other people have rights to their enjoyment as well.

Having lived in the centre of a 40-acre property surrounded on three sides by national park and fronting a river, I can assure you that potentially disruptive noise existed even there. (Think guns, chainsaws, roosters and bulldozers.) It's up to you whether you let it get to you.


Anonymous said...

There seems to be a huge number of people who are "sensitive to noise" (as they always seem to justify it) living in the area. The Cross must be one of the noisiest places in the city and why anyone who hates noise would want to live here I can't imagine. Maybe just so they can have a bit of power in the community by squelching community life?

I think it's very strange that serial noise complainers don't believe they have any obligation to manage their "sensitivities" themselves (ear plugs, double-glazing, quieter suburb), and that they self-righteously believe that the community should pander to them and their neuroses.

Staggeringly, the community does, and unfortunately they are too often not regarded as the public nuisances that they actually are.

Anonymous said...

grew up with a great journalist. My father traveled all over the world, gathering evidence, taking interviews, visiting locations, and getting his facts straight. For forty years, he wrote for a magazine that had the largest circulation in the world. He had an unlimited expense account and he knew how to get a story. He had meetings at the Pentagon, the White House and Langley. He recieved death threats and was audited by the IRS eight years in a row for publishing unflattering articles about one presidential administration. Are those "journalistic" qualifications? He wrote at home, at midnight and would've worked in his pajamas, but he said he couldn't concentrate if he was too comfortable. We live in Minneapolis, and the Strib is our paper. He doesn't bother with it. He has been retired for over a decade and almost all he reads now are blogs. He loves them. He is now addicted to Powerline, and Lileks,and Hewitt, among others. He is a great admirer of the Northern Alliance.
Now, I also have a sister who has a weekly column in a Chicago paper. She has never had a single course in journalism. In fact, she went to art school after high school, and dropped out of that to get married. But, she's in print, and according to Nickyboy, that makes her a cut above, because she has access to editors and fact checkers? My sisters column is a humorous look at life from the perspective of pop culture junkie-stay at home mom. Her editor is a twenty something journalism school graduate who routinely edits all the laughs from her submissions and even once, added a screen credit to a cultural allusion that anyone over the age of twenty five didn't need. And the editor got it wrong. My sister was absolutely mortified to read under her own byline that the quote "Plastics" was from the movie Mrs.Robinson.
So much for journalistic qualifications.

Anonymous said...

I am one of the noise complainants and a resident in Kings Cross, so I feel compelled to defend myself against the editors' comments.

Right up front, let's establish that I am not an elderly spinster who is being disturbed reading the bible or a 'delicate soul'. I am a long time resident who works from a home office and can be objective about the noise levels in Darlinghurst Rd.

There are only 2 consistent objections I have against noise in the Kings Cross area.

Strip Clubs - These clubs are pumping out music from external speakers for almost 18 hours a day into public airspace. This is against Council regulations in the City of Sydney. They are not live music venues but are trying to attract punters into the clubs.

Spruikers - The strip club spruikers yell from 9.00 p.m. till sometimes 06.00 a.m. in the morning, 7 days a week. This yelling has no real purpose but again to attract punters into the clubs. Most of the time they seem to be yelling at each other in conversation across Darlinghurst Rd or at the street sex workers.

I do not have a problem with nightclubs or live music venues as that would be hypocritical as I frequent these venues. You will find that these venues are not the problem as most of them comply to licensing regulations, i.e. Bourbon, Vegas, DragonFly. Mostly, they contain the music within the venue, have security who attempt to control the noise levels of the clubbers waiting to get in and respect residents.

The same cannot be said for the strip clubs as some of them are not licensed and are not governed by any licensing regulations. Moreover, their spruikers are supposedly self regulated, which means nothing.

Added to the roadwork noise which commences at 07.00 a.m. 6 days a week and you have a fairly intolerable situation for almost 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

I have tried everything to block out noise and resent being accused of being a wowser. Earplugs are useless and I don't see why I should have to pay $1,000's to double glaze windows. I also don't see why residents should have to consider relocating to satisfy a few dodgy strip club operators, who seem to believe that they operate under their own rules without consideration to anyone else.

I want Kings Cross to remain a place where people can come and listen to live music, party late and have a good time. The strip clubs and their spruikers contribute nothing towards enhancing this atmosphere.

I do not ever expect or want Kings Cross to be silent - that is a ridiculous concept, but is it really too much to expect that venues contain their noise within the walls of the venue, even if it is just after midnight ?

Anonymous said...

"Tip: annoyance at noise actually exists in the mind of the annoyed, and can be dealt with by means of basic mental discipline techniques."

Up to a certain point maybe. I have lived on a 6 lane highway, next to a train line and under the flight path at various times before moving to the cross. I learned to live with that kind of noise and sleep OK. There's just no way you can do it living on the main drag though.

The problem is that as business fades off in the early hours, the strip clubs pump up the volume on their EXTERNAL speakers. These speakers are not there for the patrons inside have a good time. There are speakers inside for them. These speakers are just for attracting new business. nothing else.

So, the quieter things get on the strip, the louder the music gets, and some time around 3:30 you end up getting woken up, and that happens 3 or 4 times a week. If you use earplugs and a white noise generator, you might only get woken up about once or twice a week. Once you get woken up though it's pretty hard to get back to sleep. Earplugs also come out sometimes.

What a lot of us want is pretty simple and pretty reasonable really. There are both residential and commerical buildings on Darlinghurst Rd. Residential buildings have people living in them. All people sleep sometime, most people sleep at night. So it needs to be just a BIT quieter after midnight to let us sleep OK. No one needs absolute silence to sleep (or if they do they shouldnt live in the city). But there is a decibel level above which good sleep just doesnt happen.

Keep music, keep venues, keep 24 hour bars, keep the non-stop party nature of the place, its no worries. Just shut off the music pumping out of the EXTERNAL speakers of the strip clubs after midnight.

If that happened, we could all get some sleep. And I reckon that those of us who been suffering long-term could do without being given some pop psychology meditation techniques, thanks all the same mate.

The Editor said...

I can't see how keeping the volume down on the external speakers would be a problem for the clubs. The shouting referred to above is probably unnecessary, too -- probably overcompensation for the lack of life in the street compared to days of yore. Have you tried talking to them politely and directly? One good tactic is to tip them off (nudge nudge wink wink mate) that a resident's committee is taking a big complaint to council & the police. I've seen it work a treat!

However, let me tell you, two streets from the Cross we regularly get woken up as well -- by groups of people arriving back at their parked cars, laughing, talking, partying, revving up, sometimes tooting horns and wheelspinning away. It's just part of life if you live in a lively place.

What's going to happen if the Cross does revitalise to its old self? Are main street residents going to ride with it or try to fight it? A big city needs places like the Cross -- but if noise rules rule we could end up with deathly boredom everywhere after midnight. This has been an issue in the Cross for decades.

Tip: I don't think pop psychology had been invented 2,500 years ago when Buddha was around!

Anonymous said...

There is NO way I would approach any of the strip club owners or the spruikers in Darlinghurst Rd.

I made this mistake once and only once. At 0600 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I spoke calmly to one of the Porky's spruikers who had been yelling steadily to his mates across the road for the past 3-4 hours.

I was verbally abused using every possible swear word in the book. Other spruikers joined in and I felt really threatened and intimidated. Enough to make me realise that as a single female living in the main drag, I should keep my opinions close to my chest and my profile low.

The council is already involved, but these clubs, thanks to archaic regulations, are a law unto themselves. The police are also powerless.

Until things change, I will be remaining anonymous. I have to walk past these guys every day and I feel safer that way.

The Editor said...

I can believe that -- some of them hassle me when I am up there taking photos. However others are really friendly and reasonable when approached in the same way.

Why don't you try via the Police next time you have a problem? If you don't get any joy, Supt. Steve Cullen will remedy that -- or so he says, and I tend to believe him!

I agree they should be quieter, but I also believe spruikers are a necessary force on the streets when the drunken yobbos descend.