SYDNEY is the city I've called home for the last 25 years.
It's a city surrounded by beaches, where a bikini is considered a legitimate outfit.
If you can get over sitting in endless traffic before sunrise and those $9 Acai smoothies (they're worth every cent. Whoever is telling you that you're getting ripped off is lying), then it's a pretty bloody great city to live in. Cue Lara Bingle asking "where the bloody hell are ya?"
But unfortunately in the last few years, fun-loving Sydney has become an absolute joke. A bad joke. Its night-life in particular, thanks to the controversial lockout laws.
Now, I'm warning you. What I'm about to discuss is a first world problem. I know there's a million more important things going on in the world but try and tell me this scenario isn't ridiculous:
Last weekend I had two largely unsatisfying experiences with Sydney security guards. On the first occasion a bouncer removed me from an area for drinking a plastic cup of water, and on the second I was kicked out of a venue for ... wait for it ... wearing a hat.
I was out celebrating my birthday at one of my favourite spots in Newtown. Given that it was a 30-degree day, I was decked out in a singlet top, shorts, Vans sneakers and said hat.
I went to a Catholic primary school and we were taught to live mainly by these two rules; Smile with Christ in your heart and no hat, no play. I love my hat. I even named her Shirley and she deserved a night out. Plus, it was Newtown - the Sydney suburb where anything goes.
After a few hours, security came around and asked us to finish up our last drinks and move downstairs because the rooftop was closing. We elegantly finished our last beverages and headed downstairs.
The dancefloor was packed with a sea of sweaty people, grinding up against each other to Christina Aguilera's Dirty. This is my type of party.
As I was in the middle of an intense dance battle, a security guard tapped me on the shoulder and told me to take my hat off because of the 'no-hats-after-10pm-rule' that this bar apparently had.
I did what I was told and took my hat off (even though I thought it was absolutely ridiculous and of course a rule only Sydney would enforce).
Ten minutes after the ridiculous hat incident, a friend bought me two drinks. I was 'double parked'. Those drinks weren't going to carry themselves. So, I put my hat back on (for literally six seconds), a vodka orange in my left hand and another in my right and walked towards a quiet spot on the side of the dancefloor.
Next thing I knew, my drinks were confiscated (that's $30 down the drain) and I was pushed outside because of this hat that is apparently a "threat to their security." Dammit Shirley! I wasn't being loud, obnoxious or sloppy (so pretty much every stereotypical drunk Aussie). It was purely because I was wearing a hat after 10pm.
FYI, this isn't a statewide rule because the bar next door didn't have an issue at all. Shirley had a great time there.
I was more shocked that security didn't have an issue with my friend's fish shoes. Surely, they're more of a hazard? They may not be a "threat to security" but they're definitely a threat to fashion (and also made out of thin, slippery plastic. Think Crocs but worse). I'm only saying this because I'm jealous and I want a pair.
In all seriousness, I think the reason I am still so shocked by this - enough to write about it - is because the night before I was out in Surry Hills and I was told I couldn't stand outside the venue with a cup of water. WATER!? I had to either go inside and drink it or leave it on one of the tables.
What do tourists think when they come to Sydney? Because I'm seriously embarrassed.
Gone are the days where you could head out spontaneously and jump from bar-to-bar, club-to-club. Now, a night out in Sydney has to be carefully calculated. If you don't have a schedule with an organised list of pubs and clubs you wish to visit before 1am, forget it, you're screwed.
I have come across many cool security guards on my nights out in Sydney over the years. And by many, I mean two. And, I can assure you when I was wearing that hat and sipping on that water outside the bar, I wasn't looking for any trouble.
I understand that certain rules need to be put in place to keep people safe but this is a stupid rule.
Shirley didn't let me down that night. Sydney and its ridiculous rules did. No hats, no play.
If you have a fun story about Sydney's great night-life that you wish to share or you want to know where you can get a pair of those sexy fish shoes, hit me up on Twitter.