Farewell to 505: curtains close on one of Australia’s most important jazz clubs

What started out as ‘board games and jazz’ night in a sharehouse living room developed into one of the most welcoming creative spaces in Sydney

Since it opened in 2007, the small Sydney jazz club 505 has become an institution. The kind of place elite international musicians such as Chris Dave and Charlie Watts might “drop in” just to see what’s happening, and where a whole generation of musicians – including Ngaiire and Sirens Big Band – cut their teeth, playing to an audience that’s more likely to cheer loudly or yell curses than give the expected polite finger snaps.

The venue has moved across three premises in its lifetime, but to enter any feels like walking into an unusually spacious and well-decorated sharehouse living room – paying homage, perhaps, to how it began, as a weekly “board games and jazz” night in a Surry Hills rental. The furniture is a jumble – new, antique, well-loved – with humble staging and PA, and a piano that bears the signatures of musicians that have breathed life into it. Perch on one of 505’s rickety stools and you’ll be so close to the performers you can see spit and woodchips flying across the stage.

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