The Last 7 Jukeboxes in Sydney


A jukebox in a pub is a beautiful and increasingly rare thing.

Some liken it to a Bluetooth speaker at the beach, but a jukebox is a delicious sliver of warm, fuzzy nostalgia, and it works like this: you dig out a coin or note, choose a song and patiently wait for it to play. Music is one of those universal joys, and the jukebox at the pub allows us to share that joy with others, whether they like it or not. But where have all the jukeboxes gone? Where can you go now if you want to torture a room full of strangers with ‘Wonderwall’? Here are 7 places we know of.

Dean’s Lounge, Potts Point

Opened in the 70s, Dean’s Cafe was a Sydney institution if ever there was one. It closed in 2011, but it’s back, now a Lounge rather than a Cafe, a modernised revival of the late-night staple just a short stumble from the heart of the Cross. The current owners are a couple who met working at Dean’s in the early noughties. They’ve reinvented the space and made it something a bit more grown-up, but maintained all the best bits of the original—namely the toasties, and the jukebox. The nachos come in ‘Large’ and ‘Monstrous’ and I’m not sure how I feel about that, but after three Texan Old Fashioned’s it might be exactly what you want to eat.

 

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The Enmore Hotel, Enmore

Another reimagining of a Sydney Classic™, the Enmore Hotel took over from what was once the Sly Fox. At the top of Enmore road (look for the glowing orange Grifter moon) you can play pool or the AC/DC pinball machine, sink a froffy, eat a jaffle (there’s a theme emerging) or a nice pie from the classic pie warmer, and fuss around with an old school jukebox until 3 am—every day except Sunday when you’ll get moved on at midnight. You can also watch some sports or spin the wheel to win a prize supplied by local businesses. Nickelback is available but banned on the music machine.

 

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Erskineville Bowls, Erskineville

What is now Totti’s in Bondi, used to be the No Names Italian Restaurant, an old school, legit, family-style Italian joint where everything was served with complimentary bread. It now resides inside the Erskineville Bowls, as does, you guessed it—a jukebox! I am a big fan of lawn bowls. I am not a sporty person unless you are talking about the Spice Girls, but I do love rolling balls at other slightly smaller balls. If you don’t feel like Italian food, you can BBQ your own tucker. Gather some mates, do a sport, and put ‘Wannabe’ on the jukebox for me. P.S. The meat raffle is on Friday.

The Henson, Marrickville

One for the people, by the people. Sourcing local produce (as locally as their own veggie patch out the back) and focused on ‘quality, seasonality and sustainability,’ The Henson menu is very pub-food but kind-of-fancy (without hefty Sydney prices: nothing is over $30), but it all feels very relaxed and casual. They support their neighbours and the local sports teams (The Henson is home to the Newtown Jets) and the whole thing is just very wholesome. And they have a functioning jukebox. Alongside the jukebox, there are pool tables but, mercifully, no pokies. There is a play space for the small humans, and the beer garden is leafy and gorgeous and dog friendly. Nice.

 

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The Golden Barley, Enmore

The Golden Barley has that magic kind of jukebox that is still coin-operated and projects the corresponding music videos on the wall, which makes it the perfect place to remind everyone how awful ‘Steal My Sunshine‘ by Len was and is. The GB is not a fancy pub, it’s a classic pub. Ample seating areas, dogs and children are equally welcome, the staff still wear a uniform, the beer garden is lovely and it’s all housed in a beautifully well-kept Art Deco building down the bottom of Edgeware Road. The food is rock solid (and includes one of the best schittys in Sydney) as is the beer offering. The pool tables are free Tuesdays and Wednesdays, FYI.

 

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Carlisle Castle, Newtown

Okay, so at this point, I think we can make a pretty strong connection between the Inner West, pool tables and the humble jukebox. If you would like a further dissertation about the connection between these things please contact my literary agent. The Carlisle is the back alley, secret, not-so-secret, dog-friendly Newtown venue that opened in 1876, and is haunted by the ghost of a disgruntled former employee, Pete, who was apparently partial to a glass of red. Pool is free on Tuesdays and the jukebox is one of those MP3 style ones that we thought was really technologically advanced in 2001. Pour one out for Pete.

Paddo RSL, Paddington

A little slice of 1980s Australiana hidden in plain sight, the Paddo RSL is a venue I always strolled past without a second thought until a couple of years ago. Once you’re inside it’s easy to forget that you’re in Paddington: the only activewear here are the tracksuits worn by the old farts in the TAB room. The food is cheap and, honestly, it’s not bad. Plus, the staff are nice, the carpet has that comforting stickiness and you can get a jug of beer for 12$. There are also dance classes, theatre, comedy shows, and live music from a completely disparate array of acts, including ABBA cover bands to local indie bands (including Amyl and the Sniffers!). On Tuesdays and Sundays the pool tables and the jukebox are FREE, so you can annoy the Keno players with your music selection. See you there.

 

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