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From Strip Club to Cultural Hub: Dulcie’s Kings Cross Is Harnessing History

Dulcie's
Venue
Dulcie’s
Website
www.dulcieskingscross.com.au
Address
44B Darlinghurst Rd, Potts Point NSW 2011

The Colourful Cross

With a colourful history of live sex shows, illegal brothels and rumoured heroin dispensaries, Dulcie’s Kings Cross has stripped itself down into a quirky, all-Australian, bohemian boutique.

Embracing the artistic, social and intellectual changes of Sydney during the 1930’s, Dulcie’s celebrates the revelries of the Cross and the eccentric figures who defined Sydney’s culture.

 

“The venue itself was named after Dulcie Deamer, Sydney’s Queen of Bohemia,” Dulcie’s Bartender, Thomas Joseph, explains, “She was a novelist, founder of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, poet, journalist, the first female boxing reporter and a notorious party animal.

“One of the greatest stories that we often tell is of her doing the splits on the bar up until the age of 75, when she had a heart attack and her doctor told her she needed to slow down a little bit. That’s the kind of spirit we want to bring to the bar.”

The crew at Dulcie’s aspire to honour the history of the Cross, featuring heritage listed neon lights from its previous strip club fit out in the bathrooms and naming all its house cocktails after the people and places that shaped Sydney’s identity.

 

 

The Cocktails

One of the house favourites, “Burn ‘Em Down Dawn”, is the perfect example of this.

“This drink is named after the infamous Burn ‘Em Down Dawn O’Donnell; a crazy and incredibly business savvy, hard-nosed, anti-feminist lesbian who transformed Oxford Street into the centre for the LGBTI community,” Thomas said.

Dawn got her hot nickname (pun intended) from her Peaky Blinder’s-esque business approach: burn down your own pubs for insurance money and rebuild them for a profit.

“Her fiery escapades wouldn’t go ahead without warning to the drag queens who worked there. She’d call them up and say “honey, come pick up your wigs”, and the next day the place would be mysteriously turned into ashes,” Thomas chuckled. 

 

Other house cocktails include the exceptionally balanced Naughty Mrs Norton, paying homage to Rosalind Norton – the Sex Witch of the Cross, the Pretty Dulcie named after another Dulcie Diva whose lovers would often die grizzly deaths and Goodbye Mr Bligh in honour of Sydney’s third Governor, Phillip Bligh.

 

Old World Style

With an almost time-capsule-like feel, the art deco bar is charming and decadent. Antique furniture dresses the venue as delicately tasselled lamps and timeworn mirrors dazzle light through to its corners. 

Dulcie’s sophisticated style is a timely development to its surrounds, being situated in an area facing rapid change over the past five years.

“It’s funny, you get people trying to bring back the Kings Cross from five years ago, but it just doesn’t have that kind of party atmosphere anymore. The Cross has moved on and if you don’t move with it, you’re not going to survive.

“That’s something we’ve found to be a great response to us – we are essentially a cool little bar that celebrates the history of Sydney and the Cross, but we are a little bit classier, a little bit friendlier and a little bit more boutique and European,” Thomas said. 

If classy, friendly and a little bit boutique is your jam, be sure to check it out Tuesday-Sunday from 5pm.

Check out how to make the famous Dulcie’s cocktails on the FDM Cocktail Bible!