If you were in Sydney in the late nineties, you would’ve been familiar with Atlantis. One word instantly recognisable by thousands. One concept that lit the Sydney Greek clubbing scene on fire. In 1998 it was Sydney’s biggest club and Australia’s biggest Greek club. A platinum line-up of DJs playing the hottest Greek tracks, operated by savvy, passionate entertainment professionals, it was the place thousands flocked to week after week. The club became a defining part of an entire generation, and the phrase “are you going to Atlantis?” became part of the popular vernacular. It was the site where many met their future husbands or wives, and the source of many incomparable memories.
If you are one of the generations that frequently reminisces about those amazing times where Greek clubbing was at its peak, yearns to be able to re-live that standard of Greek nightlife like the ‘good old days’ or if you just missed out on the Atlantis craze but always wish you could’ve been a part of it, you are in for a treat. The brothers that brought Atlantis to life, Harris and Arthur Stamos, are set to give the masses what they want. By popular demand, they have created an Atlantis Reunion event which will take place on Saturday 23 November 9pm – 4am at Universal, Sydney.
GCT spoke with Arthur Stamos about the impact of Atlantis and why they have one of the biggest, most unforgettable nights in store for the reunion.
How did the idea for Atlantis come about?
It was inspired by our annual trips to Mykonos, with Harris spending 3 months a year there back in the day and we set up a Mykonos concierge. We have continued our annual holidays there for decades now.
We had previously owned/operated clubs, one being a Greek club in Bexley, and we were talking about the next Greek venture. Meanwhile, we were also DJing at the largest nightclubs all over Sydney/Gosford/Wollongong for years. I was the resident DJ at Maroubra Seals when it was Heartbeats and got a call asking if we were willing to run a club there and they mentioned ‘Greek.’ My first thought was ‘no way’, the club is huge and the Greek scene’s big clubs were getting about 400 people maximum. I told Harris what I had been offered and to my surprise, he immediately said ‘let’s do it.’ It took him a while to convince me not just to run the club there, but to stop DJing other venues and run the show. I agreed and said, ‘since it’s by the ocean, let’s call it Atlantis.’
Atlantis opened its doors in 1997 and later that year it became Australia’s biggest Greek club. In 1998 it was Sydney’s biggest nightclub. Atlantis shut its doors in 1999 with over 1800 people in attendance.
What did you love about the Greek clubbing scene in Sydney back then?
Seeing the Greek community come together. Everyone making new friends, getting to know one another and having so much fun together.
The Greek club scene had a lot to do with Brighton’s café strip success too. Everyone would gather and talk about last night or a night coming up.
What do you think is the main difference between Greek nightlife in Sydney then and now?
Times have changed, people understand and grow up with different cultures more-so these days and groups of friends aren’t from the same background. As the next generation comes along, we lose a little more of the Greek our parents had. The biggest difference is the licensing laws. There are so many rules and regulations these days that they cannot come close to the fun we had pre-2005 or earlier.
What were the biggest challenges running Atlantis?
Atlantis was a monster of a club with multiple rooms and levels. Managing staff – making sure everyone from the door hosts downstairs, door/cloakroom staff, security, DJs, performers were all doing their job right and, more importantly, they were happy whilst working there.
Then there was the challenge of big crowds outside who could not get in. I remember the General Manager of the club getting a security guard to come up the stairs of the DJ booth to tell me if I don’t get rid of the crowd outside, he will shut us down. This was 10:30 pm, there were thousands already in the club partying and I could not tell you how many were outside, definitely in the four figures. I shouted to them ‘everyone – do not spoil your Saturday night as it is still early, you won’t be getting in, come back another time and much earlier.’
Our hours were initially 9pm- 3am which changed after the first 2 months as people were arriving much earlier and were still there in their masses at 3am. It was insane. The new trading hours were 8:30pm till 4am.
What was the biggest highlight of Atlantis?
I was pretty proud that Atlantis was Sydney’s biggest club at one stage. Just think, if a tourist flew into Sydney and asked where the biggest club is, the answer would be – ‘there’s a Greek club in Maroubra.’ Doesn’t sound quite right, does it?
What is your favourite Atlantis memory?
Not sure I have a favourite as every night had a uniqueness to it. We always had different acts, performers, pyrotechnics, etc.
The most memorable would be during the 1st birthday in 1998. We opened 7 rooms over 4 levels with approximately 4,000 people rocking Maroubra Seals. I hadn’t seen my brother all night. Then as I was running up the stairs to check other rooms and what the DJs/bands were doing, Harris was running down the stairs. We briefly stopped, looked at each other, shook our heads whilst smiling and then continued to run. It took a lot more people than just myself and Harris to make Atlantis a success. But when it all said and done, the people who frequented the club are the ones that made it.
Why have you decided to do an Atlantis reunion?
Every time we are at a Greek event for the last 2 decades, there are always people coming up to us saying, grab all the original DJs and do one more party for old time’s sake. We wanted to but wanted the right type of venue. We did not want a pub, reception lounge or club with a low ceiling. Universal came about and we said, yep we can create an atmosphere there and all the original DJs said hell yes we will reunite one more time.
Universal is a purpose-built multi-level nightclub with state of the art sound, lighting and LED screens.
What can people expect from the reunion?
I’m really excited that the original DJs are reuniting as it was the greatest era in clubbing during my lifetime. The music will take them back in time, every song that comes up will bring a smile. Sooooo much great music to get through.
There will be old footage on the big LCD screens, some video DJing mixing old clips together. A massive light, sound and visual show. Plus a few surprises that people will experience on the night. But most importantly, it’s bringing the people back together. These days some are too busy taking care of others to actually have some fun themselves. Everyone needs a release and deserves a break.
We should also mention that $10 for every ticket purchased will be donated to the Starlight Foundation helping sick children.
Are you and Harris both still in the entertainment business?
Yes, we still put on some events although not as frequently as we used to. We still run our Mykonos concierge company. Harris is also doing a lot of singing, from duos to big shows. I run our Global VIP Events company, where I take clients to major events such as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows, Academy Awards, Grammy’s, Celebrity Parties and Meet & Greets, Golden Globes, etc.
*For ticket information join the Atlantis – (DJs reunite) page here- AtlantisDJreunion
*For a link to the Atlantis CD which over 2000 received on the 1st birthday – AtlantisCD