The freshest breath of air in Wollongong nightlife is not the small bar revolution, the revitalised live music scene or a brimming artistic community - it is six young DJs who got their break by making too much noise at house parties.
Their name is Parkside, referring simultaneously to a regular Sunday evening event at the Hotel Illawarra, a string of high-profile parties at venues including Centrepoint Tower and Novotel North Beach, and the friends and DJs Ben Beverley, Daniel Bresolin, Matt Brown, Chris Barker, Tarant Hill and Dean Relf.
Named for their Parkside Avenue home, scene of their original parties, Parkside have evolved from an occasional house music night to a multi-armed collective attracting attention from global dance music figureheads and bringing some of the genre's best artists to the Gong.
"We would get together every Friday night and share music, because the music we liked was only really played in Sydney clubs," says Beverley.
"We got sick of the music scene here because it didn't cater to what we wanted to hear, so we started doing our own events."
Beverley describes Parkside's main offerings as house or deep house - a fusion of elements from soul, disco, R'n'B and deeper electronic sounds. In contrast to the hard-hitting, in-your-face top 40 remixes found most other nights in Wollongong clubs, Beverley says this more refined approach to music has found a willing audience in Wollongong.
"It's a taste of a more international style of music, and it has certainly grown since we've been doing it. When we started, we'd been going out to clubs in Wollongong for a few years, and there wasn't the option to hear this music here," he says.
"Our parties are fun, but it's also a case of the right timing. The house music scene has burst up all over the world."
He credits Sydney record label Future Classic and producer Flume as flagbearers for a more intelligent notion of dance music. Parkside have brought top acts including Soul Clap, MK and Soda to Wollongong, and recently signed to booking company The Musique Agency. They have also been picked to play the Falls and Mountain Sounds festivals, and regularly play some of Sydney's biggest clubs.
A new wave of Illawarra DJs and producers, including Nick Lynar, Dopeamine, Sideways and Alex Ludlow, as well as promoters This House Moves, Lair Lyf and Laze, have cropped up in the last few years. Along with regular Parkside events, all have helped place Wollongong firmly on the map as a new hot spot for the genre.
"There is lots of talent here now. It has always been here, but it is getting noticed a lot more now," Beverley says.
"Melbourne and Sydney are still the biggest centres for this music, but Wollongong is not far behind as one of the next biggest places."
While the six Parkside DJs invariably pack out their regular evenings at Hotel Illawarra - the next local party is on May 18, with Melbourne act Client Liaison - it is far from the only place to catch them. In varying combinations, the guys will play regular gigs at His Boy Elroy or Three Chimneys, pop up at an art launch, or land on the line-up of most other big events booked in Wollongong.
"Parkside wouldn't have worked as well without that dynamic. Having six people means we can all maintain our jobs, not just one or two people hustling to make a living," says Beverley.
"It is a hobby that has grown. We can be in six places at once if we have to, but we always try to have at least two of us at each event."
They play the Flyover Bar in Sydney with Danish DJ Kolsch on May 17, but bigger things are in the works, including a bumper long weekend party and a summer on the Australian festival circuit.
Not bad for a few guys making noise at house parties.