It was messy, grubby and imperfect, but people kept coming back. The last bastion of a big night out in Sydney has quietly closed its doors.

But on the weekend corners of the internet were frenetic with images of that neon sign unplugged and leaning on the footpath next to building detritus to signal that another of Sydney’s guilty pleasures had made its quiet exit.
City of Sydney councillor Jess Scully has fond memories of Ding Dong Dang.
“The thing that Ill miss about a place like Ding Dong Dang is the looseness and the grunge, and the possibility of that sort of place, you always knew you could end the night there,” Cr Scully said.
“It was imperfect, it was messy and grubby and, yet, we all kept coming back.”
Tyson Koh from Keep Sydney Open, a political party dedicated to issues about the city’s nightlife, said the charmingly run-down venue, with its numerous karaoke rooms and cheap Korean beer, always delivered a memorable night.
“People talk about certain landmarks and famous places in Sydney, but I think, for Sydneysiders, Ding Dong Dang was a true icon,” Mr Koh said.
The venue isn’t without its notoriety, with a 19-year-old man being fatally shot following a fight outside the bar in 2002.
The karaoke bar’s closure during a global pandemic has left former patrons to wonder whether the economic fallout, which has hit hospitality venue’s among the hardest, was to blame for its demise.
The karoake bar’s chequered facade was cleaned of rubbish on Monday morning.Credit:Rhett Wyman
Another late-night institution, BBQ King, closed last month after 40 years in Chinatown.
Sydney’s central business district – of which the bar, near Central Station, is on the edge – is forecast to lose $10 billion this year as workers continue to stay home.
Mr Koh said that, despite its popularity, Ding Dong Dang was no exception to the struggling hospitality industry.
“I know weve been hearing of other venues that have been around for years and years that have not been able to weather, firstly, the hardships around the lockout laws over the last few years, but now the COVID-19 restrictions have just been the final nail in the coffin,” he said.
But the timing could also be explained by the recent approval of a development application to build a 123-room hotel, with restaurants, small bar and cafe, at the address, which had been sold to property developer Hanave in late 2018.
The Herald has sought contact from Ding Dong Dang’s Korean-born owner and licensee, Nina Liew, who has run the business since the early 2000s.
Australian Securities and Investments Commission records show the business was, as of Monday afternoon, still registered.
Sydney Business Chamber’s executive director Katherine O’Reagan said Sydneysiders should mourn the loss of beloved establishments but said it was part of the evolving nature of the city.
“Weve got to remember these things fondly and keep them part of the urban myth. It’s appropriate to do that,” she said.
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Angus Thompson is an Urban Affairs reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.