The smart urban tweak that got Sydney dancing in the street

It’s a Thursday evening at Darling Harbour, and within two days the currently silent FIFA fan site will be heaving under the weight of thousands of soccer fans cheering on the Matildas in the World Cup quarter-final against France.

But Jericho Lim isn’t here for the football. As the 21-year-old turns on his Bluetooth speaker and throws down his towel in front of a stainless-steel mirror, he drops his hands to the floor, behind his back, and tucks in his legs. They swing out from under him, somehow uninjured as they slide across the concrete, before he kicks them out and circles them back around.

Breakdancer Jericho Lim comes to Dancers’ Alley up to three times a week.Credit: Dion Georgopoulos

He’s breakdancing. He’s the only one here now, but within an hour he is joined by dozens of other dancers – doing breakdancing, hip-hop, and K-pop, to name a few – on this laneway between Tumbalong Park and Darling Drive.

The spot, officially called Moriarty Walk, has become known affectionately as Dancers’ Alley, which, as the sun sets each night, swells with street dancers of all backgrounds and ages. It’s grown organically, but it’s also been planned. And it’s a story of how urban design can shape and change a city for the better.

Lim, from Parramatta, visits up to three days a week. There’s something about dancing in public that keeps him coming back.

“I like people’s reactions, the common public, and how they interact with me sometimes,” he says.

“I actually enjoy [dancing in public],” he says. “It introduces people to the scene, and I hope people get inspired to dance because it’s such a good feeling.”

Long before the International Convention Centre was built in 2017, dancers met at Darling Harbour. They danced in front of the reflective doors at the old Entertainment Centre. And, in the redesign of the area, architects sought to create a public space for the dancers to meet.

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