It’s being touted as the “Tinder for parties and events” and the latest tool in the battle against Sydney’s draconian lockout laws, but the critics of KickOn are warning the new app, which allows hopeful revellers as young as 13 to find private parties and events in their area, could lead to antisocial disasters and police monitoring.
Though the app, the brainchild of Sydney investment banker and tech entrepreneur Charles Stewart, only launched last week, it’s already generated plenty of controversy. The app’s layout is very much based on popular dating app Tinder, allowing users who wish to attend an event to “swipe right” to register their interest.
The host of the event can either approve or reject the hopeful guest based on their reputation (users can be rated in much the same way as eBay sellers). If accepted, the guest is then invited to see the event’s location and is given a unique QR code or ‘Kicket’ that can be used to verify and control attendees.
However, adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg reckons the app is a recipe for disaster. “You are asking for trouble because you’re creating the opportunity for Corey Worthington on steroids,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald, referring to the Melbourne teen whose party was famously gatecrashed by hundreds of strangers in 2008.
Dr Carr-Gregg predicts parents will be “up in arms” about the app and dismissed the in-built rating system as “digital smoke and mirrors”, since users can simply re-register under a different name if they receive a negative reputation, unlike Tinder which is linked to a user’s personal Facebook account.
Meanwhile, NSW Police Association president Scott Weber said the app is “fraught with danger” and could lead to altercations when people are refused entry to an event, though he said he was skeptical about its practicality. “I don’t see it as a winner. There’s going to be no control in regard to the people that attend,” he said.
Mr Weber said hosts would be reticent to advertise house parties on KickOn because it is so public and potentially dangerous, adding that police would most likely monitor the app to find and shut down parties that breach service of alcohol laws or receive noise complaints.
But according to the app’s creator, KickOn is less about staging ragers than it is about personal liberty. “The natural response to when a government tries to limit people’s liberties is for the market to try and figure out a way to circumvent it,” Mr Stewart told Fairfax.
“I personally don’t like being told what I can do or when I cannot do it.” According to Stewart, the idea first came about in December, but the project was given a boost when NSW introduced their highly controversial 1:30am “lockout laws” in February.
“Responsible adults who like to party are being short-changed by nanny state laws, forced to go home at a time when in many other global cities, the party is just getting started,” Stewart said in a press release. “I created KickOn because I knew there had to be a better way.”
Stewart contends that the success and safety of parties is ultimately in the hands of the hosts. “If they want to sit there and swipe right on 3000 people, then don’t be surprised if you end up having a Corey Worthington-style party,” he said.
“Ultimately what we’re trying to do is make private, exclusive parties discoverable,” Stewart told inthemix. “There’s no reason why, if you’re organising a party, a 17 year-old can’t be matched with a 19 year-old, especially if the party isn’t promoting drinking or any other more nefarious activities. We think KickOn could be used to organise a game of touch footy down at the park, so why shouldn’t a 13 year-old be matched with a 23 year-old?”
As Tone Deaf reported back in August, the lockout laws have triggered what some have labelled a “renaissance” of “illegal” parties in Sydney, meaning regardless of whether KickOn does indeed become the Tinder of the party scene, underground parties will likely continue to rage on in Sydney.