Melbourne Clubbing Guide
Tue 7th Dec, 2010 Lists and Guidesin
Is Melbourne the clubbing capital of Australia? Its residents would sure like to think so. The city certainly isn’t short on selection, and here’s some of the best.
House rules at Alumbra. Housed in a heritage-listed cargo shed on the water, the unique venue offers a vantage of the Docklands precinct and beyond. It’s also able to hold 700 revellers in its penthouse-style surrounds. With that kind of plush environment, you need a complementary soundtrack, and that’s never a problem at Alumbra. Kaskade, Ron Carroll and Carl Cox & Eric Powell’s Mobile Disco are among 2011’s distinguished guests, and they’re ably backed up by some of Melbourne’s finest house selectors.
WHERE: Shed 9, 161 Harbour Esplanade, Docklands, Melbourne
Serving the club-going folk of Melbourne for some 40 years now, Billboard remains a favourite for its always good line-ups and Russell Street location. If you’re in town this year and are looking for something to do chances are there’ll be something good on with Billboard’s 2011 already booked up with A-Trak, De La Soul, Laidback Luke and Carl Cox.
WHERE: 170 Russell St, Melbourne 3000
Brown Alley @ The Colonial Hotel
Known as the Colonial Hotel by day and Brown Alley by night, this venue stands strong as one of Melbourne’s most reliable dance music venues. Often the home of notoriously good parties by Sunny, Darkbeat, Liberate and The Likes of You, the last 12 months alone have seen the likes of Twisted Audio, Marc Romboy, Agoria, John 00 Fleming, James Zabiela and Hernan Cattaneo pass through the Brown Alley doors.
WHERE: 585 Lonsdale Street Melbourne VIC 3000
While Chasers is very much a commercial club in the thick of Prahran, international guests often pass through its doors. Local trance specialists Majik Entertainment chose the venue for Sied van Riel’s 2011 tour, and it’s certainly equipped with the lighting and lasers to suit such an event. Most weekends, though, the resident DJs opt for accessible house and R&B, playing for a bustling, Chapel Street crowd.
WHERE: 386 Chapel Street, South Yarra
The Croft Institute
The Croft Institute oozes cool, from its hard-to-find location to its dangerously good cocktails to its idiosyncratic interior design. Set across three levels with a main room styled on a 1930s gymnasium at the top, there are plenty of musical treasures to be found within. The bookings tend to lean towards high-quality deep house, funk and disco, with guest like Rick Wade, Simon Caldwell, DJ Rahaan and Recloose in recent times. You can bank on a very good night out at The Croft.
WHERE: 21 Croft Alley, Chinatown
The Forum Theatre
The Forum is one of Melbourne’s oldest and busiest live music venues. Since first opening back in 1929, the extravagantly decorated venue has seen acts like Shapeshifter, Moloko, Booka Shade, Digitalism, UNKLE, Dizzee Rascal and DJ Shadow.
WHERE: 154 Flinders Street Melbourne VIC 3000
Proudly boasting it has the best sound set-up in the city, Melbourne’s beloved Hi-Fi might just be on to something with its savvy soundproofed set-up designed for maximum volume and maximum awesomeness. Its panoramic layout is also a favourite with fans who flock to catch touring heavyweights such as Caribou, Four Tet, Andy C, Foals and more.
WHERE: 125 Swanston Street, Melbourne 3000
la di da
Espousing an “an open all hours attitude”, la di da is spread across a range of distinct sections including a restaurant, cocktail bar, courtyard and club. With a plush fit-out across the whole venue, it’s used for a range of different after-dark activities (and daytime dining for the suits crowd as well). Its regular fixtures are Poison Apple on Saturdays and Like Fridays to finish the working week, while club brands such as The Likes Of You have taken over for one-night-only events.
WHERE: 577 Little Bourke St, Melbourne
All things left of the mainstream are welcome at Loop Bar, with the art space and intimate venue catering for several electronic niches perhaps under-represented in other clubs. Every night of the week has something to offer.
There’s the Thursday night MOOD residency catering for quality deep house, the regular appearances from the Cosmology and Unstable Sounds crews, live electronica, screenings of short films and plenty more across the artistic spectrum. You can see why Loop says it ‘re-themes and re-invents itself nightly’. Free entry is often an added bonus, too.
WHERE: 23 Meyers Place, Melbourne
“It was the grungiest and most underground looking place I’ve seen in ages and I loved it,” said an ITM reviewer of the latest Tastes Like Techno party at Melbourne’s Mercat Basement. Tucked away under the Queen Victoria Markets, this literally underground venue attracts only the most discerning crowds.
WHERE: 456 Queen St Melbourne 3000
Catering to the staunchest dance fans around alongside your fringe-sweepin’ hipster kid, Miss Libertine has established its own vibrant identity on the Melbourne scene since it first fired up the decks and opened its doors. In that time the club has played host to the likes of DJ Assault, Jokers Of The Scene, Sam Sparro as well as regular nights from Omelette and Purple Sneakers.
WHERE: 34 Franklin Street, Melbourne 3000
My Aeon Bar & Club
There’s a lot of goodwill in Melbourne circles about My Aeon, a club that’s got right behind a diversity of hometown talent over its three years on the scene. The no-frills, laid-back venue includes outdoor spaces and a well-equipped club area, making it a prime location for afternoon parties that stretch into the night. It’s a great place to hear true Melbourne sounds, whether it’s techno, electronica, dub or many variants in between.
WHERE: 791 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Little expense was spared on the opening of Neverland in 2009, with the sizeable ‘entertainment venue’ incorporating large-scale sound rigs, a raised DJ platform, towering visual screens and integrated lighting.
While you won’t find weekly dance events (it’s often used for large-scale functions), Neverland has been used to good effect by promoters, notably the Lost In Bass party in early 2011 with DJ Marky and Andy C. With indoor and outdoor areas, it’s well set-up for a large-scale party, but it takes some pulling power to pack it out.
WHERE: 32-48 Johnson Street, South Melbourne
Melbourne is rightfully renowned for its character-filled boutique nightclubs, and New Guernica does a stellar job of keeping that flame alive. With activities happening every night of the week and a menu of cocktails and tapas to fuel its well-heeled revellers, on weekends it also hosts some of the city’s most respected parties.
Darkbeat, Blow Your Own Way and Soma Corp have all made use of its charms, with 2011’s guest-list so far including Ame, Dixon, James Curd, Canyons, Sidwho?, Shit Robot and other esteemed house and disco talent. As you’ve probably gathered, New Guernica lives up to the hype.
WHERE: Lvl 2/322 little Collins St, CBD
The elegant alternative for Melbourne gig-goers, The Palais has been around and accommodating artists for decades now after transforming from a premier art deco cinema from the ‘20s into spacious and sophisticated space boasting one of the largest seating capacities in the country at an advertised 2896 count. Expect to see some big gun tours coming through with recent visitors including Air, Peter Hook and Sia among others.
WHERE: Lower Esplanade Cnr Cavell Street St Kilda 3182
The Prince Bandroom prides itself on being one of St Kilda’s most popular live music venues for over six decades. The venue often lends itself to some of the world’s biggest dance acts including Passion Pit, Ricardo Villalobos, Yeasayer, Lamb, Calvin Harris, Fake Blood and Trentemoller.
WHERE: 29 Fitzroy Street St Kilda VIC 3182
‘Infamous’ is a fitting description of Revolver, a Melbourne institution that has seen many a late night turn into a very long morning. The Back Bar kicks along pretty much all weekend, with Revolver Sundays particularly renowned for its sessions that get going at 6:30am.
During the more ‘conventional’ night-life hours there’s a mix of bands and club shows in the front room, with something different to sample most nights. It’s the club that most Melbourne DJs would have a raft of stories about (some they’d probably prefer not to tell), and its history is dotted with notorious sets from a who’s who of dance music.
WHERE: 222 Chapel Street, Prahan
“Our room is your room” is the philosophy behind Room680, which has garnered a reputation around Melbourne as the chosen stomping ground for trance lovers.
Majik Entertainment makes use of the club for its Majik Saturdays nights, pushing some of the local trance scene’s biggest names alongside international stars like Paul Webster, Ferry Corsten and Gabriel & Dresden in 2011. For the students and weekender workers, there’s Juicebox Tuesdays. Room680 is a functional venue designed for dancing, and that’s exactly what you’ll be doing with the calibre of guests on show.
WHERE: 680 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, Melbourne
Like most of Melbourne’s best bars and clubs, Roxanne Parlour is difficult to find. But trust us, it’s worth it. This inner city venue, which can squeeze in 450 sweaty bodies on any given night, knows how to throw a party. Just ask recent acts Gui Boratto, D.I.M, Dam Funk, Henrik Schwarz and Chase & Status, who all dropped in over the last 12 months.
WHERE: Level 3 Coverlid Place Melbourne VIC 3000
The Royal Melbourne Hotel
Situated in one of Melbourne’s great legacy buildings, The Royal Melbourne Hotel transforms into a heaving dance venue each and every weekend offering swank surrounds and an ideal location that’s made it the go-to place for Future Entertainment’s The Likes Of You parties. Doubt its pedigree? Just ask RMH’s recent guests like James Holden, Claude Von Stroke and Hybrid.
WHERE: 629 Bourke Street Melbourne 3000
The irreverent name says it all about Sorry Grandma!, one of Melbourne’s most talked-about clubs. Split across two levels with a capacity for 700 people, its opulent but slightly unhinged décor was created by Michael Delaney of Honkytonks fame.
Given its size, the main room errs towards crowd-pleasing sounds, while in the intimate downstairs Parlour some of the city’s finest purveyors of wonky house and techno keep things buzzing till well after 8am. It’s a dressy and mixed crowd that fills Sorry Grandma!, so try to look smart when you roll up to the door.
WHERE: 590 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne
The Toff In Town
Melbourne locals have good reason to gloat about the diversity of after-dark options in their city and The Toff In Town is a strong case-in-point. Housed on the second floor of a historic building and committed to live music most nights of the week, The Toff understandably has a devoted following.
The Toff’s programme of ‘alternative’ music from all corners is particularly favourable to the electronic-inclined. You’ll find guests like DJ Harvey, Andrew Weatherall and Optimo gracing its stage, and you’ll find local man-about-town Andee Frost regularly using the nightclub space for his infamous parties.