Best nightclubs in Melbourne
Revolver, better known as Revs, will take you in on a Friday evening and treat you to a bit of soul-tinged deep house and then spit you out onto Chapel Street Sunday morning, ears still ringing with throbbing techno. The long-time running Saturday The Late Show has hosted international DJs and producers Pearson Sound, Maurice Fulton, Flava D, Loefah, Pinch, Auntie Flo along with local with weekly residents.
You often hear about ‘the cage’, which sounds terrifying but in reality it’s a booth that hosts local and international dance DJs in a dining room. This dining room is transformed into a delicious Thai restaurant during the more reasonable hours of the day. But you do question what these are once you're in Revs.
When beloved Melbourne club Lounge closed in 2018, it sent tear-streaked eyeliner running and club kids scurrying to find a new space for an all-night boogie. Lounge had operated on the site for 29 continuous years, which is longer than many of its patrons had been alive. But hospitality veteran Maz Salt came to the rescue, taking over the Swanston Street site and giving it new life as Radar. Salt, of course, has a string of good-time hits under his belt, such as Ferdydurke, the B.East and Section 8. Radar focuses on catering to the dance music community, with a Function-One rig blasting until 6am on weekends. The club is also committed to supporting Melbourne's live music scene, so there are also occasional live shows. It’s kind of like Lounge, but Radar has its own personality. Reapply that eyeliner.
Music is front and centre here, with a collection of records pumping out of Funktion One speakers specifically installed to fill the room. DJs play the likes of John Coltrane, Susan Wong, Esther Phillips and Ute Lemper with scatterings of David Bowie downstairs, or you can head upstairs to the 80-room black box venue and party to events put on by Animals Dancing, Crown Ruler, Cool Room and Pelvis. It’s super dark in the room, with a singular light that projects onto a disco ball that casts an eclipse shadow above the DJ booth. And we're not kidding about the speakers – those Funktion Ones really pack a punch.
This Collingwood bluestone stalwart is known for its revolving roster of bands and live acts, but it also hosts a range of club nights. Downstairs Gaso is a summertime haven, particularly when the retractable roof is open and everyone is dancing with a Spritz in hand. Upstairs, a smaller space that has a two-tier beer garden attached is a much more intimate space, offering music of all sorts.
Sub Club is a basement nightclub in little-known laneway Flinders Court, and its programming is as underground as its location. The club is carved out of the old ANZ bank vault, which gives it that Tresor vibe. Line-ups reflect forward-thinking curators and subcultures, so no one is left out here. You can expect to hear loads of bass, techno and left-field electro transmitting out of a 10,000-watt sound system. And most importantly, staff insist on a ‘no dickheads’ policy here and ensure it’s a safe space for punters to feel comfortable.
Pony wasn’t just a nightclub. It was the nightclub. The last port of call. The boozy dance pit from hell. The one-word explanation for showing up to brunch in someone else’s pants, shirt, shoes. Et cetera. Our livers celebrated when that sticky, musical boozatorium closed, but our feet were forlorn. There just aren’t enough places to dance in this town. And so the fact that the Cookie/Revolver/Toff in Town crew resurrected the old girl, replete with 7am weekend bedtime and a nightly DJ and live music agenda, is really good news. There are a few residencies here, including fresh local crews Acid Slice, Mythology, Dancing Therapy, New Kids and Rogue Cuts.
Geddes Ballroom presents a blend of live music and DJs, smack bang in the middle of the CBD. The venue itself is a three-tier 170-year-old bluestone building and, this place has some interesting decor. It feels sleazy but in a good way: red draping curtains, poles and a catwalk – yes, this place used to a strip club. There’s a night here to please us all, offering gigs of jazz, hop-hop, trap, electronica, punk, salsa, cabaret and the odd drag show. There have been parties with Haitus Kaiyote, 30/70 Collective and Uncomfortable Science. And the whole building went off when Jungle Pussy played for the Hybrid Festival.
The vibe is electric in this darkly red-lit boudoir of a band venue and it's not hard to fathom why. The Night Cat has become a bit of a Fitzroy institution, with live jazz, funk and reggae among its diverse line-up. Entry is usually free unless time is money and you can't afford to wait in the queue that snakes down Johnston St. It's worth it once you're inside, though, with a stage slap bang in the centre, so you can see your favourite jazz band from every angle.
Curtin House is frankly ridiculous, brimming over as it is with a host of outstanding bars and club spaces. The Toff in Town is one of the swankiest joints in the building. Climb the stairs and you'll find a private booth bar to the left and the excellent band space to the right. This cosy little red curtained room has hosted a wealth of talent, both home and from far away. It's a decadent haunt, and one that reeks of character in an already vibrant Melbourne scene. Get right up and sweaty at the foot of the stage or sit back and sample their menu of delicious eats and the extensive range of drinks on offer.