Best nightclubs in Melbourne
You can go in to hear some soul-tinged deep house on a Friday night and not emerge until Sunday evening, having worked your way through explosive house and thudding techno.
Best for: Dancing past the point of no return.
On any given night at this Collingwood bluestone stalwart, punters of all ages, genders and sexualities are sinking $6 pints of Vale Lager at happy hour by the roaring fireplace, smashing beer burgers and parmas or veg, vegan or gluten-free meals, and standing shoulder-to-shoulder watching gigs on the mezzanine level of the 350-person bandroom. All of this is thanks to a new direction that the Gaso took several years ago, when publicans Shan Vanderwert (formerly from Coburg’s Post Office Hotel) and Clint Fisher (Brunswick’s the Retreat) stepped in and saved the venue from closure. Their mission: to create a warm, welcoming environment that would reflect Melbourne’s incredibly diverse music scene, and the people who make up that ecosystem. It’s a philosophy that you feel the moment the doors to this grand old corner pub swing open. Pull up a plush swivel chair at the bar or sink into a couch (take note of the cute nanna lamps and ’70s vintage planters on the brick walls) and put yourself in the hands of the friendly staff. On the walls are posters and blackboards advertising upcoming events; you could spend an evening eating free pies (meat or veg options) while watching women’s AFL, listening to local and international bands, or sweating your glitter make-up off at a raging queer electro dance party like Outpost or Daydreams. Band bookers Alex Gleeson and Emily Ulman work alongside Katie Pearson who heads up LISTEN (a taskforce addressing sexual harassment and gender parit
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 last year, 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 has resurrected the old girl, replete with 7am weekend bedtime and a nightly DJ and live music agenda is really good news. Swaying, stomping and twerking to everything from disco jams on Fridays to Andras Fox to house is back on the cards. Only this time, so is dinner. Yep, owners Camillo and Daniel Ippoliti are attempting a dual utilisation of the downstairs space with a very-much-meant-to-be-taken-seriously restaurant doing lunch, dinner and take-away. It’s a bit of a mind bender. Stuff has gone down here that would make George Michael shudder and Boney parties just as hard and late as Pony ever did. Rock up at 4am on a Friday and you’ll find a sweaty crowd marching towards dawn to house beats and pouring Carlton Draught on their oblivious neighbours. It even looks the same. Aside from a new DJ booth and less sticky floors in the band room, and the addition of some sparkly cushioned stools and tables, it’s the same stone-lined space, bathed in red light. (Not that any Pony fan can remember the former décor – horse statue? Some weird bed thing?) But here
Geddes Lounge has a retro feel and three separate levels each one catering to different function needs. Come have a drink and a dance or even host your own parties. All in Geddes Lane.
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 raggae 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.
Melbourne's best party nights
Last year DJ Andrew McClelland (that’s Mr McClelland to you) and his finishing school were forced to abandon ship when their usual haunt, Bella Union Bar, closed in October. Luckily for party-inclined Melburnians the monthly party night landed on its (dancing) feet with a regular spot at Collingwood hotspot the Gasometer Hotel. If you’re intimidated by the doof doof of club party nights, Finishing School is for you. McClelland spends all night spinning the best of pop from last year’s greatest hits to the songs your mum listened to as a teen. It’s fun like your primary school disco, but actually cool.
The details: 9pm. $10. Third Friday of each month.
Funk never went out of fashion at Soul-A-Go-Go, and once you’ve been to one of the venue’s monthly party nights you’ll see why. Organised by community radio stalwarts PBS106.7, Soul-A-Go-Go is the biggest regular night of funk and soul music in Australia. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows what a 45 is and dancing is more shake your hips than bang your head. As well as featuring Vince Peach, the DJ for PBS Soul Time program, Soul-A-Go-GO regularly features live acts to get you in the old-school mood. If your perfect night out features dancing and good vibes then Soul-A-Go-Go should be your go to for getting down.
The details: $40-$45. First Saturday of each month.
Kick off your weekend with PnB Fridays at Laundry Bar. The Fitzroy club is the place to go for rap and hip hop in Melbourne, with PnB (that’s, ahem, party n bullshit) Fridays regularly packing out the house. Every Friday you can expect straight rap and hip hop playing across two levels. Got some dollars to burn? High rollers can nab their own booth and even a drinks package if that’s what they need.
The details: 9pm. Every Friday.
Fans of themed parties assemble! There is a magical place you can visit every week that is always up for a bit of themed fun. Supersmall Club is on every Friday and Saturday at Good Things in South Yarra. Nostalgia is what the club does best: previous parties have featured The OC, Britney Spears and Spice Girls themes. It’s the sort of place you can shamelessly scream your lungs to ‘Wonderwall’ while drinking hilariously named themed shots.
The details: 8pm-3am. Free until 10pm. Every Friday and Saturday.
House music is great and serves its purpose well (that is, giving inebriated people something to move to). But if you’d rather head somewhere that sounds like the ‘70s, then make a beeline for Burn City Disco at Brown Alley. The first Friday of each month is the club’s dedicated disco night with live new wave disco DJs setting up grooves all evening. You’ll need to shell out some moolah to get in, but for eight hours of disco bliss (it runs till 6am) it’s well worth it.
The details: 10pm-6am. $20-$40. First Friday of each month.
Calling all LGBTQIA party people: the 86 bar on Smith Street is where you need to be every Thursday night. The dancefloor at this all-inclusive and wheelchair accessible party is heaving with disco and pop bangers from 9pm, and local drag and performance artists take to the stage at 10.30pm, 11.30pm and 12.30am. With $5 tequila shots all night and $10 cocktails before 10pm, there’s no better place to party with your fellow queers.
The details: Thu 8pm-3am. $5 after 9pm. Every Thursday.