The best gay bars in Melbourne
You would think what with the fanfare surrounding Sydney's annual Mardi Gras festival that the harbour city was the clear ringleader of Australia's gay scene, but Melbourne certainly gives its sibling some decent rivalry. After you're all partied out (for tonight), tick off our five ways to show your pride in Melbourne, or up your 'extra-curricular' game by visiting our top five sex shops.
The best outdoor queer-friendly bars in Melbourne
Summer’s the perfect time for birds of a feather to preen themselves, particularly if you're already out and about getting your Midsumma fix. We've found four outdoor bars for al fresco drinking and perving. Looking to push on? Check out the best gay bars and karaoke spots in Melbourne.
Hares & Hyenas
Having been in operation for over 20 years, you’d expect Hares & Hyenas to be a well-oiled machine… but this humble-looking bookshop is more like a super power-packing transformer. Bookshelves stuffed with fiction, biographies, humour, photography, erotica, religion, gender, coming out, fanzines, health and educational tomes can be wheeled away so that the room is adapted into a venue with theatre seating, a stage, and a lighting and sound system. Whatever mode it’s in, there’s a fully licensed bar and café, and an exhibition lining the walls at all times. Hares & Hyenas is the project of Rowland Thomson and Crusader Hillis, who met at Melbourne University in 1975 and became partners a few years later. In the 1980s, Hillis owned an art-house video shop in Elwood, while Thomson co-owned Dizzy Spinners on Brunswick Street – an early incarnation of the current Polyester Records. In 1991 they joined forces to open Hares & Hyenas, which moved all over Melbourne before settling in Johnston Street’s Spanish quarter, where they’ve been made to feel welcome. “The changes in 20 years are fairly staggering,” notes Thomson. “People only used to come in wearing sunglasses.” It’s now become a hub for not only the queer community, but anyone interested in socialising in a literary setting. Hares & Hyenas plays host to two book groups, a stitch’n’bitch, ButchFemmeTrans, Rainbow Girls and Rainbow Guys, to name but a few regular meet-ups, and has put on 350 spoken word events. “We also did
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Blanc de Blanc
After sizzling hot runs in Sydney, London and Adelaide, Blanc de Blanc is finally making its way to Melbourne for a season of Champagne-fuelled cabaret. The evening of adults-only circus, dance, acrobatics and other antics will be heating up the Spiegeltent at Map 57, a brand new arts precinct in St Kilda. This winter cast of quirky performers – comedians, models, show girls, singers, contortionists and aerial artists – will turn the night into a mad romp that begins in a sophisticated Parisian cabaret venue and slowly transforms into a crazed nightclub party. Expect bubbles, burlesque, balloons, sequins and tops off, for a hands down good time. "If Baz Luhrmann made a nightclub it'd be like this" – Time Out Sydney Find out more about Blanc de Blanc.
At Alluvial Restaurant the past never feels far away. You’ll find the dining room located between Collins Street’s Rialto and Winfield buildings, both of which were built in the 1890s during the twilight years of Melbourne’s gold rush; the former is designed in Venetian neo-gothic style. Once a laneway, Alluvial Restaurant is now a soaring glass atrium, running all the way from Collins Street to Flinders Lane. Look up, and you’ll notice floors of five-star hotel rooms that once served as wool and wheat stores. Look down, and you might miss another of Alluvial Restaurant’s secrets: beneath the floorboards is the original bluestone cobbled laneway. While Alluvial Restaurant embraces its history, there is nothing passé about chef Tijn Bremmers’ menu, which takes inspiration from Melbourne’s many diverse cultures and brings them to life using local produce, fresh herbs from the hotel’s rooftop garden and honey harvested from their rooftop beehives. Start with finely sliced kingfish ceviche, topped with thin ribbons of cucumber and flanked by button-sized dollops of zingy lemon gel. Seafood lovers will also jump on the squid ink linguine – heirloom tomatoes and crayfish butter providing a rich sauce to the fat tiger prawns. Moreton Bay bugs come adorned with flavoursome crisp chicken skin, along with mild, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin ravioli. And those crunchy, smoked paprika fries with garlic aioli? Follow your instinct and order them. When it comes to choosing a wine from the 1
Lunch like Van Gogh at No35
Taking inspiration from the National Gallery of Victoria’s latest exhibition Van Gogh and the Seasons, this gastronomical adventure will see you getting creative with your lunch at Sofitel Melbourne on Collins' No35 restaurant. Sofitel’s executive chef John Savage has prepared a menu that is equal parts creative and delectable. On arrival you'll receive three tubes of edible 'paint' sauces. The amuse-bouche will transform into an artistic endeavour, in which you can make your very own edible work of art on housemade bread. To follow, you'll enjoy French dishes such as warm egg salad Lyonnaise; beef bourguignon with braised beef, potato purée, sautéed mushrooms and red wine sauce; followed by crème caramel with Cognac-soaked raisins. So whether you're a Van Gogh fan, a creative foodie or just looking for a sensory food adventure the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins has a lunch you'll want to try. Bookings are essential. Find out more about Lunch like Van Gogh at Sofitel on Collins' No35.
Here's what it's like to try opera for the first time
Opera is one of our most revered forms of culture. But with great reputation comes a high intimidation-factor. At Time Out, we’re lucky enough to have seen plenty of operas, so we know it’s not all valkyries in horned helmets and heavy breast armour. But we also know not everyone has been so lucky. Like Shakespeare, The Iliad and The Odyssey or Jane Austen, opera has worked itself so deeply into our pop-cultural imaginations that most of us can probably recognise Bizet’s ‘Habanera’ aria, or the twisty plotting of Cosi Fan Tutte without necessarily knowing where it came from. Given this sense of familiarity, we figured that for most people, seeing a famous opera for the first time will feel more like reconnecting with an old friend than meeting someone new. To test the theory, we gathered together four young creative types, with very different backgrounds, from three different cities, with one thing in common: they’d never been to the opera as an adult. We brought them all to Sydney for Opera Australia’s production of Puccini’s La Boheme and filmed the results. Melburnian Ali Barter may make grungy guitar pop now, but the Girlie Bits singer is also a classically trained soprano. As a kid, she’d actually appeared on stage in an opera, but she’d never seen one performed before. “I imagine I’m going to be blown away by their technical ability,” she told us before the show. True to her word, she came out impressed. “Just their breathing ability… it was incredible. Now I kn