The Shady Lady

Make yourself at home at this dark but glittering dive bar on Johnston Street.
Leisha Kapor
Published on September 18, 2019


Taking a hard shift away from the minimalist aesthetic of so many Melbourne bars, The Shady Lady's decor is lush and fun, mirroring the kind of night you're bound to have inside. Tasseled lampshades, leather upholstery, NSFW artwork from local creatives, shimmering gold curtains and disco balls make this dive bar feel a little bit like your over-the-top great aunt's pool room. Plus there's a similarly decorated, astroturfed and blue-walled courtyard out the back.

If that all sounds a little bit trashy, it's because it is — in the best possible way. There's no space for pretentious attitudes at The Shady Lady, which serves up a pretty short and sweet drinks list including a few local beers in tinnies (including dive bar Mexican staple Tecate), a couple of wines by the glass, your usual selection of spirits and, the real hero, alcoholic slushies capped off with little umbrellas. There are also a few snacks, like $5 nachos, most of which can be done vegan if you say the word.

The LGBTQI+ friendly venue hosts a bunch of different events throughout the week, like YouTube karaoke, drink and draw nights, porno bingo and psychic aura readings. Get down early every second Saturday for Bacon Fat, a "greasy 'n' sleazy" rhythm and blues party, complete with gogo dancers from 11pm. The Shady Lady is open until 1am every night except Sunday, and most weekends there'll be someone on the decks spinning everything from 'I'm Coming Out' by Diana Ross, to the latest track from Lizzo. There's no strict genre at The Shady Lady, anything that fits with the 70s-inspired vibe — and you can shake your booty to — is on the cards.


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