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The Best Melbourne Bars for a Weekend Boogie

Forget about the week that was and cut some shapes on these tried and tested Melbourne dance floors.
By Leisha Kapor
September 18, 2019
By Leisha Kapor
September 18, 2019


Forget about the week that was and cut some shapes on these tried and tested Melbourne dance floors.

The old nine-to-five routine can be a bit of a grind — between work, personal admin and trying to stay on top of your Netflix shows before someone spoils them for you, it certainly takes a toll. That's why, when the weekend comes around, sometimes the only solution is to shake it off and leave your troubles behind while you dominate the dance floor.

Thankfully Melbourne's ever changing bar scene has a roster of venues offering up the goods for when you're ready to drop your bag off at the cloak room and bust some moves. So here's list of the freshest Melbourne bars and clubs — peppered with some never-fail institutions — where you can shake off the working week with a big boog.

  • 13

    Radar has arrived this year to fill the Lounge-shaped hole in the CBD’s nightclub lineup. After a quick refresh, Radar opened up in July in the same Swanston Street space Lounge bar occupied for almost 30 years. An eclectic mix of hip hop, techno, funk and jazz pumps through the bar during seasonal club nights and ticketed gigs — including Wednesday’s Connecting Service, Thirst-days, and a bunch of other collabs with Melbourne’s best and loudest. All this served with cocktails until 6am on Friday and Saturday nights. Good for those nights when you want to keep cutting shapes until the sun comes up.

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  • 12

    The retro dive bar aesthetic of The Lame Duck will put a smile on your face and get those toes tapping. Neon lights, wooden panelling, palm trees and a vintage purple pool table make for the perfect backdrop to a night of disco dancing while the Cher shrine and a Billy Bass wall mount watch on. The 4am license ensures you’ll be letting your hair down well into the wee hours, and a photo booth will capture all your best — and not-so best — angles. It doesn’t matter. Sing your heart out to all the best funk, disco and soul jams spun by resident DJs and maybe shake it out on a table top or two. The Lame Duck also has cheap snacks ($3 hotdogs on Sundays!) and often extends its happy hour all night, so you can get belt out a Madonna hit while sipping on a daggy retro cocktail.

    Image: Jess Middleton.

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  • 11

    Party any night of the week at Brunswick Street institution Bimbo, which returned from a year-long forced hiatus in May of this year. In the revamped space, alongside the usual $4 pizzas offered at select periods, Bimbo has DJs on four nights a week — Thursday’s Glow Up kicks things off from 7pm, knock off drinks and tunes are on from 5pm on Fridays, house DJs settle in at the House of Bimbo on Saturday nights, and the weekend is finished up with Queer Deluxe Sundays, an inclusive session from Poof Doof. Be prepared for a decent wait to get in the door, but the others waiting in line will tell you it’s worth it.

    Image: Kate Shanasy.

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  • 10

    Beloved by many city dwellers and bartenders as a spot to unwind with late-night pizza, pool and a beer, Heartbreaker turns off the jukebox on weekends and brings in a rock ‘n’ roll DJ to spin all your favourite tracks. The bar staff at this American-style dive bar are pumping out a killer list of American and local craft beers, plus pre-batched cocktails bottled by sister venue The Eveleigh. Classic rock, metal and punk tracks are best enjoyed with a negroni, martini, manhattan or old fashioned in hand. In-house kitchen Connie’s Pizza serves slices and pies from an internal window until just before you get booted out at 3am.

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  • 9

    If there’s anyone you can trust to put together a good party, it’s probably well-known electro duo Peking Duk. Last year, Adam Hyde and Reuben Styles teamed up with a couple of hospitality heroes to launch Talk To Me in the South Yarra space that used to be home to Less Than Zero. The focus here is good food and drinks, and late-night partying. Both the fit-out and the food menu are inspired by the team’s favourite spots in New York and Asia, while the cocktails are there to get you in the mood for a boogie. You know the disco DJs are going to be up to scratch, so come prepared to dance all night.

    Image: Patrick Party.

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  • 8

    If you’ve ever found yourself itching for a boogie while on Smith Street, you’ve probably followed the hordes looking for salvation and been taken in by the angels at Yah Yahs. It’s a near-iconic northside dance floor and has free entry before 11pm (and $10 thereafter). The music at Yah Yahs could be best described as literally anything that will get you grooving. On Fridays, the DJs play indie mashups and on Saturdays they play all your guilty pleasures. Hello, ‘Friday’ by Rebecca Black — it’s been a while. Pro tip: the lines are long but don’t be put off as they move quickly.

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  • 7

    Wander down Tattersalls Lane for a quintessential Melbourne experience at car park bar Section 8. Slinging drinks from the converted container bar since 2006, the team here knows how to throw a party. Beats and vibes provided by a rotating cast of emerging Melbourne hip hop groups, DJs and producers, so pull up a milk crate, crack a tinny and get ready to get down.

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  • 6
    The Shady Lady

    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. We’re talking tasseled lampshades, leather upholstery, NSFW artwork from local creatives, shimmering gold curtains and disco balls. If that all sounds a little bit trashy, it’s because it is — in the best possible way. 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.

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  • 5

    When two-storey container bar Whitehart first popped up in a CBD car park in 2017, it wasn’t immediately obvious that it would become the site of some intense late-night dance offs. But with resident DJs and regular collaborations with local producers and party makers, Whitehart has welcomed many sweaty revellers enjoying the welcome breeze provided by the bar’s openair format. In between songs, feast on food from +39 Pizzeria and the street art and projections around the joint. For a refresh, there’s an ever-changing selection of weird and wonderful local craft beers, killer cocktails and Aussie wines, including a fair few skin contact varieties.

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  • 4

    The historic three-level Albion Hotel has had quite the dramatic past — in 2016, it burned down just ten days before it was due to reopen. But nowadays, after a successful relaunch in 2018, the only thing burning up is the dance floor. Said dance floor is located on the pub’s rooftop — which is one of Melbourne’s biggest, by the way — and it comes alight on Fridays and Saturday nights, and Sunday afternoons from 2pm. If you get there early on Friday (that is, before 7pm) you can prepare with $10 espresso martinis and $15 cheese boards before kicking on to R&B and house music up until 5am the next morning. It’s rowdy, but that’s part of the fun.

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  • 3

    There’s nothing like hitting the dance floor while an up-and-coming local band takes the stage. Inclusive rock ‘n’ roll dive bar Globe Alley provides this in spades, with free live music four nights a week. The sibling venue of northside favourite B.East, Globe Alley promises stacked burgers and plenty of vegan options to keep you going until late. The musical focus covers everything from 70s Aussie rock to 80s New York punk and 90s hip hop — basically, anything guaranteed to make you bop your head and have a good time.

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  • 2
    Boney - CLOSED

    If you’re ever in the CBD in the wee hours of the morning looking for a place to have one last dance, you don’t even have to check if Boney is open — it almost always is. The Little Collins Street venue keeps the tunes going until after the sun comes up and you can get the train home on Fridays and Saturdays (read: 7am). Free club nights run Wednesday through Saturday, and ticketed gigs run most nights, too — they’re usually pretty cheap though at $10–20. Head in after work on a Friday to catch some free comedy and $8 pints, wines and spritzes until 8pm.

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  • 1
    The Toff In Town

    The Toff in Town is a two-part venue offering a bit of something for everyone — if you’re not afraid of some stairs, that is. Located on the second floor of the CBD’s Curtin House, The Toff is a well-known staple in the life of a midweek partier. Both sides of the venue — the live music bar Stageside and restaurant The Carriage — are open seven nights a week, from 5pm all the way through to 5am. Stageside has a range of events including live music, comedy, cabaret and a range of DJs to keep you entertained. Plus, free entry on Fridays means you can party on a budget, or spend your saved cash on some Thai-inspired snacks at The Carriage next door —it’s worth it.

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Top image: Bimbo by Kate Shanasy.

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