The 17 Best Bars for Dancing in Melbourne

Forget about the week that was and cut some shapes on these tried and tested Melbourne dance floors.
Andrew Zuccala and Concrete Playground
Published on May 23, 2024

The 17 Best Bars for Dancing in Melbourne

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 — work, personal admin and trying to stay on top of your must-watch shows and films before someone spoils them for you — 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.

Nightclubs can be great for this, but there are times when you want something a little more chill. Thankfully, Melbourne's ever-changing bar scene has a roster of new and old venues offering up the goods for when you're ready to drop your bag off at the cloakroom and bust some moves. So, here's our list of the best Melbourne bars where you can shake off the working week and dance late into the night.

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Recommended reads:
The Best Bars in Melbourne
The Best Bars in Melbourne's CBD
The Best Pubs in Melbourne
The Best Wine Bars in Melbourne

  • 17
    Shady lady - one of the best bars for dancing in Melbourne

    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 queer-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 go-go dancers from 11pm.

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  • 16

    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. Sing your heart out to the funk, disco and soul jams spun by resident DJs, and maybe shake it out on a tabletop or two.

    Image: Jess Middleton

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  • 15
    pawn and co - one of the best melbourne bars for dancing

    With a booming five-year stint and loyal crowd of regulars under its belt, unique party place Pawn & Co shocked plenty when it announced it was getting turfed from its Chapel Street home — at the hands of developers, no less. But, as promised fiercely to its fans, the bar-pawn shop hybrid returned with a vengeance, moving to impressive digs around the corner.

    The current iteration is bigger and better than ever, with the original hidden bookshelf entrance now leading punters to a heftier two-level space, complete with cosy booths, a courtyard and three separate bars. The bar is great for dancing any night of the week, but is best on Friday and Saturday nights when the tunes keep playing until 5am.

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  • 14
    Yah Yahs - one of the best bars in Melbourne for dancing

    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 that’s open until 5am.

    The music at Yah Yahs could be best described as literally anything that will get you grooving. On Thursdays, expect a huge LGBTQIA+ party with drag queens all kinds of bangers. 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 line is perpetually long, but don’t be put off, as it does move quickly.

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  • 13

    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. One of the few bars open later is the nearby Spleen Bar, which doesn’t stop the music until 5am.

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  • 12

    If there’s anyone you can trust to put together a good party, it’s probably the well-known electro duo Peking Duk. In 2018, 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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  • 11
    Joey Smalls - one of the best Melbourne bars for dancing

    A little older (and somewhat wiser) than its rowdy CBD sibling bars New Guernica and Chuckle Park, Joey Smalls is set up for relaxing summer days in the cosy courtyard and snug winter nights in a booth. But it’s not totally chill. Nor is only a sip and snack Melbourne bar.

    Throughout the week, the Brunswick haunt hosts an excellent roster of DJs that’ll mostly play a range of soul, funk, house or hip-hop. These tunes are more about vibes throughout the week, but on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the bar is open for late-night dancing and drinking up until 1am.

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  • 10
    Section 8 - one of the best Melbourne bars for dancing

    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 are 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. The bar is open until 1am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and is located right across from Bar Ampere, one of the best bars in Melbourne. This spot is open until 3am every night, so be sure to stop by for a nightcap before heading home.

    Image: Leilani Bale

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  • 9
    Misfits Footscray bar - one of the best melbourne bars for dancing

    At the end of 2023 we sadly bade farewell to Baby Snakes, one of the best wine bars in Melbourne. But just as soon as the team packed up, a trio of Melbourne hospo veterans stepped in to create Misfits in its wake. Where Baby Snake edged towards dive bar, Misfits is considerably sleeker and more put-together — but is still home to great long nights of drinking and dancing.

    Stop by early to check out a new art exhibition and sip on some damn good cocktails, and then stick around for late-night DJ sessions. The team doesn’t serve food, but those wanting a feed are free to get pizzas delivered from the downstairs Slice Shop Pizza.

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  • 8
    Live music scene at Cherry Bar, Melbourne.

    After having called AC/DC Lane home for twenty years, in 2019, legendary rock haunt Cherry Bar was forced to close up shop. But grit and determination saw the iconic venue live on at Little Collins Street.

    Having played host to everyone from Lady Gaga to the Arctic Monkeys and King Gizzard, Cherry Bar has long held a special place in the hearts of those in Melbourne who love to rock out, and amassed an army of die-hard fans over its lifetime. And even with the move, it is still one of the best bars in the Melbourne for dancing late into the night.

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  • 7
    Whitehart - one of the best bars for dancing in melbourne

    When the 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 enjoy 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.

    Image: Duncographic

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  • 6
    Lucky Coq - one of the best south melbourne bars for dancing

    After a late-night bar for dancing southside? Duck into the cheap and cheerful Lucky Coq for an equally as cheap and cheerful pizza. With dim lighting, electronic tunes and kitsch furniture, it’s a pleasant venue to stop and recharge the batteries by hoeing into some greasy tucker.

    While the pizzas do increase in price from their dirt cheap $5 price tag earlier in the evening, it’s still the best place in Prahran for a vegetarian, meaty or seafood pizza right up until 3am.

    Image: Leah Hulst

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  • 5
    The Albion - best Melbourne bars dancing

    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 (Latino nights) and Saturday nights (run by the old Alumbra club crew) until 5am.

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  • 4
    Kewpie - one of the best Melbourne bars for dancing

    In the space once home to student haunt Bimbo, Australian Venue Co (Fargo and CoState of GraceMorris House) launched Kewpie back in 2021 — a laidback neighbourhood boozer with cheap pizza and a weekly roster of DJ-fuelled party sessions.

    Aesthetically, little has changed since the pub’s last makeover, with low booths spread across the spacious ground-floor rooms, colourful posters across the walls, and a sunny bar and terrace offering prime position on the rooftop. Those after a boogie can expect to find a mix of house, disco, funk and soul music each night of the week.

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  • 3
    Workers Arms Melbourne - one of the best bars for live music and djs in Melbourne

    The Workers Club is a classic Northside pub in front and a rollicking music party out the back, with a band room that’s been known to jump with live gigs most nights of the week.

    The pub was formerly the iconic Rob Roy Hotel, and while the interior has had a makeover, the exterior retains its old-time charm. This one’s long been a champion of emerging Aussie acts, especially those of the rock, punk and hip-hop persuasion, and has played host to Australia-wide tours and more intimate local EP launches alike. Check out the upcoming gigs before heading down or just rock up and hope for the best.

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  • 2
    Toff in Town Melbourne bar for dancing and live music

    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 Stage Side and restaurant The Carriage — are open five nights a week, from 5pm all the way through to 5am.

    Stage Side 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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  • 1
    The Bridge Hotel - one of the best Richmond bars for dancing

    One of Richmond’s many drinking institutions, the Bridge Hotel brings the outside in with a unique design and a great atmosphere. Split in two by a 50-metre-long cobblestone path, it’s a traditional Victorian pub combined with individual spaces themed as the types of bars and venues you might find in a typical CBD laneway.

    There are five areas plus an additional loft space that becomes a booming dance floor on busy nights of the week. Expect commercial house music and sing-along pop most Friday and Saturday nights.

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Top images: Whitehart by Duncographic

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