Baby, when the lights go out, you just want to dance, right? It can be difficult to find a decent place to boogie, but here are some friendly reminders that you don’t need to hang up your dancing shoes when the clock strikes 12.
At this seamlessly transitioning music venue and club, one minute you’re swaying to a live band, then next thing you know the band is gone and you’re dancing to indie tunes with three new friends. Its double-level layout makes you feel like you’re in a Brooklyn club but the constant flow of Coopers on tap keeps your location in check.
Home to a plant store, art gallery, beer garden and bar, this basement space is about as close to dancing in the corner by the bookshelf at Supermild as you’ll get. A nameless alley grants entry to this cosy den of good times where you’ll be spilling beers over a dance circle in no time. Once the night wraps up, the exit kindly delivers patrons to Hindley Street next to Snag in a Bag.
A multicultural groove institution, Casablabla is where dancers flock to swing their hips to live tunes on weekends. For the culturally inquisitive, Latin night, with impromptu salsa dancing, wiggles its way through the venue on Wednesdays. If you need a break from the fiery Latino action, relax by the novelty-sized fish tank in the lounge area and enjoy some paella or tapas.
It’s not open every night, but when it is, the basement below Hindley Street’s Format Collective and Parsec cafe explodes with madness. Keep your eye on Facebook for updates on nights like KLUB 1323.2, a tongue-in-cheek evening of ’60s, ’70s and ’80s tunes inspired by radio station Cruise 1323. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more creative bunch of locals.
An oldie but a goodie, Sugar is the kind of place you go at about the time Cinderella’s coach turned into a pumpkin. DJs spin tunes all night for the wild ones, and your more reserved friends can try their hand at the pool tables. If you’re lucky, owner Driller Jet Armstrong might make an appearance on the decks. When all this fun makes your stomach rumble, new bar chef Takuma Yoneoka is on hand to whip up a Japanese okonomiyaki snack.
Pirie & Co.
Don’t be fooled by the casual bar crowd spilling out onto Pirie Street. Entry to the basement, which holds the key to your Travolta-esque body movements, can be found through the back car park. Live indie bands often grace the room, and there’s a DJ on stand-by every weekend to keep the crowd alive. The cocktails are decent, too. It’s conveniently located just a stone’s throw from East End bars and eateries.
Mary’s here and she doesn’t like to knit or drink tea. Unless it’s a Schlong Island Iced Tea and knitting is code for a drag-show performance. This eccentric new spot next to Apple Bar is a push against the trend of hip small bars. Cocktails are twists on once-cool classics like the Pina Colada and dancing is encouraged. Insisted on, even. You won’t find any Tiesto or Darude here, just sweet-like-candy ’80s pop hits to have you boppin’ into the wee hours.
Offering a breezy rooftop bar centred on a large palm, Rocket Bar’s thumping bathrooms (there’s music in there, too) are sign enough that this is the right place to dance until last call. Fridays boast Cats, an electronic and dance music night with $5 mixed-drink specials and red tins. Head upstairs and get fancy with a plum Pisco Sour or get wild on the dance floor to your favourite glittery tracks. Just remember: no requests, no regrets.
Bank Street Social
Hailed for its barrel-aged cocktails and pizza nights, this baby has become the cool older sister of the dancing scene. If you like to break it down but prefer a crowd clad in BNKR labels and matte lipstick, then you’re in luck. Pretty men with nice haircuts spin smooth electronic sounds for dancers to sway to while sipping gin martinis.
Located on the ground floor of Crippen Place, with Rocket Bar above and Electric Circus below, this is a tasty dance sandwich filling. Named for its rumoured previous owner “Mr Kim”, its lantern decorations and spice-laden drink offerings stay true to Kim’s Chinese heritage. A mammoth sound system and DJs have party people burning off those ginger-infused vodka sodas in no time.
Booking in-vogue acts like a seasoned pro, this smart young venue has set up camp in the basement that once housed the Cavern Club. With the folks behind the Royal Croquet Club and Little Miss group running the show, it’s easy to see why the space was quickly revived. Since there’s no specific genre for the venue, the diversity of live acts means there’s something for everyone. Jump on Moshtix to book your next night of swaying, moshing or booty shakin’.
For the young ones. If infused spirits, bespoke cocktails or hop-laden craft beers make your toes curl, fear not, the red-tin bar is alive and well. New basement-dweller Section 33 is catering to lovers of a simpler time. Owners Kyle Young and Steph Gibbs (from La Rambla) wanted to create a small bar space atypical of the saturated upscale market. Music is clubby/hip-hop focused to target the 18–25 crowd seeking a beer and a boogie.
Great cocktails and a small but pumping dance-floor make this a post-Gouger Street dinner hit. There's a courtyard for cooling down in, too. Just wait a little while before shaking a stomach full of pho.
Named after the club operator who famously murdered Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby offers a touch of Americana as a bar/restaurant/music venue. If swinging to live tunes with a boozy milkshake in hand sounds like your idea of fun, pop down the stairs at 89 King William Street. Saturdays are a hoot. Expect a mixture of funk and soul, boogie, disco and hip-hop. The delightful DJs Delta, Pero and Penfold dish out anything from James Brown to A Tribe Called Quest, with “a few guilty pleasures thrown in”.
DJ Paul Gurry
If you’re after a laugh as well as a dance, go anywhere DJ Paul Gurry is. He’s been round the traps for donkeys, and if you’ve seen him in action you’ll know he’s the purveyor of good times. Gurry doesn’t just man the decks, he jumps on them and pulls moves like a man possessed. This guy digs the music and his passion is infectious. Find him at events across town including the Union Hotel’s regular Friday night dance-off, Generation Pop. Expect pop and rock from the ’80s, ’90s and beyond.