One of Melbourne’s longest-running nightclubs, Lounge, will shut in April after almost 30 years of parties. The club’s tenancy agreement expires in January 2019, and an extension was rejected in favour of a bid from a large, unnamed Melbourne hospitality group. The venue is known for its first-floor balcony overlooking Swanston Street, and its 24-hour license, both of which have made it a hub for Melbourne’s dance-music communities.
When owner Carlo Colosimo opened Lounge in 1989, Melbourne was taking its first steps towards the 24-hour city it is today.
“When we first opened we were open for 24 hours for four days straight. We provided food through that period, which we thought was a great idea,” Colosimo tells Broadsheet. “It was the very beginning of people doing things at different times of the day, not everyone had breakfast at the same time of the day and we wanted to service that person.”
Colosimo also wanted to create a space where Melbourne’s creative communities could gather and exchange ideas.
“We had not intended for it to be a nightclub per se. We wanted it to be a ‘lounge’, where you could come in and have drinks, talk to people, [leading to] the creation of new ideas [via] the collision of many ideas,” Colosimo says. “But before you knew it we were putting music on and having DJs play – we just didn’t think [dance music] was going to be such a big component of it.”
As tastes changed the club hosted many forms of entertainment. In its early days there was performance art, film screenings, and burlesque and cabaret shows. A particular favourite of Colosimo’s was a performance by American poet, musician “godfather of rap” and author Gil Scott-Heron. In later years, the venue became a hub for Melbourne’s dance music scenes, from drum and bass to techno.
Since Lounge’s application for a new tenancy agreement was rejected, Colosimo has been looking at sites for a new venue. He’s in discussions with some parties, but is yet to finalise anything. He hopes to open a new venue around the time the Lounge closes in April.
Liam Alexander – who’s also a member of DJ combo 6am At The Garage – has been booking the Lounge for almost three years, after running Wednesday club night Midweek Shaka. Alexander – and before him Sleep D – has been instrumental in making Lounge one of Melbourne’s few underground-techno hubs.
Alexander’s favourite memory of the venue is the second birthday of his Saturday club night, Lucid – a 28-hour-straight dance party, at the end of which he played the LCD Soundsystem classic All My Friends.
“It was pretty amazing having a club full of your friends all dancing in varying forms of undress,” remembers Alexander.
But while it’s sad that time is running out for new Lounge memories to be made, Alexander won’t be going out with a whimper.
He’s currently in the process of organising the last run of programming, dubbed 29 Parties for 29 Years. Popular nights from decades past and present – such as Mania, Butter Sessions, Bunker and Technoir – will be resurrected for one-off parties, including a 29-hour-long edition of Lucid.
The full program for 29 Parties for 29 Years will be released by year’s end. Lounge will close at the end of April.