Best Bars for Dancing in Melbourne

Updated 1 month ago

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Nightclubs are kind of all-or-nothing. Either you’re standing at the bar being jostled, or you’re on the dance floor getting into it. And having a decent conversation? Forget it.

Bars are a little more flexible – when you need it, there’s room to take a break from dancing, or have that long-overdue D’n‘M with your best mate. Plus, the drinks are almost guaranteed to be better, whether you’re drinking beer from an actual glass, or sipping on a well-made Negroni.

  • This audiophile spot serves bar snacks with a side of sub-bass. Things are fun and loud downstairs, with great drinks and a few bar stools to enjoy them on. But it's on the upstairs dancefloor where the volume really turns up.

  • Her's first-floor bar is dedicated to vinyl, premium spirits and sparkling wines. Inspired by Japanese and European record bars, it's where you'll hear DJ-curated soundtracks nightly, from the 3000-strong vinyl collection.

  • This comfortable spot from the founders of New Guernica isn’t quite a nightclub or a bar. It’s something in between, with a slow-building dance floor that runs late on weekends, powered by funk, soul, house, hip-hop and disco. Take a break from dancing with burgers, fried chicken and decent cocktails.

  • There's no DJ booth, just some decks facing the wall. It works, though – most weekends you can find an enthusiastic dance floor here, moving until late to contemporary house and techno. Take a breather in the leafy backyard.

  • Not only is this outdoor shipping-container bar one of Melbourne's most iconic and enduring drinking destinations – it's also been one of the city's most reliable places for a boogie since 2006. Veteran DJs spin here regularly, favouring hip-hop, funk, soul, reggae and more.

  • True to its name, this ’80s-referencing, queer-friendly, vegan-leaning American diner packs a nightclub-quality soundsystem and a mezzanine DJ booth. Drag trivia and bingo are held regularly here, alongside glitzy techno and pop parties.

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  • Located in a modernised wool warehouse with striking angular architecture and an excellent soundsystem, Howler is one of Melbourne's most unique bandrooms. The music program is incredibly diverse, covering jazz, hardcore punk, indie rock and more, but DJs make regular appearances.

  • Boogie beneath the disco ball at this snug, ’70s-style den upstairs at Bodriggy Brewing Co. It’s a trifecta of fluorescent cocktails, lively South American snacks and “high-end Australiana” vibes.

  • This dimly-lit dive bar is one of Melbourne's most treasured and iconic rock’n’roll venues. Though it's moved out of its original ACDC Lane location, it's rocking just as hard as ever, with live music multiple nights a week. Expect anything from psych-rock to doom metal, sometimes followed by a DJ to close.

  • This popular beer garden and eatery from the team behind the Rochester Castle and Bodriggy Brewing Co is rarely quiet. But when the weather's good, Sunday afternoon is when things get proper rowdy, with DJs set up outside.

  • With its central location and flexible drinks list that's as cheap or fancy as you need, this longstanding venue attracts all types – dressed-down students, suited office workers and everyone in between. But on the dark, reliable dance floor, they're all just people having a great time.

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  • From the genuine vintage pistols to the cabinets full of movie memorabilia, everything’s for sale at this two-level, curio-filled bar. It’s also a destination for commercial house music – head down on Pawn Saturdays and you’ll see what we mean.

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  • The pub formerly known as Bimbo Deluxe has a new name, but the winning formula has not changed: cheap pizzas, low lights and DJs spinning house, disco, funk and soul.

  • Kewpie's sister venue (in spirit if no longer in ownership) pushes all the same buttons. Head upstairs to the small-ish courtyard for house, disco, funk and soul, and an enthusiastic d-floor.

  • At this good-times cocktail bar from the owners of the Everleigh and Bar Margaux, the "DJ" is a jukebox loaded with close to 100 rock albums from 1968 to 1980. And it never fails to draw a crowd.

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  • Spread over three levels, including a tropical rooftop bar, the Carlton Club is always a solid choice for a drink. And with DJs on two of those levels on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s also a solid choice for a boogie.

  • This labyrinthine pub – with a convincing replica of cobbled street running right through it – is reliably packed on weekends. Find your way upstairs for commercial house and pop and a fairly intimate dance floor.

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  • Hit this kitschy loft for mid-week karaoke, or weekend dancing to glitzy, commercial disco tunes. Be prepared for impromptu group singalongs to Phil Collins’s In the Air Tonight.

  • This rowdy pub’s bandroom is mostly used for live music, but it’s not uncommon to see a solid DJ (or two) grace the bill. No matter what your vibe is, The Workers is top spot to sweat it out before spilling out onto Brunswick Street.

  • Along with Colour, Glamorama is the most nightclub-like spot on this list, with the hardest music to match. Relentless European techno is the likeliest thing you’ll hear booming from the thunderous soundsystem, but house and more melodic forms of electronic music are also possibilities.

  • The crown jewel of the King and Godfree complex. A visit here comes with Italian-beach-club energy, amazing city views, Italian fare and summer-ready drinks. It’s all tied together by a soundtrack of Italo disco tunes.

  • This west-side bar champions art and music, in the former home of Baby Snakes. The vibey spot – run by three friends – has DJs on rotation, fun cocktails and a party-ready dancefloor.