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.

Related pages:
Best Late-Night Eats in Melbourne
Best Cocktail Bars in Melbourne

Angel Music Bar

Bar

Restaurateur Con Christopoulos is behind this audiophile spot, which serves bar snacks with a side of sub-bass. Things are pretty 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 and things get loose.

12 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Joey Smalls

Bar

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 Friday and Saturday, powered by funk, soul, house, hip-hop and disco. Take a break from dancing with burgers, fried chicken and decent cocktails.

284 Sydney Road, Brunswick

Monty’s

Bar

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.

209 St George's Road, Fitzroy North

Bar Romantica

Restaurant

The owners here – the same as at Monty’s – have deep links with local house and techno scene. Expect seasoned DJs every weekend, and a larger dedicated space for dancing until at least midnight. The venue's own pizzas make for an easy dinner.

52 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
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Section 8

Bar

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 such as Agent 86 spin here regularly. Come for hip-hop, funk, soul, reggae and more.

27-29 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

Ferdydurke

Bar

Another cracker from the Section 8 crew. This little loft bar is small, but it's always vibing to the sound of disco, house, funk and hip-hop.

Levels 1 and 2 31 Tattersalls Lane, Melbourne

Evie’s Disco Diner

Restaurant

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.

230 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
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Howler

Bar

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.

Enter via carpark 7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick

Cherry Bar

Bar

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.

68 Little Collins Street, Melbourne
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Dr Morse

Bar

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.

274 Johnston Street, Abbotsford

The Toff in Town

Bar

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.

Level 2, Curtin House 252 Swanston Street, Melbourne

Pawn & Co.

Bar

This two-level, curio-filled bar is a destination for commercial house – until 5am on Friday and Saturday, and 3am on Sunday.

177 Greville Street , Prahran
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Kewpie

Restaurant

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.

376 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Lucky Coq

Restaurant

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.

179 Chapel Street, Windsor
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Colour

Bar

Operating as a mid-week bandroom and weekend nightclub, Colour's Funktion-One soundsystem, 300-punter capacity and stacked program of house and techno DJs has made it a pillar of the local scene.

229 Queensberry Street, Carlton

Heartbreaker

Bar

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.

234A Russell Street, Melbourne
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The Carlton Club

Bar

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.

193 Bourke St, Melbourne

The Bridge Hotel

Restaurant

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.

642 Bridge Road, Richmond
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The Lame Duck

Bar

Hit this kitschy loft for mid-week karaoke, or weekend dancing to glitzy, commercial disco tunes.

Level 1 247 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy

The Workers Club

Bar

While this rowdy pub’s bandroom is mostly used for live music, DJs make regular appearances on the program.

51 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Glamorama

Bar

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.

393 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
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Stingrays Upstairs

Bar

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

Upstairs 245 Johnston Street, Abbotsford
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