Great Melbourne Venues #3: The Club

An innocuous door on Collingwood's Smith Street opened up into a joint fitted out for rock'n'roll

Compared to its murky cousins south of the river, the Club in Collingwood was a venue which gleamed with a kind of shiny prestige in its early days.

Its location is now a hole in the ground awaiting apartment development, but it closed long ago in any case, and was for some years afterwards a second-hand emporium.

In its '80s prime it was still an easy place to miss for the uninitiated. A modest narrow and blank frontage on Smith Street, with doors for both the downstairs band room and upstairs bar. As a windowless space set deep in from the bustle of the street, the Club was like a micro-version of the Palace; the stage was high and there was always a decent vantage point. There were no archways, dividing walls, pillars or the like. It wasn’t a hotel or a heritage room. It was fitted out for rock’n’roll … and more besides.

Acts as diverse as Sam and (the second) Dave, Jonathan Richman and Harry Dean Stanton played there. The stage was just big enough for TISM to do their thing and the room was an early haunt of groups like Hunters & Collectors and the Go-Betweens whose late 1984 show was the greatest 90 minutes of live music this writer has ever witnessed.

Run for many years by ex-Skyhook Bob Starkie, the upstairs bar of the venue buzzed in the mid-'80s with local music celebs competing in mullet-offs. Later it was colonised by rave DJs who entertained upstairs, while downstairs the lustre and quality of acts diminished over the years until the place gave up the ghost on the cusp of the new millennium. Sadly, since its demise, there has never quite been a place of the right size and the right quality for the right gigs. Sorely missed.

First published on . Updated on .

By Michael Witheford   |  

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