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Dance card
Dance card
The love lounge
Another cool Melbourne bar

Melbourne bar secrets

Thursday, March 11, 2004
Jules has a deck of cards that holds the secret to where all the beautiful people hide in Melbourne after dark.

Everyone knows Melbourne is great for shopping and eating, but here is a slick new idea to let not only visitors but locals know where to go when the sun goes down.

Michelle Matthews, who wrote a series of Shopping Secrets books, has come up with a clever guide to partying in Melbourne. She has produced a neat, packaged deck of 52 cards profiling the city's best bars, taverns, clubs and pubs. She and her team did a lot of serious research to come up with the end result. The success of her idea says it all.

Michelle has found that people shuffle the cards, pull one out at random and that's where they go. There is a map on the back of the card, so finding your way around Melbourne and its "Little" streets is a breeze.

Getaway chose a few cards from the deck and came up with these.

The Kitten Club started when Tony Starr wanted a venue reminiscent of nightspots of the 1950s and '60s, where people could enjoy a meal, bar and live entertainment in the one venue.

Lunch is served each weekday and dinner every night. Cocktails, which Tony says are Melbourne's best, are served until late. Galaxy Space on the second level is where you can comfortably enjoy a live performance, while the Love Lounge, all plush and quilted pink and red, is for romance. There is a retail shop, Smitten Kitten, which specialises in lingerie.

Robot Sushi & Bar in Bligh Place serves simple food during the day, but in the evenings, the micro bar specialises in Asian beer and sake.

Andre Bishop has had an interest in things Japanese for many years and his low-key establishment shows Japanese anime films every Tuesday. Friends say the bar is an extension of Andre's own living room — neo-Tokyo style.

Alumbra, on the Yarra River at the gateway to Docklands, is the perfect escape from the city. The waterfront bar is like stepping into the pages of a magazine. It has been described as back alley Casablanca meets New York chic, all very sleek and contemporary with Moroccan-inspired features in an 1882 wharf shed.

The music program comes from around the world, with an impressive schedule of Melbourne's leading bands and DJs. On Thursdays between 8.30pm and 9.30pm there are Latin dance classes.

The Croft Institute is tucked away off Little Bourke Street. It was opened two years ago by four friends who wanted a bar with a difference. One of the partners is a scientist, hence the laboratory theme of the bar. It's described as Gattaca-meets-the-high-school-lab.

The three-level building has the science lab bar on the ground floor. The middle floor has a distillery where their own vodka is made, known as the Department of Alcohology. The lounge and toilets on that level are known as the Male and Female Departments of Hygiene.

The top floor has a 1940s US gymnasium theme. Its dance floor is a basketball court with grandstand seating and a bar with lawn growing on the benchtop.


Downtown Melbourne


Bar Secrets Melbourne costs $9.95. It can be purchased from bookshops and newsagencies.
Tony Starr's Kitten Club has no cover charge, but there are some charges for performances.
Robot Sushi and Bar has no cover charge.
Alumbra has a $10 cover charge after 9pm on Saturdays. Dance classes cost $15 after the first lesson, which is free.
The Croft Institute has a $5 cover charge after 10pm on Friday and Saturday.
Please note prices are valid at time of filming.

More information

Bar Secrets Melbourne: Ph: (03) 9329 9663

Tony Starr's Kitten Club
1/267 Little Collins Street
Melbourne 3000
Ph: (03) 9650 2448

Shed 6B near Polly Woodside
South Wharf Road, South Wharf
Southbank 3006
Ph: (03) 8606 4422

Robot Sushi & Bar
12 Bligh Place
Melbourne 3000
Ph: (03) 9620 3646

The Croft Institute
21-25 Croft Alley
Melbourne 3000
Ph: (03) 9671 4399

Qantas: 13 13 13

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