God, I love dancing. My friends will tell you I’m always the first one on the dance floor (no buzz required) and, if old school hip-hop is playing, then also the last to leave it.
As Scoop’s Food & Wine Editor, I’m often asked for recommendations of great places to go dancing by people who’ve outgrown the likes of Metro, Tiger Lils and the Paramount. Whipped cream-topped shooters and cans of VB won’t cut it. Nor will crap food, ear-ringing music or toilet stalls filled with vomiting first-year uni students having their hair held back by their equally wasted mates.
Around the world, clubs catering to an older crowd are gaining popularity. You must be over 30 to enter Norway’s Brenneriet Nattklubb, and 25 at Stockholm’s most popular nightclub, Cafe Opera. In Toronto, ageism meets sexism: popular club Muzik turns away men under 25 and women under 21.
In Australia, it’s illegal to discriminate because of age, which in this case I think is a shame. An 18-year-old’s idea of a great night out dancing is pretty different from a 38-year-old’s.
So where are Perth’s best bars for the older crew looking for a classy night out? To be honest, I wasn’t sure. So I rounded up my most gorgeous, footloose, thirty-something gal pals and devised a genius plan. We’d hit five venues in one night – places with handcrafted cocktails, great food and amazing dancing. Narrowing it down to five was no easy task but, after careful research, the night’s itinerary was decided: Purl Bar, Lost Society, Luxe Bar, Malt Supper Club and Connections. We’d critique their food, drinks, staff, music and clientele. We’d dance our hearts out. We’d prove dancing in Perth is not for the young and wasted alone. It’s for the older and wasted, too.
Classy and chic, Purl Bar makes for an excellent first stop on a night of club-hopping. It’s kitted out with a swanky art deco bar, gilded wallpaper, plush sofas and the city’s most gorgeous bartenders. There’s no better place to grab some dinner and drinks while watching the dance floor heat up, before jumping in yourself.
Go for | The food Clientele | Saturday nights attract a late twenties to mid-thirties crowd. Guys wear button-up shirts and jackets and stand by the bar, while in booths, groups of girls in sequined party dresses sip espresso martinis. The potential is palpable.
Music | Expect chilled-out remixes of top-40 music before the dance floor opens. When it does (at 9:30pm), the beat ramps up. In terms of volume, it’s just right for a bar, but too loud for
a meal. Plan accordingly!
Food and Drinks | Purl’s Espresso Martini, Old Fashioned and the Mai Tai are incredible. Highlights on the menu include the slightly spicy duck tacos, and the pork belly sliders in their charred, coleslaw-stuffed buns. The chocolate and coffee pavé is heavenly.
Only gripe | The queue begins pretty early (around 9pm), and the music tends to be a bit muffled because of all the bass.
Open on Saturdays till | 1am
Address | 75 Rokeby Road, Subiaco
Driver, roll up the partition please
Hailing a taxi between bars or at the end of the night is a pain – especially with sore, danced-out feet! For our group, hiring a limo meant not worrying about traffic, parking or choosing a designated driver. The friendly folks at family-owned business So Cal Limos made us feel like VIPs. Our black stretch Mercedes Benz offered more than enough room to stash back-up shoes, makeup and – of course – extra bubbles. Gary, our driver, didn’t even judge when we played the Notorious B.I.G. on repeat. perthcitylimos.com.au.
On Friday nights, Lost Society is one of the hottest places in town – it’s packed with a stylish, older, corporate crowd looking to blow off work-week steam with urban beats and great cocktails. The same music pumps on Saturday nights, but the crowd is a bit younger.
Go for | The music Clientele | Saturday nights attract people in their mid-twenties. The girls are dressed in tight dresses and mega heels, while the beer-sipping guys are decked out in hipster threads. They hover around the DJ booth, peer down from the balcony and make eyes at each other across the packed room. You can practically smell the pheromones.
Music | Lost Society is famous for its incredibly danceable old school hip-hop music, think OPP, Push it and Jay-Z circa 1990.
Food and Drinks | Lost Society has some knock-out cocktails like the sweet ‘Turn down for what…ermelon’ cocktail, and the Tanqueray and blood orange ‘Sexual Healing’. The fried finger food on the menu should be for emergency hunger only.
Only gripe | Going to Lost Society means relinquishing any attachment to personal space. It’s officially everybody else’s.
Open on Saturdays till | 2am
Address | 918 Hay Street, Perth
Club survival guide
Standing in the queue is a major buzz kill. Get to know the door staff at your regular nightspots and call the venue prior to the night to get on the door list.
- You don’t want to spend the night in a drinks queue either. Save time (and enamour your bartender) by either ordering the same cocktail for everyone in your group, or sticking to the quick drinks: wine, bubbles or beer.
- Reserve a private area with dedicated staff for your group, which means no waiting in queues, losing friends or unwanted dance partners.
- Take care of your feet. Wear comfy shoes during the day and remember that at night Party Feet are your friends.
- Nicked belongings and spiked drinks and are far too common these days. Always keep your valuables and drinkables in view!
Best post-boogie feed
In need of something to soak up the night’s libations? In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Northbridge is where to head to be fed.
- Darlings Supper Club 47 Lake Street, Northbridge
Open till 3am
Eat The incredibly delicious Hong Kong XO Pork Noodles or the Lime, Lychee and Coconut Trifle.
- UandI Cafe 24hr Pho Corner Francis and William streets, Northbridge
Open till Round the clock
Eat Pho is almost the national dish of Vietnam and for good reason. That is, if you can stomach more liquid…
- The Moon Cafe 323 William Street, Northbridge
Open till 3:30am
Eat The food isn’t amazing, but the dessert pizzas attract legions of fans.
This venue has it all: great music, decor, drinks and staff. Most nights are busy at Malt, but Saturdays are pumping, with live music in the front and DJ-spun tunes in the back. For a bit of privacy you can hire one of the plush private rooms in between and upstairs. You’ll be within earshot of the music and have your own dedicated waitstaff. Not bad.
Go for | The private partying
Clientele | A great mix of glamorous people between the ages of 25 and 40 years old who are done up to the nines. By midnight, everyone is in a party mood and there is a queue of VIPs, so get there early. You’ve been warned.
Music | The music at Malt is bouncy and upbeat. It’s the kind of music you could easily sing along to, but with enough beat that even the most unco of dancers can manage to follow along.
Food and Drinks | Everything is delicious here – The Avalanche and The Ciao Bella cocktails are phenomenal, as are the arancini balls and haloumi spring rolls.
Only gripe | Be ready to mingle. This applies to most bars late on a Saturday night, but the male clientele at Malt can get very friendly.
Open on Saturdays till | 3am
Address | 677 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
This swanky lounge bar is famous for its cocktails, gay-friendly vibe and rocking Sunday sessions. Saturday nights are super chilled out, making it a top choice for a cosy date or a kick-off venue to fuel up before hitting the clubs. Ask for head bottle slinger Sacha, if you want to drink especially well.
Go for | The drinks
Clientele | It’s impossible to be overdressed at Luxe. Saturday nights see the women (between 25 and 35 years old) in party dresses and strappy sandals and the men (35-45 years old) in suits and polished shoes.
Music | “Vocal house music” is how the folks at Luxe describe their Saturday night tunes. Dancing to it is tricky, but it’s ace background music and easy to talk over.
Food and Drinks | Luxe may be famous for its espresso martinis, but there are other brill drinks on the menu, like the creamy-citrusy St Bruni Biscotti, lychee-flavoured Dimple Mug, and refreshing Mint and Cucumber Martini.
Only gripe | It’s a long wait for drinks, especially if everyone in your group wants something different. Quality requires patience.
Open on Saturdays till | 2am
Address | 446 Beaufort Street, Mt Lawley
Connections may have started as a gay venue, but it’s since become a favourite Perth nightclub for people of any sexual persuasion. It’s not a place to expect amazing food or drinks, but somewhere to lose yourself in the music and the eclectic crowds. The fabulous outdoor terrace upstairs has one of the best views in town.
Go for | The crowd
Clientele | The mix of people is so diverse that absolutely anyone and everyone – regardless of age, gender or sexuality – belongs. On any given night, you’ll see men in drag, groups of women in their fifties and couples in their twenties, along with everyone in between.
Music | Upstairs you’ll find sexy background beats, while on the dance floor downstairs is faster, strobe-lit dance music.
Food and Drinks | Don’t expect amazing drinks at Connections – the topless male bartenders crank them out to keep up with demand, not win prizes.
Only gripe | The strobe lighting on the main floor is a bit full-on at the end of an equally full-on night. Luckily there’s the more chilled-out Terrace to retreat to.
Open on Saturdays till | 5am
Address | 81 James Street, Northbridge
Practise your moves
Get your fancy footwork up to par with these dance sessions around Perth.
- The Mustang Bar gets a south-of-the-border makeover for its Tuesday salsa groove sessions, all experiences welcomed. Northbridge.
- With great beer and free entry, what’s not to love about this Swing N’ Soul Sundays at The Belgian Beer Cafe? CBD.
- SOHO Bar and Kitchen makes room for SOHOP Swing, where the dance floor is full retro-loving dancers showing off their best moves. Fremantle.