A lot of bars claim to have a “retro” feel to them, but usually only somewhat succeed. The Butterfly Club, however, not only does that, but makes you feel like you actually have gone back in time, or to another dimension. The very first time I came here, I was genuinely wowed. Both a bar and a cabaret theatre, it combines the chic bar look with the eccentricity of the oddball theatre world. I had never seen a place this like before, and I immediately loved it.
Located in a little, hidden alleyway in the city (so Melbourne!), you have to walk up some stairs to collect your tickets for the show. The counter has some small figurines lying around that warn you of the kookiness upstairs. You go up another floor to the bar area, which looks like an old cottage stuck in a time warp. It looks like a 1950s style cottage, but has heaps of pop culture memorabilia from over the years. There’s a portrait of Elvis Presley, a plastic version of basketball legend Michael Jordan on the wall, and a whole wall of Star Wars posters. There are knick knacks of pirate ships, kittens and stuffed toys everywhere as well, as if this bar doubles as a little kid’s bedroom. What makes it feel more bizarre are the 1950s-60s sounding jazz versions of songs from the 1980s and 1990s like ‘Ring My Bell’, ‘Mambo Number 5’, ‘Like A Virgin’ and more.
The bar itself has a variety of beers and spirits; I personally like the Hawthorn Pale Ale. The cocktail of the week is usually named after one of the shows playing that week. There are plenty of sofas to sit on, and it’s a great place to sit and chat with friends before the show. The cabarets that play here normally only go for a week, but it’s a case of quality over quantity (of days). Having been to a few shows here before, they are not necessarily shows that would appeal to a mainstream audience, but The Butterfly Club prides itself on this. The theatre is upstairs; it is a very small and intimate room with a tiny stage, so the view is great, even from the back. Being a theatre, it is not a place most young people would go to; most of the people here were in their 30s and up.
When you walk out of the little alley, both the venue and the show will be staying on your mind as you walk back into the streets of Melbourne. The Butterfly Club really does live in a world of its own, and you will definitely want to come back to escape to this strange and wonderful place.
Originally published here at barsandnightclubs.com.au on Sunday 6 September 2015