Words by Alex Watts
Photography supplied by Lounge
Since opening its doors in 1989 Lounge has been central to the Melbourne club scene, creating a space for the emerging styles of dance music at the time. Having undergone a major rebranding in the last two years the venue finds itself once again at the forefront of Melbourne’s electronic music culture.
“The club and musical landscape of the CBD was a very different animal than what it is today,” says Lounge’s marketing and promotions coordinator Jure Kodre.
“Back then – particularly in the city – you had only a handful of go-to places so when it (Lounge) opened it was very current — it was the IT place to go.”
Having made its name with such events as Club Filter – which, from 1992-2003 was the longest running techno night in Australia – hosting live performances by Gilles Peterson, Public Enemy and even Jeff Buckley, the venue struggled to maintain relevance in a market increasingly flooded with competition. This is something that Kodre and co. have been working towards changing through not only marketing but also a dedication towards presenting progressive and high-quality music.
“I guess the whole point is trying to get the venue to be part of something that isn’t just selling drinks over the bar and party music. We really want to be at the forefront, supporting (the scene), driving it, leading the way in the Melbourne musical climate — in that clubbing concept,” states Kodre.
“It needed a fresh life injection, (but) now the offers are coming in rather than the reverse, so that’s been really good.
“Wednesdays is a rotating night of different crews steeped in the beats/house/disco genre; Thursdays is a future-soul/beats night which fuses elements of jazz, hip-hop and funk. Friday is straight up hip-hop, r&b, rap, trap, twerk…designed for a Friday night audience in the city so we try and target the cooler end of the commercial crowd,” specifies Kodre.
“Saturdays is our baby and what we like to represent the venue as — we’ve got Sleep D on board — really strong young producers cultivating a new emerging house and techno scene both locally and internationally.
“We’ve built a big team around Saturdays and the programming reflects that. The idea of getting Sleep D in was to solidify Saturdays and give them a home — try and create a weekly resident night that’s based on quality music; not having to rely on promoters or having to sacrifice musical integrity to appease a broader market.
“The style of music that they do they stand behind and it’s growing and yielding results. There’s a real umbrella sort of culture growing around the Saturday nights and kids are into that and it’s a weekly, which takes a lot of work, but it’s growing.”
Besides establishing these nights as go-to’s for the various musical scenes, Lounge are open to embracing new talent and ideas that would work within the framework they have built. “It’s really about finding a niche and doing something that other venues aren’t doing,” confirms Kodre.
“We’re always looking for new DJs, promoters, artists who want to get involved. There were a couple of guys that hit up Sleep D about Saturdays. It was all very informal over Facebook — I think they attached a mixtape; it was very much in line with what they do. Now they’re playing (on Saturdays) — one of the guys played last week so there is opportunity for that kind of stuff.”
Located upstairs from Lounge is the streaming audio/visual station TRNSMT which focuses on Melbourne’s beat culture as well as putting on events around the city. “They’re (TRNSMT) always looking for new presenters who can commit to a fortnightly, monthly or weekly schedule so that’s also another avenue for artists to get a foothold in the scene…we often have special guests play here and also do a TRNSMT set upstairs.”
Looking forward Kodre enthuses over the idea of Lounge staging events outside of its walls — possibly curating festival stages.
“We’ve done Melbourne Music Week a couple of years in a row; we did Laneway party last year which was great. It’d be nice to get involved with the Melbourne International Jazz Festival somehow if possible, things like that; trying to think outside the square. It’s always good to be ambitious I guess as long as it’s within our grasp.”
Keep up to date with Lounge’s events here