Crystal Ballroom (Melbourne)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Coordinates: 37°51′33.8″S 144°58′38.5″E / 37.859389°S 144.977361°E / -37.859389; 144.977361

Seaview Hotel, home of the Crystal Ballroom

The Crystal Ballroom (also known as The Ballroom and Seaview Ballroom) was a music venue located within the Seaview Hotel on Fitzroy Street in the inner Melbourne suburb of St Kilda. It has often been referred to as the centerpiece of Melbourne's post-punk movement.

The venue was run by a succession of Melbourne alternative music promoters from 1978 to 1987, starting with Dolores San Miguel (who also ran gigs at other prominent Melbourne music venues, including the Esplanade Hotel), and later by Laurie Richards, founder of the Tiger Lounge in Richmond and the Jump Club in Fitzroy. Nigel Rennard, owner of Missing Link Records, was the venue's final owner. The Crystal Ballroom derives its name from the venue's ornate ballroom and chandeliers, dating from the 1880s.


Dolores San Miguel took charge of the venue from its previous occupants in August 1978. The first band to play there was JAB, who relocated from Adelaide. On 2 September 1978, San Miguel took control of the Ballroom and opened it up as the "Wintergarden Room".[1] The first gig in the Seaview Ballroom was headlined by The Birthday Party, featuring Nick Cave, Mick Harvey and Rowland S. Howard. The Ballroom ran every Saturday night until it was taken over by Laurie Richards in February 1979. Richards renamed the venue the "Crystal Ballroom" and operated it under that name until 10 January 1981, although San Miguel returned in April 1980 to run weeknight gigs in what she christened the "Paradise Lounge" on the ground floor. Melbourne's Little Band Scene flourished here in 1980. After Laurie left, San Miguel co-ran the Crystal Ballroom, which was re-named the Seaview Ballroom, with Nigel Rennard until a falling out in September 1981, whereby San Miguel vacated her position. Rennard ran it until the end of 1983. Dolores returned as the venue's owner in 1984. She ran it until 1986 before the hotel was closed for business in 1987.

The Crystal Ballroom was a staging ground for major Melbourne bands such as The Birthday Party, The Moodists, Crime and the City Solution, and Hunters and Collectors, as well as visiting Sydney bands INXS, The Laughing Clowns, and Brisbane's The Go-Betweens. International bands who played there include Simple Minds, The Cure, Magazine, The Members, XTC, The Residents, Snakefinger, PiL, The Gun Club, Iggy Pop, The Fall and Dead Kennedys.


The venue, and its association with a host of local and international music acts, has been documented in a wide range of media. Noted Australian culture critic Clinton Walker devoted much of his first book, Inner City Sound (1981), to the Ballroom, and in his fourth book Stranded: The Secret History of Australian Independent Music 1977-1991 (1996), he revisits the time and place in greater detail. In 2011, San Miguel published a book titled The Ballroom: The Melbourne Punk & Post Punk Scene.[2] The Crystal Ballroom and its role in Melbourne music is reflected upon by various interview guests on the Dogs In Space bonus DVD documentary We're Living on Dog Food, directed by Richard Lowenstein.[3]


  1. ^ Roberts, Jo (16 February 2005). "Bringing back the Ballroom blitz", The Age. Retrieved 14 January 2013.
  2. ^ Mangan, John (23 October 2011). "Ballroom blitz", The Age. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  3. ^ Wilson, Jake (20 August 2009). "We're Living on Dog Food", The Age. Retrieved 13 January 2013.


(1) Inner City Sound - Post Punk Online Music Archive dedicated to the Clinton Walker book of the same name (Birthday Party Live Recording at the Crystal Ballroom)
(2) I Got Drunk at the Crystal Ballroom - Facebook Group!/group.php?gid=131484480063
(3) Birthday Party Song list from Crystal Ballroom 1981
(4) The Cure - 1980 Tour advertisement with Crystal Ballroom
(5) Inner City Sound - Book By Clinton Walker
(6) Were Living On Dog Food - Documentary Film by Richard Lowenstein
(7) 'Never Say Die' (Story in The Age Newspaper on Australian Punk Movement)
(8) Concerts of The Boys Next Door
(9) Howard Arkley Exhibition at the NGV - Punk, Primitive and Beyond
(10) Melbourne Weekly cover story by Debbie Kruger on Nice Cave, Post-Punk St.Kilda and The Crystal Ballroom
(11) ABC Radio National 'Hindsight' Program: "Do That Dance! Australian Post Punk, 1977-1983" - Broadcast 18 July 2010
(12) IMDB - Internet Movie Database synopsis of 'We're livin' on Dog Food' documentary which mentions the Crystal Ballroom -
(13) San Miguel, Dolores. The Ballroom - The Melbourne Punk and Post-Punk Scene. Melbourne: Melbourne Books, 2011. ISBN 978-1-877096-41-9
(14) The Ballroom: The Melbourne Punk & Post Punk Scene - Facebook Page