Radio Bar is the intriguing Melbourne hotspot bringing drum and bass to the fore

Get the latest from Beat

Radio Bar is the intriguing Melbourne hotspot bringing drum and bass to the fore


Located within Melbourne’s cultural nucleus of Fitzroy, Radio Bar has forged itself a reputation away from the clutter of the traditional bars and pubs swarming the area.

This is in large part to their weekly Drum ‘n’ Bass Mondays night as well as their new community hub upstairs called The Menagerie.

The venue has attracted a loyal clientele, even in the bar-and-restaurant-crowded Fitzroy, with its low-key aesthetic, extensive list of gins and welcoming atmosphere.

“[Previously having] a bar in Gertrude St … Caryn and I came from no hospitality experience whatsoever, and we gave up fairly high-paid day jobs to take a bit of a plunge into the industry. We went for our dream and bought a bar.

“Our lack of experience is made up for with the fact that we haven’t been ‘round the block enough to get jaded. We’re still quite fresh and we’re still enjoying it. I think that reflects in our clientele: they feel very safe and familiar here.”

Radio’s Drum ‘n’ Bass Mondays – recently made a weekly event – shines a spotlight on local DJs and producers. The venue’s fortnightly Dubstep Night, similarly, aims to give some much-needed exposure to Australian dubstep artists.

“Everyone thinks of UK dubstep,” says Hamburger. “This is exploring what’s happening in Australian dubstep, which is quite diverse … People would be amazed with what is happening in dubstep in Australia right now.”

Radio Bar stands apart from most venues due to its widespread acceptance and fervour to foster up-and-coming artists – not only are DJs supported but so are their guests, with punters from all walks of life welcomed to the venue.

“It feels like we’re a bit of a family here,” he says. “We’re extraordinarily inclusive. We’ve got a lot of people from potentially marginalised communities, a lot of transgender people, a lot of alternative people. We also do a lot of diverse musical genres, and we try to showcase local DJs and producers and things like that.”

Radio Bar does a brisk trade in beer. Alongside a Mountain Goat pale ale, Radio patrons can enjoy the bar’s signature grapefruit sour, a cocktail comprised of Chase grapefruit gin, fresh grapefruit, lime, simple syrup and a vegan extract substituting for egg yolk.

Like any bar with its finger to the Fitzroy pulse, Radio keeps vegan diners in mind. The venue’s chef, himself an intermittent vegan, has created a stand-in for bacon out of smoked mushrooms and concocted a popular new dish of broccoli chips accompanied by a cashew-based vegan aioli.

“About half our menu is vegan,” says Thompson. “Obviously, it reflects the nature of the area. A lot of our regulars are very progressive. It’s a big part of being in Fitzroy.”

Popular with omnivorous patrons are Radio’s spiced lamb ribs and a Reuben sandwich with house-made pastrami and sauerkraut.

Meanwhile upcoming events at Radio Bar include a combined burlesque night and gin tasting, slated for February, as well as a raffle for a custom-built bicycle from Fitzroy’s Just Ride It bike shop.

“We’re doing a competition to win a bike from a local bike store. It’s [called] Just Ride It … They make bikes for racing car drivers and have put together a customised Radio bike for us to run as a competition,” Thompson says.

“We’re launching it on the 8th [of December],” Thompson explains. “It’s a simple process. Every $20 you spend at Radio, you get a raffle ticket.  And, a month later, we do a draw, basically.”

Their pop-up competitions are accompanied by the aforementioned upstairs community space called The Menagerie which caters for artists, both budding and experienced, to showcase their work.

The modulated space, which can provide for everything from visual art exhibitions to fashion displays with an ability to sell alcohol, has affirmed Radio Bar as a versatile venue.

An upcoming exhibit will feature local luminary Pol McMahon who documents the ebbs and flows of the Fitzroy neighbourhood through his paintings. Everything from the bizarre frontage of Bimbos to the quirky and colourful Rose Chong Costumiers are inventively depicted in his works.