Ranking the toilets at Melbourne dive bars, clubs and music venues from sketchy to sparkling
06.08.2020

Ranking the toilets at Melbourne dive bars, clubs and music venues from sketchy to sparkling

Words by Kate Streader

Remember pubs?

I never thought I’d miss lining up to use a bathroom where the toilet seat is broken and there’s no loo paper left, but 2020 has been a weird year. It’s been so long since I stepped foot in a dive bar that I’ve romanticised everything about them, decrepit dunnies included. So, in the spirit of daydreaming about drunken nights out at dingey pubs, I’ve ranked the loos from our nearest and dearest venues based on the distinct bathroom experiences they bring.

Before we begin, I’ve got two disclaimers. Firstly, there are several beloved spots missing from this list, purely because my trips to the ladies have been fuelled by too many pints and therefore, my memory is somewhere on the spectrum between ‘fuzzy’ and ‘non-existent’. And secondly, there’s a special place in my heart for every bar on this list and I wouldn’t change a damn thing about them. It all just adds to the charm, right?

The Tote

I take no issue with the loos outside the bandroom, but the main bathroom between the front bar and the smokers truly gives me anxiety. There are two factors at play here: the locks are all broken and the door is too far from the toilet to hold it closed while you are doing your business. Every trip to these toilets bears the risk of someone walking in on you with your pants around your ankles. That said, a kind stranger will usually take it upon themselves to guard the door with their life for you.

Yah Yah’s

Trying to get into these toilets while there is a line for the upstairs bandroom is a nightmare. It’s like wading through knee-deep water against a strong current. There is a good chance you will wet your pants before you manage to push your way through that line and reach the separate line for the actual bathroom. No, thank you.

The Workers Club

I have seen some impressively disgusting things in these toilets. I’m still haunted by flashbacks of an epic red wine vomit which, judging by the spray effect extending from the floor to midway up the wall, firehosed out of that poor sod’s mouth the second they opened the cubicle door. That image is permanently etched into my brain now.

The Penny Black

Dank. That’s it, that’s the whole Tweet.

Mercat

While Mercat may have done its dash, the legacy of its loos lives on. In what could only be described as a sweat dungeon, the walls were constantly wet with a god awful concoction of piss and perspiration.

Revolver Upstairs

I must confess, I have never been to Rev’s but the reputation of its facilities prevails it. To put it simply, Rev’s is known for having the longest lines in town (interpret that however you please).

The Grace Darling

Whether it’s your first time at The Grace Darling or your 200th, locating the toilets after a few pints is like journeying to Middle-earth. By the time you find your way back to the bar, you’ll probably need to go again.

The Retreat Hotel (Brunswick)

Some of the weirdest interactions of my life have happened in the bathroom at The Retreat. Not to mention, you’ll need luck, courage and perseverance to successfully reach the toilets when the dancefloor is pumping or there is a line for the bar.

Lounge

After finally making it to the front of the queue, sidestepping the clumps of wet toilet paper stuck to the ground on your merry way, you could expect to see a minimum of three people emerge from the cubicles at Lounge (RIP). A colleague said it best when she described the toilets here (and, just the entire venue, really) as: ‘A haven of filth’.

The 86

A friend once stacked it on the stairs to the toilets at The 86 and I think about it every time I drunkenly attempt that fateful climb. The fact that the stairs are positioned directly next to the stage where the drag shows happen also adds immense pressure to the situation.

The Old Bar

There’s something wholesome – dare I say, comforting – about The Old Bar’s humble restroom. Is it a little busted? Sure, but it isn’t trying to be anything it’s not and, for that, it has my utmost respect.

Hugs & Kisses

Some things in life will forever remain a mystery. Like, who decided to put a piano in the loos at Hugs & Kisses (RIP)?

The Corner

They’re clean and everything works – as far as pub toilets go, this is a unicorn.

Sircuit

You are GUARANTEED to make a new friend in the toilet line at Sircuit. Yeah, you’ll probably be waiting ten minutes for a vacant cubicle, but you’ll spend those ten minutes being complimented by passing strangers and having heart-to-hearts with the person in front of you.

Kent St

My hazy, Alice in Wonderland-like memories of these bathrooms suggests I’ve only ever used them after downing two jugs of Kent St’s sangria (which, I’ll add, is the best sangria in Melbourne). After climbing ten flights of stairs, you’ll reach a strange maze of graffiti, mirrors and doors which you’ll need to navigate in order to find a cubicle. I honestly couldn’t tell you whether there are two toilets or ten.

Howler

I have one word for Howler’s facilities: sleek. Extra points for the *moody* lighting which will make you look substantially better than you actually do.

The Espy

I can’t speak to the pre-reno state of the bathrooms here, but I can say that I took my non-Melburnian, RocKwiz-loving parents to the former home of their beloved music program when they last visited and my mum was so impressed by the bathrooms that she took a photo. On her DSLR camera, no less. An iPhone-quality shot simply could not capture the essence – nay, the mystique – of these golden thrones.

The Croxton

The toilets at The Croxton have a lot going for them. They are always clean, there is both ample lining up space and an adequate number of cubicles, the people in there are always lovely and the graffiti is weirdly inspirational. 10/10. That said, you will need to be strategic in timing your visit because if you’re planning to take a quick whiz right before a band hits the stage, you can guarantee the line will be out the door.

The Toff In Town

Immaculate and bougie as hell, this is what I imagine the bathrooms look like in Buckingham Palace. Okay, that’s probably overselling it, but as far as Melbourne pubs go, The Toff In Town definitely takes the crown for best loos.

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