Geddes Lane Ballroom business partners Shannon Bennett and Lorenz Grollo. Photo credit: Jason Edwards Herald Sun
Based in a 170-year-old building in King Street (that formally housed Showgirls Bar 20 strip club) in the Melbourne CBD, Geddes Lane Ballroom will be a 400+ capacity live music venue with future plans for the site including a takeover of the lane itself with food vans, projections, street art and rotating pop-up events.
In a time when many live music venues are closing their doors, the team behind Geddes Lane Ballroom - Shannon Bennett and Lorenz Grollo - are excited to celebrate all things music and the vibrant Melbourne laneway culture.
While the venue was home to Showgirls Bar 20 from the early '90s, the two decades before then it was the site of The Grainstore Tavern, a beloved local institution dripping with musical history.
It was here that John Farnham's 'Whispering Jack' album was launched (the 'Chain Reaction' video filmed), with thousands of artists including Tina Arena, INXS, Daryl Braithwaite and the Little River Band performing on that same stage over the years.
The makeover of Geddes Lane Ballroom is part of the King Street Revival project. "Our in-house team are completing cosmetic and compliance works only," Grollo Group CEO Lorenz Grollo explains.
"But for the removal of some 'choice' objects and elements from its former use, we're deliberately embracing the wonderful bones of this 1850s Melbourne icon; after all, how many live music venues can claim to be 170-years-old and once a notorious strip club?!"
When it comes to food and drinks menu, punters will be delighted. "We'll be presenting great food that has a social conscious, is sustainable and good for you, and it'll be fast food," Shannon Bennett enthuses.
"And think retro drinks like Japanese slippers that were in fact invented in Melbourne, seriously tasty local beers, local produce, our Benny burger will be huge feature and we are designing our own vending food machines offering salad bowls, Lui bar sausage rolls and heaps more."
Geddes Lane Ballroom will be booked by Ben Thompson and Ashlea O'Loughlin (The Venue Collective, 170 Russell, East Brunswick Club). "We're excited to be bringing live music back to one of Melbourne's most popular venues throughout the '80s and '90s," Ben says.
"It's been a hidden gem, centrally located, close to trains and trams and a big carpark with a fantastic tried-and-tested band room. We're doing some acoustic treatments, putting in a world class PA and cleaning the place up. Live music fans will love it.
"With the loss of so many live music venues over the last ten years including quality smaller rooms like Ding Dong Lounge and Shebeen, there aren't many options out there. People need the option to come into the city and experience original live music. The venue will be open to all conceivable genres of music from local, national and international acts and we have some surprise shows planned for summer."
The calendar is now open for bookings, with the bandroom set to officially open to the public over the coming months.