NOTE: This article was made possible by Travellers Autobarn, who gave me a campervan to drive around Australia and review things. If you're considering a drive to the NT, go no further than Travellers Autobarn.
Okay so this is a misleading title. This isn’t a tour of Alice Springs’ worst nightclubs because Alice Springs has about three nightclubs, which makes it a tour of every single nightclub in all of Alice Springs—which also means that the word worst is interchangeable with the word best, because, like I said, there’s only three of them. So welcome to a tour of Alice Springs’ only nightclubs.
Thing is I’ve been doing a tour of all the worst nightclubs around the country and I wasn’t going to leave out Alice Springs just for a lack of options. No siree bob. The city has too many awesome nightclubs for that. Like if your thing is partying in Blundstones and zip-off cargo pants, you’ll love partying in Alice.
And these were the three nightclubs with highest/lowest/only scores:
- Bojangles Saloon & Restaurant
- The Rock
There was actually another place on my list called Montes, but when I got there it was all closed up and the staff were sitting in the courtyard, tenderly discussing hospo stuff. So I left them to it and started my night at:
Epilogue is up some stairs. Here’s what arriving at Epilogue looks like.
And then I got upstairs to find a freezing rooftop filled with people wearing beanies. And as I looked around I got this kind of Byron Bay vibe. It’s an unexpected twist to Alice’s social fabric—the way the town attracts so many refugees from the love generation. People who left capital cities to work on their art, or dry out, or to indulge their lust for big horizons. They’re all in Alice, working two days a week selling pumpkins from their cars. Making mosaics out of broken plates. Loving Facebook. Hating Instagram. Rolling cigs from American Spirit in the courtyard at Epilogue and wearing beanies made of felt.
And I know it sounds like I’m being judgy—and I am—but there’s also a lot to be said for big-hearted, non-pretentious partygoers. Like this guy. He played the best song to ever come out of Busta Rhymes’ and Mariah Carey’s short-lived collaboration: “Baby if You Give it to Me.” And then he gave me the sideways “V,” which I’ve been trying to introduce into my own life ever since, with fairly mixed results.
And this guy was a legend. We talked for ages about Pine Gap except I was only catching about every ninth word. But we kept at it, for hours.
And then it was time to go to…
Bojangles Saloon & Restaurant
Welcome to the Bo’s: the biggest party in a town of 25,000.
Bo’s is like how Disneyland would feel on a Saturday night if Bob Katter was in charge. Like it’s basically a very embellished and bullshit version of Outback Lyfe.
There were lots of mancave-esque signs at Bo’s. The kind of signs that said things like “I make beer disappear, what’s your superpower?” And there was this trail of upside-down leather boots (how did they get up there?????) on the ceiling. And everything was made from outback Australia’s favourite and apparently only building material—galvanised iron.
So I got some beers and got on the dancefloor and quickly… had a good time. Because unlike a lot of clubs, Bo’s caters to absolutely everyone. Looking around their Sovereign Hill-themed dance floor, I could see every clique and demographic on Earth all jammed together, thrashing it out to Shaggy’s “Boombastic,” which I reckon got played at least a trillion times. It was goddam heartwarming.
Also people at Bo’s didn’t give a fuck, in the best way possible. They all just danced like no one was watching and made out like no one was watching. And for me, coming from Melbourne—where nightclubs are just temples to the gods of self-consciousness—it was extremely refreshing.
The only division was between smokers and non-smokers. The smokers were given this floodlit patch of gulag out back, where they cheerfully got frostbite.
After Bo's I went nextdoor to the Rock. And just like the Rock, this place had a strong connection to Samoa, in ways I didn’t understand.
Look, I should have asked the bar staff whether it was Samoan Night, or in the very least why a bar in Alice Springs—which definitely has a far more Indigenous cultural overtone than a Samoan one—why they had so many Samoan flags, but I didn’t want to appear… racist? Is that racist? I didn’t know. So I didn’t ask anything. I just ordered a beer and stared at it.
Now let’s talk about Furphy for a moment. Because I’ve never seen a beer achieve such national ubiquity while tasting so average. Seriously. Furphy is flat and tasteless, but it’s kind of got this weird sexual aftertaste—like the pheromones from a corpse. And that used to be okay when it was cheap. Remember when Furphy came out and it was like $7 a pint and you were like, oh well, at least it’s cheap! Remember that? But then they somehow devoured the entire market of young men in pubs, and decided they could up the price. And so now Furphy costs $11, but continues to taste like it’s $7, and no one seems to care. No one seems to have noticed that Furphy is the goddamn Christopher Skase of the beer world except for me. I’ve noticed. I’ve fucking noticed, Furphy.
After I’d necked two Furphies I did some dancing with these legends, and then suddenly the lights came on and it was 2 AM. Again, a real journalist would have asked “why do all places close at 2 AM in Alice Springs?” but I didn’t. I just stood there blinking, realising it was now home time. And then I stumbled outside.
So what did I learn from my night of bad/great/only nighclubs in Alice Springs? Well I learned that partying in places without one-hour lines is amazing. And clubs that let anyone and everyone in and feed them highly affordable booze are amazing, even if both things contribute to creating puddles of vomit. Also that’s not mine. It's really not. It does look like bolognese though.
Anyway, you should spend a night visiting all the nightclubs in Alice Springs because, a) there's not many of them, b) they're all in the same spot and c) because they're a stupid amount of fun.
This article was made possible by Travellers Autobarn. Want a campervan? These guys know what's up in campervans