As the group of us walked past the red neon signs and strutted up the pyramid-style staircase, I knew I was not in for an average barhopping experience. Welcome to Electric Ladyland, where the drinks are sweet and the décor is swanky.
Located on Chapel Street, Melbourne’s glamour strip, I expected it to be insanely busy and anticipated a long wait. But to my happy surprise a cheerful bouncer (not something you see often) and a quick entrance greeted me.
Named after the famous Jimi Hendrix album of the same name, this bar echoes the rocker’s cool throughout the venue. When entering I was blown away by how spacious it was. I am used to Melbourne bars being hidden down alleyways or precariously placed upon rooftops, but this Chapel Street experience was something different.
What awaited me inside was a mix of pretty people and flirty drinks, all with a distinct Melbourne feel. The interior of Electric Ladyland may just be the best part of it (aside from the cocktails). The décor is a feast for the eyes, with the walls adorned with ’80s memorabilia and vintage photography creating a unique atmosphere for this classy, cool hangout. The opening room transports you to a world of luxury, with coffee-coloured couches and red chandeliers glittering above. The main room is where the bar takes on a life of its own with a myriad of red vinyl lounges and the central island bar, laden with glass bottles and good-looking bar staff. The bar does take up most of the space so there isn’t a lot of room for dancing, but this adds to the charm of the place. Limited dance floor territory actually creates the perfect environment for drinking and chatting, with a little bit of room to slip in the occasional dance move.
Despite all the trimmings, the best part of this bar is the drinks menu. Following on from their Jimi Hendrix theme, the cocktails list is inspired by the rock greats such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. I sampled an assortment of beverages that night (perhaps too many) but my standout favourite would have to be the one in honour of Nirvana appropriately named, ‘Smells Like Green Spirits’. The concoction of Agwa, kiwi vodka and pineapple, adorned with a flower and finished off with a sugared rim, made for one special drink.
The bar is open seven days a week but the atmosphere builds over the weekend. For a laid-back place to sit and sip, go there on a Thursday night for the start of Ladyland’s weekend vibe. Friday sees a more lively crowd with the DJ mixing house and disco, but Saturday is the main event with the bar setting up for the social elite to come down and party.
So whether you’re looking for a place to mingle quietly, start off your weekend, or go on an all-out Saturday night bender, dress up, bring cash and head off to Electric Ladyland.
Penny Evangelou is a final-year Bachelor of Journalism student who is passionate about food, fashion and beauty writing. She is also a member of the 2011 upstart editorial team.