A guide to all the biggest and most popular night clubs in the Gold Coast's Surfers Paradise nightlife hotspot.
If you're a young adult making the trek interstate to the Gold Coast, whether it be for a weekend or a longer getaway, odds are you and your buddies are going to find yourself dolling up and preparing to head out for a "night on the town" in one of the huge array of Surfers Paradise nightclubs that dot the area - and have simultaneously been one of its biggest attractions and most controversial topics over the years. While many clubs have come and gone over the years, there is still a staple core that have formed the foundation of many reliable nights out of alcohol--and-dancing-fuelled entertainment.
Concentrated mainly around the nightlife hub streets of both Cavill and Orchid Avenues, many of the clubs are in close proximity to one another, making navigation from one to the next a breeze.
But with such a huge array of night clubs on the Gold Coast on offer, how is the first-timer supposed to make the best choice for a memorable night's experience with them and their friends? We aim to break down and answer all the offerings of each venue - including their music, atmosphere, pricing, and general target demographics - to help making the choice of where to spend your hard-earned cash for the night hopefully a little bit easier.
Thus, we present to you, in alphabetical order, our Surfers Paradise nightclubs guide:
The Avenue, situated on the corner of Cavill and Orchid avenues, differs from many of the other nightclubs in Surfers Paradise in that it aims to cater slightly more towards the older market. A long-standing establishment that has been a part of the Surfers Paradise entertainment district since the early 80's, The Avenue provides a focus more on a dining and bar-type atmosphere in the early afternoons before transforming into a fully-fledged nightclub in the evenings. Live music is frequently offered which contributes to the more laid-back, "bar" theme, and the venue has multiple large screens spread throughout with sports events and other entertainment streaming.
In terms of demographics, The Avenue tends to draw a fair crowd of tradesmen in the early afternoons who use it as a reliable drinking venue, while after the shift to night time the music shifts to a more typical DJ-powered dance focus. The club's interior itself is not a huge venue, meaning conditions can often become quite cramped, especially on crowded Friday and Saturday nights; the dance floor space is fairly limited and getting access to the bar to place a drink order can sometimes be a chore. Benefits include the fact that they seldom ask for a cover charge for entry, and that the place generally has a far "less aggressive" atmosphere than many of the other nightclubs in the surrounding area. Address: 4 Orchid Ave, Surfers Paradise, QLD, Australia 4217 Recommended For: Live music, slightly older demographic, lack of cover charge, more laid back atmosphere
The Bourbon Bar
Another long-standing Surfers Paradise nightlife venue, The Bourbon Bar has always strived to have more of a focus on the "soulful" side of nights out, with a heavy emphasis on R&B culture with decor and atmosphere that provides subtle and not-so-subtle hints of New Orleans style. Acting as more of a bar-style environment than a full-on nightclub, The Bourbon Bar is frequented by DJs and musical guests who fit in with the culture of roots in the soul genre, and is more conducive to conversation and socialisation than many of the other Gold Coast night clubs.
Facilities are also provided to play a game of pool or billiards, or simply spend the night dancing depending on your temperament. The venue itself, which is located "down below" street level draws a mixed crowd, which makes summing up an average evening spent there difficult; one night may be uneventfully fun, yet another the crowd can be quite rough, especially when a large group of intoxicated "party cruises are brought along to the venue on their routine pub crawls. Also, as with most other Surfers Paradise nightclubs, a nominal cover charge of either five or ten dollars is also usually a prerequisite. Address: 2 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD, 4217 Recommended For: R&B and soul fans, those looking for more of a "bar" than a "dance club" atmosphere.
Cocktails and Dreams
A heavy focus on dance and trendiness has always been a staple of Cocktails & Dreams over the years, with continuous rotations of DJs, lighting displays, and all the other mainstays that comprise a true "dance" venue in every sense of the word. Spread out over the course of two levels, Cocktails and Dreams usually contains a diverse crowd of club-goers, with the top level being the more laid-back of the two and offering pool tables, additional seating and bar access that tends to not be too restrictive. The bottom floor is "trendiness" incarnate; whether you enjoy this crowd will be entirely dependent on your personality as hardcore dance, tight & expensive clothing and a strong focus on the fine art of "picking up" are the themes of the day, almost without exception.
Those looking for a laid-back night out would thus mostly be advised to stay away. The club has been kept up to date over the years in terms of interior design and decor, with plenty of lounges, couches and booths available to take a load off in, as well as multiple large bars that can help make queuing for drinks less painful than several other venues. The club caters heavily towards the university student market, and offers special nights on Thursdays that can only be accessed by presenting a student ID card. A standard cover charge for entry applies, although it is quite easy to obtain a free entry card from the many promotional staff and tourist information kiosks that are dotted throughout Surfers Paradise. Address: 1/3 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD, 4217 Recommended For:Dance music fans, young singles, university students
One of the newest nightclub venues on the Surfers Paradise scene, Elsewhere has been aiming to fill a niche lacking in the Gold Coast nightlife community by providing an emphasis on more of an "artistic" experience rather than attempting to channel the raw, purely hedonistic attitudes many of the other venues strive for (and succeed with). The design is intended as a testament to disco, glamour, the vintage and similar themes along this vein - obviously, whether or not you will enjoy this type of night out is entirely dependent on your purpose and personality.
Along the same lines, the music played at Elsewhere deviates from the standard dance/Top 40/RnB formula that can be experienced at the majority of other clubs - disco, funk, and other laid-back themes are the order of the day. In short, what you get out of Elsewhere will depend entirely on your intent: If you're looking for a "night out with the boys" of picking up and strutting your stuff, there are plenty of other better alternatives. If you're looking to simply chill out with friends in an "artsy" atmosphere - that, fairly enough, may be labelled "pretentious" - then Elsewhere is definitely worth a look. Address: 1/23 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD, 4217 Recommended For: Non-dance fans, arthouse theme aficionados
One of only a couple of bar/clubs on the Surfers Paradise scene that caters towards the gay and lesbian demographics, the relatively new Escape nightclub has become renowned for its friendly staff both at the bar and on the door. One of the more "safe" venues for a night out, there are frequent themed events that are held from week to week and the venue itself consists of a spacious outdoor deck with DJs that play from Tuesdays to Sundays.
The nightclub can be accessed from multiple entrance points - the stairs in Hanlan Street, The Esplanade as well as Cavill Avenue. Obviously, as this venue is targeted towards a specific niche of visitor, general club-goers of straight orientation will likely end up somewhere else. The club has a license to run all night and operates until early morning, with an official closing time of 5:00am. Address: Level 1, 2 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD, 4217 Recommended For: Club-goers of same-sex orientation
Melbas on the Park
This longstanding club on the entrance point of the main nightlife thoroughfare of Surfers Paradise, Cavill Avenue, Melbas is one of the largest and most popular evening entertainment venues in the district. Operating as a restaurant/bar during the day with a fairly substantial menu that represents good value (their lunch specials are a relative bargain), Melbas transforms into a split-level nightclub in the evenings that caters to the business crowd and gives way to an all-purpose nightclub facility as the hours roll on.
The ground floor is home to a very large, centralised bar area that runs almost the entire length of the level and is designed with general access in mind, while the upstairs level has more restricted access and is often home to venues and other VIP-based functions. The club has remained trendy over the years, and while it attempts to cater to a slightly older market, the demographic is hardly restricted, and it often becomes a haven for those of all ages to dance the night away to the usual assortment of Top 40 hits. Drinks are comparably priced to other clubs and the venue's large size means that, although the volume of people of quite high, the space is never too confined as can be the case in other venues of similar popularity. Frequent events and promotions are also held at Melbas - be sure to check in advance whether or not there's something that suits your tastes happening. Address: 46 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD, 4217 Recommended For: Good value dining during the day; balanced nightclub experience in the evenings
Shooters Saloon Bar
One of the largest and longest-standing nightclubs on the Gold Coast, Shooters Saloon Bar has become something of a Surfers Paradise icon over the years, and alternates between providing two main functions: that of a sports bar during the day and a nightclub in the evenings. Shooters has frequent promotional events taking place that help to draw crowds in - bikini and modelling contests of varying descriptions are a staple - and provides a decent balance in its musical offerings between dance, pop, rock and R&B. Due to its popularity, lines can be long when queuing for entry, and the place itself, while large, is often packed to capacity - both a testament to its reputation and its decently balanced atmosphere.
The only real "trouble" with Shooters is that its entrance stairway forms a sort of "congestion point" where entry to multiple other venues, including nightclubs, small restaurants, convenience stores and other facilities all converge, meaning that it can be a noisy, physical and often unpleasant hub of activity that regular police patrols are always not far from. Once inside the club itself however, a reliable night of enjoyment can usually be expected, and their drink prices are relatively reasonable. A cover charge applies, although throughout the day free entry passes are almost incomparably easy to acquire while walking the street. Address: 15 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD, 4217 Recommended For: A reliable "go-to" night out venue for those without any specific preference for music genres
As can be expected by its name, SinCity pulls no punches when attempting to raunch up the atmosphere. A distinctly Vegas-style atmosphere permeates the venue, and the waitresses definitely look the part; in the evenings the outfits are skimpy and the staff who work there are definitely high on the scale of visual beauty. The club itself has only been operating for the past few years but has quickly become one of the Gold Coast's hotspots - it is a fairly large venue inside and features multiple bars and dance floors, seating areas, and advanced light shows put on by up-to-date technology.
From a purely hedonistic standpoint, SinCity provides one of the rawest nights of pure fun on the Gold Coast for the young-and-single or just-want-to-let-loose crowds. As with any other venue in Surfers Paradise however, the night can often only be as enjoyable as the crowd that is in attendance; due to the frequent crowding altercations are not uncommon, although there is typically sufficient security to stay on top of the proceedings. Drink prices are of the same pricey-yet-expected standard that are to be paid within a nightclub, while a cover charge of $15 (which often includes a drink in the price) applies. Address: 22 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD, 4217 Recommended For: High-energy, visually appealing nights out; dance enthusiasts; those who don't mind busy venues
Another new entry to the Surfers Paradise nightclub scene, Vanity offers a good selection of music and several VIP lounge areas that provide a seat for when the legs get tired. The venue attracts a good crowd and is often quite busy, with the famously loud music being the main event - the dance floor is definitely the place to be at Vanity. The club tends to attract a younger crowd and this is their core focus demographic, with the decor and interior being almost completely new since its name change and redesign.
Top 40 music is the name of the game at Vanity, with drinks of a standard price (although no cocktail list is available - the focus is on dancing rather than chilling out, after all). Ladies nights are a big drawcard and make for an extremely cheap and enjoyable night out for young women, with attractive male bartenders to serve on hand. Pure, simply, young, fun are the aims of Vanity. Address: 26 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD, 4217 Recommended For: Young adults, specifically women