The Croft Institute21 Croft Alley, Melbourne, VIC
The Croft Institute lends itself to many different creative art forms. The inherent play of light & shadow as well as the interesting architecture and featured apparatus make it an ideal location for many creative art forms. Music video clips, movie trailers, arthouse films, fashion designers & theatre installations have all made use of the space. The gymnasium has played host to a number of creative productions including 'The Miracle Men' & Dean Arcuri's
The Croft Institute Review
Review By Suzan Mustafa
There is definitely some weird science going on in the heart of Melbourne's China Town. Tucked away in the Croft Alley, The Croft Institute has become famous for its illusive atmosphere that makes it one of the most unique bars in Melbourne.
Set over three levels, The Croft Institute will be sure to make you want to put on your school blazers and pull up your knee socks on arrival. Filled with test tubes and old chemistry flasks, the ground level houses a laboratory. With opaque lighting and shelved science labware, this level is the perfect place to take an alcoholic detention as The Croft distills their vodka on site!
It's just not the first level where all the classroom antics occur in this very pseudo-like bar. The second and third levels of The Croft Institute would have anyone wondering if they've stepped into an alternate reality. Making your way to the second floor, the institute doesn't fail to keep brewing up a spectacle as you're confronted with a 'hospital themed waiting area' and female toilets named 'The Department of Female Hygiene'.
Fit for any gym junkie, the third level of The Croft is styled like a 1930s gymnasium and it's truly where all the action takes place. Hosting some of the best international DJ's on Friday and Saturday nights, The Croft Institute plays the latest reggae, dancehall, funk and roots. So it's the perfect place to dance the night away like you once did in gym-class, except this time your toasting among friends with alcoholic test tubes. What makes this level more appealing is when you've gone to order a drink. Not only is there a rotating list of 'microbrewery', (meaning you can order your favourite beverages that haven't been watered down), but there is also grass, yes, a whole turf of real grass growing along the bar. Bizarre, yes, but I must tip my hat to The Croft for going all out with tie Lanehe 'sports-theme'.
Make your way down Melbourne's China Town, past the gratified walls and open restaurant kitchen doors and set yourself up for an experimental night that you won't forget. You truly haven't graduated from the Melbourne Nightlife Scene if you are yet to experience The Croft Institute.
A 2nd Look Review of The Croft Institute
By Sophie Lane
I had heard the rumours, the myths and the fables. Syringes left, right, centre amongst a mish-mash of empty beer bottles and red wine spills which questionably look a lot like blood. Despite the familiarity of the aforementioned, this isn't a description of the typical Melbournian nightclub or bar. Chinatown's 'Croft Institute' aims to break aesthetic conventions of any given venue. There's a sense of suspense in the air, as the average Croft novice realises the quirkiness that is Croft from streets away.
A winding journey through alley ways, trash bins and a severe lack of signage brought uneasiness to my sober self whilst trying to locate a venue which suspiciously sounded a lot like a place of torture. A handful of crouched over crackies accelerated my pace, and I ended up finding the venue a lot quicker than first feared.
Upon entrance, The Croft Institute displays low lighting, the glistening of beakers and medical equipment being the only sparkle in a room full of surgical suspicion. To the far right of a small room the second glint of the night catches my eye, beer bottles and wine glasses of every shape and size could be seen served slowly by the heavily tattooed bar Barron. The uneasiness of the atmosphere meant that a trip to the bar occurred much quicker than at any other venue. I suspect that a clever marketing technique by Croft Conmen is to blame after noticing a sea of beer bottled hands filling up the sofa's lab chair surrounds.
Drink prices are a little above average despite the second hand surgical decor. I had suspected that some costs would have been cut in stealing Royal Children's utensils, but it turns out I was wrong. Don't be disheartened though, the beaker is indeed half full. A variety of fruit infused ciders accompanied by extensive wine and spirit lists means that selection brings no suffice. I decided to order the reddest of red wines, feeling that the choice looked a lot like bodily fluids, a keen attempt to fit in. Here's to you, Dracula.
If the main room's aesthetics aren't enough to make you queezy, locating the toilets will certainly convert you into a bar hopper turned patient. A creaky case of stairs leads up to a hallway of endless doctors surgery inspired yellow-glass paned doors. The female toilet includes a hospital bed (wheels included). I could have convinced myself I was indeed in a medical ward had I not seen a condom packet tastefully placed near the hand basin. I took one last look at the white sheets to my left and decided to head back downstairs before my mind wandered. Oh the sights that bed must have seen.
Back down stairs and the bar was packed. Left, right and centre beer bottles have progressed to house-style cocktails fed through syringes. It may have taken four glasses of red-blood wine to find myself accustomed to the atmosphere, but as the night progressed I couldn't imagine being anywhere else. Yes, I had been converted. The brainwash was successful. Come three am I was a member of The Croft Institute.
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