A Nightlife Guide to the Best Clubs in Adelaide, Australia

Adelaide is a great city for late-night drinks and partying
Adelaide is a great city for late-night drinks and partying | © Boaz Rottem / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Cathy Kelly
6 October 2020

Adelaide, known as one of the festival cities of the world, also has a colourful selection of clubs to keep you moving and grooving until the early hours of the morning. From Cry Baby to Mary’s Poppin, here’s our selection of the best places to party.

Cry Baby

Nightclub, Cocktails, $$$
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The red neon sign at the entrance is reminiscent of a New York bar and will make you feel like you’ve walked onto a movie set starring Matthew McConaughey as the sexy bartender. You can almost hear his warm southern drawl offering you a drink from its extensive (and pricey) selection of aged whiskeys and more reasonably priced local beers. With the warm red glow of the neon-lit letters, the girlie mag wallpaper and pool tables, this club prides itself on offering good times, loud music and bad hangovers. The jukebox with music from the ’60s to the ’80s adds a fun element to a great night out.

Electric Circus

Nightclub, Cocktails
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Electric Circus is open every Saturday night and has been leading the way on the Adelaide clubbing scene since 2003. This moderately priced basement venue regularly invites top Australian and international DJs to enter through its iconic red doors. Make sure you visit this popular spot which Rihanna described as “one of the best Australian clubs I’ve ever been to”.

Rocket Bar and Rooftop

Bar, Contemporary, Beer, $$$
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Upstairs from Electric Circus is the Rocket Bar and Rooftop nightclub. You can dance to your heart’s content to dancehall, funk and hip-hop music in this unpretentious venue situated in the heart of Adelaide. When you need a breather, chill out in one of the booths on the rooftop terrace with fantastic views of the Adelaide skyline, seen through the fronds of the palm trees dotted around the seating. This inexpensive club on the top level of the popular Crippen Place complex is one of the hippest institutions in Adelaide.

Bank Street Social

Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
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This award-winning underground bar (Best Nightlife Experience in 2018 City Awards) offers the best of South Australian beer and wine, along with premium gins and whiskeys. The raw brick walls and exposed wooden beams create an inviting atmosphere, and there is even an elevated private loft available for parties of up to 20 guests. The carefully positioned vintage lights create a laid-back environment that makes it easy to forget about the outside world as you tuck into one of its moderately priced pizzas stacked with locally sourced ingredients. This must-visit venue is known for its lively vibe on weekends, with DJs spinning house, disco and party jams all night. It also hosts regular jazz and blues nights.

Jive

Bar, Cocktails
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Regulars love the funky lounge vibe of this club, from its bright blue facade to the vibrant colour scheme inside. Since the ’70s, this space has undergone many transformations, from its original role as a theatre to a strip joint to a night club. Relax and enjoy the local and international live music acts at this former theatre, where the sunken dance floor offers a clear view of the stage from the bar. Or you can head upstairs to the balcony for a better view. When the live act has performed its final encore and you’ve sampled the extensive but reasonably priced range of wines and spirits, it’s time to tear up the dance floor as DJ Craig spins your favourite indie tunes. This live music venue is now also a record and vintage store in the daytime, selling hundreds of new and used types of vinyl, CDs, books and tour T-shirts.

Distill

Bar, Cocktail Bar, Cocktails, $$$
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This classy cocktail and wine bar on two levels offers the best of both worlds for those who want to party and have a good catch-up. The downstairs lounges are perfect if you want to indulge in conversation while sipping inventive cocktails with ambient music in the background. For those who want to let it rip on the dance floor, the upstairs level has resident DJs playing tunes guaranteed to get you moving and shaking. The drinks are moderately priced with friendly bar staff mixing the cocktails.

Zhivago

Bar, Beer, $$$
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This underground venue with an industrial interior featuring exposed piping and hard edges has long lines of people queuing outside every weekend night. The raised DJ deck commands the attention, while the graffiti decor and strobe lights all add to the industrial vibe. The island bar offers a fantastic array of inexpensive drinks, while the staff create a nightlife experience its patrons won’t easily forget thanks to their great customer service. Zhivago offers access to top international hip hop performances and the best Sunday night experience in Adelaide.

Mary’s Poppin

LGBTQ Bar, Cocktails
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This popular LGBTQ hangout always has a long line outside on weekends, so it’s best to arrive early. Known for its inclusive atmosphere, it serves reasonably priced cocktails (made by the friendly bar staff) and music that will have your hips wiggling, whether you’re standing or sitting. Regulars and newcomers enjoy the high-quality performances by talented queens, while they sip on a Long Island iced tea (with a maraschino cherry twist) and soak up the retro disco vibe. There are also VIP booths available for hire, which offer easy access (skip the queues), great views of the shows and drinks on the house.

These recommendations were updated on October 6, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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