An oral history of Revolver, Melbourne’s most famous nightclub

Fewer clubs have built an air of mystery, intrigue and notoriety so strong that it crosses interstate – and probably international – borders than Revs. Nestled in the trenches of Chapel Street, the Valhalla party on the south side, Revolver Upstairs is one of Melbourne’s oldest, most respected and notorious party institutions.

It’s a type of place if you know you know – if you’re uninitiated, the rumors are probably enough to drive you away. But for those of us who have done our Revs stints, the reality is that it’s… a club. A weird club, of course, with a unique combination of infamy and a 24-hour license that brings out a peculiar mix of cooks from the woodwork every weekend.

But it’s really just a club. A good fun club, community and one of Melbourne’s most iconic venues. The one you can always rely on when the party inside won’t die, but everywhere else is closed. Like all great sites, behind it all is the work of incredibly hardworking people.

In all seriousness: nothing hits the reset switch on your psyche quite like a depraved trip to Revs.

What did you do on God’s Abyss Earth to end up in Revolver on Sunday morning? You can’t really be sure. All you know is that you’re still there, on the dance floor, as the midday sunlight pierces through the curtains, illuminating the sofas, the kitsch decor and the DJ cage. Then you tumble out of the room, a whole new squad of friends in tow, down the stairs and onto Chapel Street below. As your eyes adjust to the blinding sunlight, you see families pushing prams, young professionals heading out for brunch, elderly people strolling on Sundays. Terrifying stuff. Your twisted brain can’t figure it out.

It started out as an oral history of Revolver, but hardly anyone who currently works there or has worked there in the past wanted to talk. It’s entirely possible that Revolver has some sort of gnarly handshake NDA deal with all of its staff – almost certainly due to the huge effort it takes to keep the nightclub open amid the pandemic losses. , spurious allegations, licenses, cops and watchful eyes of whatever other administrative gremlins are determined to shut it down. The funniest part of all of this is that the rumors about Revs are way worse than the truth.

What is everyone wrong about Revolver?

Hank, former employee

The technicality of it. This place runs like a well oiled machine. People think it’s a damp, lawless place, but they have the most intense security cameras and all-around capabilities I’ve ever seen.

Also, that the staff hate their jobs. I remember being asked that all the time. It’s actually a pretty fun place to work with a lot of benefits. Basically, you Pay be there, we to be paid be there.

What does closing/cleaning/putting away look like?

It’s a pretty standard packdown to be honest, but the Sunday and Monday morning closings were the most fun because you had to go through all the couches. I practically got my paycheck back from the amount of bags I found under the cushions. But there was also tons of random shit. Several dildos. Many times.

What are the salient memories?

Once a Frenchman tried to trade me a bag of ket to let it through the back door.

When Fatboy Slim did a surprise show, I saw one of the other bussies try to knock someone who was climbing into the DJ’s cage down by hitting them with a broom.

I once saw someone throw up in a trash can in the bathroom and then take their fake teeth out of the trash can.

One time we were trying to move a couch off the main dance floor and then the patrons kind of took it from us and the crowd surfed it into the room.

What’s Your Revs Story?

Lavender, boss tempted

I recently tried to pop my Revs cherry and was refused entry. I think I’m probably the only person who got rejected by Revs.

Carmen, former participant

I went to a summer series party in 2014 at Revolver to see Nina Kravitz perform. In the wee hours of the morning, I went out to the smokers for a respite from the borderline sauna upstairs. My friend and I were leaning against the fence, chatting, smoking. At that time, there was no mesh or barbed wire on the fence like there is now, which prevents people from jumping over the fence.

The fence was only a few feet high, it was quite accessible from Greville Street if you wanted to jump over it. As I was leaning against the fence, I noticed this woman in front of me who looked like her life was flashing before her eyes. She was pointing directly at me and I didn’t understand why – until I felt feathers flutter on my face and claws in my hair.

Someone had gently placed a turkey on my head on the other side of the fence.

I knocked the turkey off my head and propelled it towards the masses. Chaos reigned, one girl had tears in her eyes. It wreaked havoc for a while until a member of bar staff took it away. Supposedly he had spent the rest of his shift guarding the turkey until someone from the RSPCA could come and collect it.

Some time later I heard through the grapevine that it was supposedly about two private school boys who woke up one day and thought it would be hilarious to go east for an hour, to buy a live turkey on Gumtree and drop it in the Revolver smokers. I often think of the turkey and the life she lived after this trauma she endured. I believe the turkey is an unsuspecting icon.

Lily, frequent participant

This time I was there with a few friends and we were all dancing and one of them disappeared for a while and all of a sudden he came back out of nowhere and told me that some random guy told me did a massage on the couches and it was so good he came.

Oli, fan

The first time I went there, I stayed until 10am. the next day. I tried ket and amyl for the first time and was caught taking said ket down the toilet by security. They didn’t kick us out or take our ket, they just looked disappointed and asked us to stop.

That first time ruined my life for at least two weeks. The second time, I went much less hard. I also made the most caps I ever made: 3.5, I gave my last half to the dude ket [they guy who sold us ket] when I woke up.

Despite all of this, I felt safe and cool, and if I ever want to have another massive blowout like this, I’ll be back.

Tell me about Revs.

Nic, former employee

The whole “someone died over there” is definitely a false rumor going around [authors’ note: while many people love to believe this, it actually didn’t happen].

The craziest shit I’ve seen was one time I had to drop by and check the toilets, there was still shit everywhere but they were surprisingly clean that day. A few minutes later one of the customers came and told me I really needed to clean the toilet so I came back and found that someone had taken a big dirty poo from the trough where you wash hands.

The best thing I found other than all the drugs, cigarettes, and gold coins would be a few $100 chips.

Peach, Rat OG Revs

My friend once got a lifetime ban for splashing toilet water on someone’s face.

Another friend had his lifetime ban overturned by licking Techno Viking’s shoes.

I also saw someone licking the smokers floor for a cigarette.

Who is Techno Viking?

He was one of OG’s “iconic” bouncers. Then maybe five years ago they had to change companies or something because all the secrets changed (and the rest of my friend’s lifetime bans were inadvertently lifted lol).

I guess knowing Techno Viking has become a litmus test for OG Revs rats.

What is the truth about towers?

Maddy, OG participant

Revolver has a very bad reputation. Look, don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen some shit cooked over there, but you just have to accept it for what it is, you know. A very good moment.

About 11 or 12 years ago, I met two of my best friends there, separately. One of them, we chatted in the smoking room for hours, made up fake names (which he still uses) and got married (naturally). The other one I met a few weeks later who asked me to be bridesmaid at her wedding, I said yes of course!

Revolver holds a place in my heart because I experienced it a little differently. We used to catch the V line on Sunday mornings and hang out with the same massive group of people week after week. It lasted for years. Some of those friends I met back then are still a huge part of my life. It just wasn’t going to get fucked up. We were just hanging out. A bit like kicking but at the club.

The longest time I spent there was 22 hours.

And yes, I am a BIATCH member.

*most names have been changed.

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