Roslyn Street has come a long way since I used to get decadent at the Piccolo Bar for my dose of local bohemia. Back then, dark corners and alley addicts were de rigueur, and their presence made being there all the more thrilling.
But, as Venus Room co-owner Peter Clare says: It’s time our community had somewhere -˜nice’ to go. And with the opening of this new club in the Cross, the time has come.
The street’s a bit cleaner and tidier, but -“ unless you’re strolling up from Betty Bay -“ wading through the sex club spruikers is a given, I’m afraid. Thankfully, Venus Room’s little corner at 2 Roslyn Street, which boasts the newest thing in gender illusion and apr?dinner entertainment, is safely strip-lit and off the main drag (sorry!).
The baby-faced blue-eyed boy on the door welcomes me in with a tentative smile. He’s right -“ I’m not the club’s demographic -“ but on this, the Venus Room’s opening night, I know I’ll be welcomed with open arms because this venture is a family affair. This isn’t to say that lesbians or young ‘uns aren’t normally welcome. The Venus Room has a stake in Palms on Oxford, which has a long tradition of welcoming everyone, regardless of sex, creed, shape or colour. It’s been a very good little family thing, Clare confides. We only started planning in November after we took possession -“ so it’s not that long -“ but it seems like four years!
Certainly the love and care taken in the interior would suggest oodles of time and energy, plus a lot of forethought into what a good cosy bar should be. Everyone else doing clubs and bars at the moment is going for the absolute minimal clean-line white look and we decided we wanted a point of difference, says Dennis Clements, Venus Room design guru. We also wanted to hark back to the original days of the Cross because the name -˜Venus Room’ comes from an original name from years ago and we wanted to evoke that but with a modern feel.
That said, Clements says the team wanted to go for something very rich and they think they have achieved that as an atmosphere. It’s modern rococo -“ chocolate, gold and cabernet sauvignon, he grins. Basically, if you’ve seen the bottom of a wine glass, you’ve seen this bar! We’re going for all the sensory indulgences that people love -“ gold, chocolate and red wine.
And love it you will, from the vast swags of claret-coloured velvet curtains trimmed with gold and fabulous chocolate and gold wallpaper, down to the stunning occasional tables and pinot-inspired easy chairs and booths.
As the night progresses, you can move on to different areas of the bar, as the mere structure of club suggests three distinct areas. You start with a smart cocktail or champers and then you move down to the nice cuddly nook in the middle and then you move down to the dance floor and have a little boogie, and then see a show later on, Clements says.
We want people to be able to come in and warm up to the shows -“ if that’s what they want, explains Clare. People can choose exactly how they wish to spend their night here because you can still see what’s going on from the front bar area.
When asked about the potential age of its clientele, the Venus Room crew is coy, but if opening night hostess Carlotta has anything to say about it, it’s definitely a venue for the over-30s. Yes, it’s a slightly older crowd, but whatever your age, you’ll have a great time here, Clements explains. People seem to be moving away from the strip [Oxford Street] a lot, and I think we’ve taken what’s best from that area and put it into Venus Room. And best of all, there’s not a pokie in the place. Apart from anything else, that should get us there!
Venus Room is open Thursday to Monday from 8pm to 6am with shows including Portia Turbo, Farren Heit, Monique Kelly, Doreen Manganini, Vanity Faire and more.