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The Seaview Hotel - Home of The Crystal Ballroom

The Crystal Ballroom (AKA The Ballroom / Seaview Ballroom) was a prominent alternative rock venue within the Seaview Hotel located in Fitzroy Street St.Kilda (an inner city suburb of Melbourne, Australia). It was run by a succession of Melbourne Rock promoters from 1978 to 1987 starting with Dolores San Miguel (who later ran gigs at the 'Exford hotel', '475 Club', 'Mt. Erica hotel' and the 'Esplanade hotel') and then later on by Laurie Richards (who also founded a number of other prominent Melbourne Rock venues such as the 'Tiger Lounge' in Richmond and the 'Jump Club' in Fitzroy). The Crystal Ballroom, which was also known as the 'The Ballroom' and then as the 'Seaview Ballroom', was given the name because of its significant ballroom and chandeliers on the first floor of the Seaview Hotel. It has often been referred to by major underground bands, alternative music media journalists and music industry identities of that era as being the centerpiece of Melbourne's post punk movement. The Crystal Ballroom is to Melburnians what CBGB's is to New Yorkers. Prior to the hotel being called the 'Seaview Hotel' it was known as The George Hotel, but was renamed the Seaview Hotel in the 1970s.

The venue first got its start as a major alternative night spot in Melbourne when Dolores San Miguel took charge of the venue from its previous occupants in August 1978. Her first band to play there was JAB which featured notable Melbourne punk / post punk identities such as Bohdan, Johnny Crash and Ash Wednesday in the Wintergarden Room (a side room upstairs). . Then on September the 2nd 1978, Dolores took control of the Ballroom and opened it up as the 'Wintergarden Room' at the Seaview Hotel. The first gig in the Seaview Ballroom was the 'Boys Next Door' who headlined with The 'Little Cuties' as the support act. Dolores continued to run the Ballroom every Saturday night until it was taken over by Laurie Richards in February 1979. Laurie Richards renamed the venue the 'Crystal Ballroom' and operated it under that name until January 10th 1981, although Dolores returned in April of 1980 to run weeknight gigs in what she christened, the 'Paradise Lounge' on the ground floor. After Laurie left, Dolores took on a business partner, Nigel Rennard, and they ran the venue as The Ballroom until a falling out in September of ’81, whereby Dolores vacated her position. Nigel renamed the venue the Seaview Ballroom and ran it till the end of ’83. Dolores was back in ’84 but left in early ’85. She ran a few nights in 1986 before the hotel/venue was closed for business in 1987. Dolores San Miguel has since written a book about her times as a promoter of The Ballroom and other venues which is due to be published in November 2011.

The venue was best known as the 'Crystal Ballroom' because this was its name when during its height of significance as a key venue for Melbourne's Post Punk movement as well as becoming a highly recognizable venue from its association with some of the significant international and local music acts of the time who played there during that period. In addition to this, The Crystal Ballroom is also specifically and continually mentioned by prominent interview guests in the Dogs In Space bonus DVD documentary We're Living on Dog Food which has further crystallized its place in the post punk history of Melbourne[3].
The Crystal Ballroom was a major staging ground in launching alternative Melbourne Bands such as The Birthday Party and Hunters and Collectors as well as visiting Sydney bands such as INXS, The Laughing Clowns and Brisbane's The Go Betweens. It was also a major club venue for visiting English acts such as The Cure, Magazine and XTC as well as many alternative American acts of the time such as The Residents, Snakefinger and The Dead Kennedys.

The popularity of the club has enjoyed renewed interest in recent times in Melbourne with the advent of a series of club reunions in 2009 and 2010 of former club punters through the Facebook Group 'I Got Drunk at the Crystal Ballroom' which also hosts many comments from former club goers regarding its history, what the fashions were and what bands played there in various discussion threads and wall posts by its 500 plus members.


Parent Category Page Links: Music Venues - Australia

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