Feb 16, 2021 | Food & Drink

Dancing in the Moonlight of The Brunswick Hotel

Author: Rachel Baillie

Illustrator: Liam Jordan

There’s something almost spiritual about a night out in the 3056. Perhaps it’s the lights and colourful graffiti, resembling stained-glass windows, that decorate Brunswick. Perhaps it’s the buzz of a packed bar, and feeling involved in something bigger than yourself. Do you not feel relaxed, at peace, when you’re chowing down on a kebab on Sydney Road at 3am?

When I reflect on my fondest memories of Brunswick nightlife, many take place at a venue that, unfortunately, no longer exists. The Brunswick Hotel (or more affectionately known as “The Brunny”) was one of the best local pubs, before closing in 2018 after flooding.  The Brunny was a truly sacred venue. My friends and I visited every Wednesday night, without fail, for some mid-week excitement to break up the monotony of university. We’d jump on the 19 tram, make our way to the corner of Weston St and Sydney Rd, and indulge in Brunny festivities.

There were a lot of great things about The Brunny – the selection of beers, the eclectic decorations, the proximity to kebab shops. But what really stand outs in my memories is the dancefloor. Let me tell you about it.

The dancefloor was two levels. The ground level was just next to the bar, so if you wanted drinks before a dance, that’s where you stood. Further away from the bar, towards the back wall facing Sydney Road, the floor was elevated, and this section was where the real boogie action happened.

There were smoke machines, and blue and silver shining lights. On the back wall draped a red velvet curtain, where I’ve seen many a person cling to while falling mid-shuffle. On some nights (Wednesdays) the d-floor was packed, and you’d be dancing shoulder to shoulder with your best friends or complete strangers (who were soon to feel like best friends when you’re all belting Come On Eileen at the top of your lungs in unison). Or sometimes, like on quieter Monday nights, there’d only be a few soldiers left standing, taking up space with their wild moves as Dancing In The Moonlight plays and enjoying the company of the few friends who were willing to put up with a Tuesday hangover.

The sense of intimacy on The Brunny dancefloor was also created by Mo, who was the DJ in my years. Mo Mann was chatty, wore oversized shirts and had the patience of a saint. I can’t imagine the tolerance it must take to put up with crowds of uni students demanding “play Beds Are Burning again!”. But he did. He put on all pop / 80’s rock / hip hop hits requested, encouraged by the cheers of excitement from both levels of the dancefloor.

And then, at around 3am, the lights would turn on. Last drinks were called, the smoke machine turned off, and Mo would wrap up the tunes. There was definitely romance blossomed on this iconic dancefloor, too. One friend reminded me recently that he had his first kiss with his girlfriend on this very dancefloor, and they’ve been together for years now.

At this point, it was time to yourself a kebab, find yourself an Uber, and prepare for the headache and sore feet tomorrow. “We’ll see you here, same time next Wednesday” – the bartenders would say.

What are your best memories of a night out in Brunswick? And where should I take my dancing shoes next? Let us know, we’d love to hear your stories.

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