Melbourne, 1960s

Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne

ca. 1966



Melbourne disco The Mad Hatter is now all but forgotten -- mainly, it seems, because it only operated for a short period. The only internet reference we've been able to track down so far is a passing mention in Iain Macintrye's interview with Lobby Loyde on the Wild About You website, in which Lobby refers to Mad Hatter as one of their regular gigs in Melbourne.

Fortunately, Mike Olive spent many exciting evenings at the Hatter and he has kindly contributed these great memories of this venue:

"One excellent Melbourne venue that seems to have been overlooked is the Mad Hatter Discotheque. I first went there as a pretty naive mid-teen seeking out hot live bands with two of my best mates. If memory serves me well, the Mad Hatter was located at the top of Little Lonsdale Street and as as we walked along the lane we heard a wailing harmonica and spine tingling guitar, the likes of which we had never heard before from an Australian band. The sounds belonged to Mick Hadley and Lobby Loyde of the mighty Purple Hearts."

"The initial location of the Hatter was the top floor of what looked like a converted warehouse. The fairly large area was pretty basic, with a minimum of decoration and facilities, but we thought it was fantastic. Then the Hatter moved to a new location just a few doors down the Lane. The building was one of those funky blue stone affairs that seemed to be the norm for Melbourne discos in those days. This venue was a bit more up market with the walls painted in black and white Alice in Wonderland /Art Deco theme murals apparently by Kim Lynch of The Loved Ones."

"As discos went the Mad Hatter was smaller than most, smaller even than Sebastian's, but it was was a great venue. The small size and the fact that the stage was only about 6 inches higher than the dance floor meant that is was the best place in Melbourne to experience a live performance. It was a bit like having the band play in your lounge room! 

The band members usually mixed freely with the audience after their set, one night I was fortunate enough to get an impromptu harmonica lesson from Gerry Humphreys no less. The Hatter had some great bands playing there; The Loved Ones were regular (amazing) performers and I was fortunate enough to experience the feedback frenzy and guitar/amplifier smashing anarchy of the incredible Running, Jumping, Standing Still with the manic Andy James and Doug Ford in full flight."

"The Mad Hatter did not seem to last very long and after it closed in 1966(?) my friends and I moved on the the totally wild Biting Eye, a place that suited our increasingly rebellious attitude down to the ground."

References / Links

Sincere thanks to Mike Olive for his recollections.

Wild About You: The Purple Hearts
Interview with Lobby Loyde by Iain D. Mcintyre