Once known as the Northcote Theatre, The Regal Ballroom is the oldest purpose built cinema surviving in Victoria, and possibly the oldest surviving in the country. Built in 1912 by architect Edward Twentyman Jnr, it was nothing less than an impeccably composed theatre for all.
A perfectly restored example of Edwardian Baroque and a fifty-year association with cinema and entertainment (not to mention the first Melbourne building to be lit by electricity), the now Regal Ballroom has a historical significance to its home. In its opening year, it became the venue for The Annual Northcote Mayoral Ball. And was later popularised for Vaudeville, Burlesque comedy, silent cinema and song and dance.
The theatre was the pinnacle of all of High St and Northcote for the next several decades, luring people from all over Melbourne to the up and coming area. Subsequently, The Northcote theatre became part of the chain of Hoyts cinemas and was even featured in the 1952 film ‘Night Club’ directed by A.R. Harwood and starred Joey Porter.
However with the growing competition from neighbouring suburbs such as Brunswick and Collingwood, Northcote was seen less as the prominent entertainment quarter and people stopped visiting the Theatre. Sadly, The Northcote Theatre finally closed its doors in 1960. For almost half a century, the theatre was lost to the public as it changed into many forms. It never captured the grandeur of its glorious past again.
Fittingly re-titled The Regal Ballroom and meticulously restored and detailed to its former glory, The Northcote theatre has been transformed into an astonishing event space that has brought the theatre back to its core values: Bringing people together. Nestled right in the heart of High Street Northcote, between boutique coffee houses, vintage stores and some of the most talked about bars and restaurants in Melbourne is the awe-inspiring Regal Ballroom. Almost a century ago, when women were adorned in trailing skirts and broad-brimmed hats, The Regal Ballroom was Melbourne’s most prominent picture theatre. Obviously we weren’t around then, but can only imagine that legendary films such as Hamlet and the original Robin Hood graced its screen. Back in the day, masses of theatre enthusiasts crammed the halls in bowties and bowler hats to celebrate the wonders of the moving picture. Today, the outfits have no doubt changed but the sentiment of celebration remains the same. Whether you’re holding a friendly gathering, a milestone birthday, an Annual Awards night or the celebration of two lives in joining, the Regal Ballroom is for you.
The last thing you want to do is share your special day with another bride and groom, let alone a teenage football club. Despite their best intentions, many other venues end up slotting you in between others. At The Regal Ballroom, there’s no such thing. Our ornate foyer and beautiful main room is exclusively yours. And so is our attention. there’s one thing a bride-to-be wants – it’s the chance to feel like she’s living a real life fairytale. That’s exactly what The Regal Ballroom offers. Right from the double paneled glass doors to the chandelier that hangs in the entrance hall, you’ll feel like you’ve been plucked from reality and placed into the magical pages of a Cinderella story.
The entrance hall serves the same purpose as it did back in 1912. It’s a meeting place for guests of the event to enjoy a glass of sparkling or a single finger of Johnny Walker. If you choose, your guests will also be presented with a wide array of our chef’s selection of hot and cold canapés. It’s the perfect space to draw you into the main room of high ceilings, low-hanging lights and embellished cornices. Remember the old days, when theatres had a single screen, velour curtains and a single stage? No, neither do we, but we can appreciate that the romanticism of it all. That’s why we’ve kept the original stage. Complete with illuminated stained-glass windows and triple tiered stairs, it acts as a unique seating arrangement for the bridal party (don’t worry, there’s also the usual seating for shyer brides-to-be).
Like all good theatres, there’s also a backstage area or as we prefer to call it, the hidden bridal quarters. Decked out with comfortable couches, a bunch of full-length mirrors and a fully catered bar, it gives you the space you need to prepare for your special day.