The Catcher: Melbourne’s 1960s discotheques and law and order

Shane Homan, Jen Rose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


By the middle of the 1960s, Australia’s ‘first wave’ of rock and roll had been superseded by a maturing set of music-media industries, although significant differences remained between Australian cities and states in relation to live music circuits (venue trading hours, types of venues and their uses). The Catcher, a Flinders Lane music venue that operated from 1966 to 1971 as part of a flourishing inner Melbourne scene of blues, rock and rhythm and blues, is examined as part of a discotheque boom that granted the city the status of Australia’s ‘pop capital’. In examining the circumstances of the unlicensed discotheque period that emerged from the mid 1960s, the Catcher’s relatively brief yet vivid tenure represented the expansion of Melbourne’s live music sector derived from a distinctive combination of regulatory, industry and media contexts. At the same time, examination of subsequent media and bureaucratic attention placed venues such as the Catcher within wider local concerns about youth, sexuality and ‘responsible’ nightlife. This article situates the Catcher within moral panic cycles of media/governmental attention and its consequences for local youth and popular music scenes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-540
Number of pages18
JournalHistory Australia
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • 1960s Melbourne
  • discotheques
  • Popular music
  • youth leisure

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