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intro: As Thornbury Theatre is given a new least of life by Aloke, it could also play the leading role in ensuring that Indian events get a centre stage in Melbourne’s arts circuit, write Tanu

story: Thornbury Theatre is a venerable venue. Time Out Melbourne referred to it as the grand dame of High Street. It has been operating since 1926 and has loads of old world charm and character.

While the main attraction at the theatre is their live music and free entry from Thursday through Sunday, 5 to 1 am, there is a lot more to Thornbury Theatre than is immediately obvious.

“There are three different rooms. All with very different look, feel and purpose. “The ballroom is on the first floor and we can do dinner and wedding parties there. We can seat over 400 people in a formal round table set up,” says Aloke, the Chief Operating Officer here. There is a even a dance floor that is polished to a shine.

The Front Lounge is where the live music happens.

Then there is the Velvet Room. “This is another room and we do different functions here like music events, dinner and dance or even corporate functions,” says Aloke.
Aloke is very excited about this new venture. “I have a background in hospitality. I studied it for many years and I have a passion for music. It all really came together when I was offered a chance to buy it over.” He used to be a regular here and the management was familiar with him, when they made the offer.

“Since I took over, there have been more Indian events here. We did Apache Indian, Love Janjua, and then we had a Rafi and Kishore night,” says Aloke adding that it was a fantastic occasion for many families to go out together. “There are not many options for the older, mature crowd and this venue is safe and a good option for such a crowd.”

He has also turned around the kind of events that are held here. In April, there is a wrestling event. American wrestling sensation Sonjay Dutt will be at the Theatre and Aloke is really excited about him coming to India for the first time.
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Nestled between Northcote and Preston, Thornbury is often derided. Aloke has an answer for those who think the area is not safe or desirable in any way. “I don’t believe that. I’ve been doing business here for a long time. I’ve not seen a single incident. I know a lot of locals. I find it to be a safe place and this area is a music lovers’ area. Lot s musicians live nearby and it’s a happening place for the arts scene.”

“A lot of restaurants and bars have come up in the area since I’ve been here. So we’ve contributed to the area as well. We get a lot of support from the area and we like to think that we give back as well.”

Logistically, you could not ask for a better placed venue. Within minutes walking distance from both train and tram stations, it begs you to leave your car at home. However, should you need to drive here, there is plenty of off street parking around the theatre.

Aloke has a lot of plans for the venue and one of it involves bringing more and more Indian events onto this stage. “I want to bring Indian events to good venues.”

Blurb: I know a lot of locals. I find it to be a safe place and this area is a music lovers’ area.