Palais Theatre:

There have been four different Palais cinemas in St Kilda, most confusingly, three of them on the Esplanade. The open-air Pictureland opened in 1909 in Alfred Square West and was renamed the Palais from 1914-15. It closed and was demolished in 1916.  The open-air Elite Biograph opened in 1912, on the corner of Barkly and Acland Street, and became the Palais from 1915-18.  It was demolished in 1921. The American Phillips Brothers (Herman and Leon) secured the lease for the land on which they erected Luna Park in 1912 and the large timber Palais de Danse in 1913 (The former site of The Palace). After the war, in 1919, a steel-framed, arched truss structure was built over the old dancehall.  The hall was then dismantled and re-erected next door, to the north.  In 1922, Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahoney began designing a remodelled Palais Pictures. Construction of which began in 1925, but a spectacular fire engulfed the stage in February 1926, just before completion. When the Griffin's moved on to Sydney, the developers commissioned Henry E. White to build a larger, grander theatre, which opened in November 1927 and is where the current Palais Theatre still stands today.

With the cinema's decline in popularity, the Elizabethan Trust reinvigorated Palais Pictures with ballet and opera at the renamed Palais Theatre. In the 1960s, the Palais Theatre was seldom dark. There were musicals, the Royal Ballet appeared with Margot Fonteyn, and rock'n'roll's biggest stars appeared, including The Rolling Stones, Tom Jones, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison and Australia's own Johnny O'Keefe.

From 1977-1987 The Palais became the venue of choice for many major overseas punk and post-punk acts including Elvis Costello, Gary Numan, The Cure, Pretenders, Madness, The Human League, Duran Duran, New Order, John Cooper-Clarke, The Stranglers, Patti Smith, Blondie and PIL. Interstate and local bands such as The Saints, INXS, and The Models also played there. In 2017 the Palais was restored by the Victorian Government. 

In 1987 the Fashion Design Council held ‘Fashion 87’ at The Palais.

The Palace:

Situated next door to the Palais, was an entertainment complex called The Palace that was built in 1972 on the site of the former Palais de Danse, which had burned down in 1968.

Palais de Danse was opened on 20 December 1913 as a dance venue. However, with the coming of the Great War the management thought it more appropriate to show films instead. This proved a very popular choice. To cater for the growing demand, in 1920 it was decided to replace the auditorium with a much larger building. This was constructed over the top of the original structure thus allowing performances to continue uninterrupted during the construction process. On completion of the new structure, the earlier building was disassembled except for the first bay containing the foyer. This was then re-erected on the adjoining site to once again function as a dance venue under the name of Palais de Danse.

Once it was built, The Palace became the new place to party and dance to local and international acts including Prince, the Pixies, The Cramps, Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age, Moby, Anthrax, The Killers, Slipknot, The Living End, Billy Thorpe, Jimmy Barnes, Rose Tattoo, the Coloured Balls, the Arctic Monkeys, Sonic Youth, Toto, Kings of Leon, Franz Ferdinand, Beasts of Bourbon, the Masters Apprentices, Paul Kelly, Dallas Crane, Steve Vai, MC5, Hoodoo Gurus, Spiderbait, Violent Femmes, and the White Stripes, before it too was suspiciously burnt down in 2007.

Click HERE for a list of gigs at The Palais
Click HERE for a list of gigs at The Palace

Click on any image below to view
  • Main Image - The Palace, c. 2006 - Source: Wikipedia
  • Background Image - Anarchy in the Palais, newspaper clipping, PIL gig, 1984 - Source: Required
  • Palais Theatre / The Palace, 1914 - 2006 - Sources: St Kilda Historical Society, RMIT Design Archives, Wikipedia