Mode Talent's Alana, Aaron, Charlotte and Nick feel the silent disco. Photo: Simon Schluter
Silent and invisible disco
It seems like an oxymoron: a dance party without music. Well, music only you can hear, anyway. At these disco parties, dancers are given three-channel headphones so they can rock out to their tunes of choice. The advantages, says Paul Rosenberg, the director of Party Higher (which runs silent discos around town), is ''you can have a party until five in the morning and no one complains. It's also more social because you can take off the headphones and actually talk to the person next to you and hear what they have to say.''
A recent silent disco took place at the Queen Victoria Market. For coming events, see silentdiscomelbourne.com.
That's dancing with no one listening, but if you want to dance like no one's watching, you can do so through No Lights No Lycra. When the Boss sang about dancing in the dark, this is what he must have meant: lights are switched off in this ''daggy'' dance gathering that allows free movement to lose yourself in the music. See nolightsnolycra.com.
Here's one class you won't struggle to sit through: Laneway Learning is a series of informal night-time classes held in a laneway cafe that includes the wacky (the maths of Spirographs, yo-yos, cryptic crosswords), the active (karate), and the academic (the Higgs boson discovery, taught by a former theoretical particle physicist turned radio presenter).
A beekeeper brought in bees for his guide to beekeeping and a crafter taught students how to make rosette brooches. Teachers are volunteers with a field of expertise, although they're usually people from the community - the philosophy being that anyone can teach a class. Classes run for 75 minutes on Tuesday nights and the odd Wednesday, and generally cost $12. See lanewaylearning.com.
The 36 Collective
An underground experience. Based nowhere. That's how the 36 Collective describes itself: it's a unique pop-up dining experience that reclaims places in which one wouldn't expect to dine. Examples? Secret city lanes or industrial spaces. You never know what to expect: there could be a Russian banquet or, alternatively, a dinner that hands out military-style rations.
It's an anonymous operation, so don't expect more details, other than what's given on its Facebook page, facebook.com/pages/the-36-collective /336864946364561.
There's also the Secret Dining Society. When it launched in June, this top-secret club offered the chance to dine with George Calombaris in the Little Press Wine Cellar, using a menu he designed.
Whenever this event is held, 10 diners are chosen to eat with a well-known chef in a privileged setting. Interested parties - who are also willing to fork out $145 for a four-course meal with wine - register their interest on Facebook and a ballot is drawn each month. Invitees are notified about a week before the event and have 24 hours to decide whether they will accept the mission. See facebook.com/secretdiningsociety.
Release your inner kid at this crazy indoor trampoline centre: think of a skateboard park where everything is bouncy. You can do a running jump on a long trampoline into a soft-brick pit, or play dodgeball on interconnected trampolines (the centre has 100).
There are also performance trampolines for the serious jumper. Sessions go for an hour (at $16.50) and might leave you panting for more. Bookings are advised, especially on weekends. 2 Weir Street, Malvern. Phone 8199 0533, bounceinc.com.au.
Life drawing isn't only for serious artistic types. At Cheeky Drawing, classes follow a theme. When it was Blue Lagoon, the Brooke Shields movie was projected on to a wall; Disco Dancing had model Teresa striking poses with disco balls; and Ranch Badminton involved a cowgirl playing badminton to Dolly Parton tunes.
Hens' and bucks' parties are an option, too. For the hens, hunky male models display their wares, followed by burlesque dancing instructions. Every Monday night or by special appointment, $20 with materials included. See cheekydrawing.com.au.
Peninsula Hot Springs
Picture this: you're in a natural hot-spring pool on a mountaintop overlooking the Mornington Peninsula, with views towards Melbourne. It's no dream - at the Peninsula Hot Springs, you can choose from a variety of 36-degree to 43-degree pools to bathe in (the cave pool is reminiscent of a grotto) and experience a range of body-nurturing treats.
There's a reflexology pebble path to walk along, a Turkish-style steam room and cold plunge pool, and a variety of extras, such as a therapeutic massage, mud and stone treatments, or a Haman workshop.
The new thermal hydro jet pool is reserved for those who bring a physio, personal trainer or other professional, and an underwater sound experience is being tested so you can lie in the water and listen to music or meditations. Right now, you can still enjoy the moss walk, which is perfect for a barefoot stroll.
Choose between the public bathing area - a treat for families - (from $15, depending on time) or the Spa Dreaming Centre, for those over 16 who are looking for a more private experience (from $35). Springs Lane, Fingal (Rye). Phone 5950 8712, peninsulahotsprings.com.
Do a Gilligan and get lost on an island - in the middle of the city. The little-known Herring Island is in the Yarra River and is accessible only by boat. Once there, you can explore the 2.5 hectares, which include a sculpture park and barbecue facilities.
Melbourne Water Taxis and Melbourne Ferry Cruises (for larger groups) can get you there. From December to April, Parks Victoria offers a punt service so you can visit the island's Summer Arts Festival. See home.vicnet.net.au/~herring.
Rainbow World Karaoke
Who wouldn't be lured by the kitschy charms of Rainbow Karaoke? Those who aren't afraid of belting out a Mariah Carey tune can choose from 44 rooms.
There's the Barbie Style room, which looks like a pink bomb has gone off (although there's a Pink Style room, too), but those with more macho tastes have plenty to choose from, such as the Cowboy Style room or the Pirate Style room (but perhaps not the Bear Style one, which is filled with teddies).
Think you need somewhere more sophisticated? Try the Chanel Style or Louis Vuitton Style rooms. There's no room-hire fee, just a minimum spend on food and drinks. Party and VIP rooms fit up to 30 people and the complex has a sports bar, pool table and restaurant. Level 2, 206 Bourke Street, Melbourne. Phone 9650 8988, rainbowworld.com.au.
If you think yoga should be a quiet, meditative exercise, you haven't been to AcroYoga, which blends traditional yoga with acrobatics.
The idea is that the acrobatic side helps you cultivate trust in another and incorporates creative play, while the yoga portion involves balance, connection and breath awareness. Either way, you'll be that much closer to qualifying for a job in the circus.
There's only one trained AcroYoga teacher in Melbourne, Einat Bardea, who runs classes and monthly workshops. ''It's a really playful practice,'' she says. ''There is a real sense of community … and a lot of laughing!'' See playtimehealing.com.
The ski season is over … or is it? At SkiCity, an indoor skiing centre - the only one of its kind in Australia - there are rolling ski slopes (think of a white carpet over a sloping escalator) where you can ski or snowboard.
Beginners learn how to ski before their trip to Japan or Switzerland, while experienced skiiers can keep up their fitness levels. (The slope speed and gradient can be changed according to abilities.) There are three ski slopes and even yoga classes for those who don't want to ski. Bookings are essential for hourly sessions that include an instructor and all equipment. Prices from $17. 4/148 Chesterville Road, Cheltenham. Phone 1300 754 2489, www.skicity.com.au.
Once every two years, wine enthusiasts dig out their old bottles of Penfolds and head to a free recorking clinic, which is the only one of its kind in the world.
The wine maestros at Penfolds open the bottles (which can be any bottle as long as it's Penfolds), assess the wine within, and recork them. It's fascinating to watch: some people go in and are told their bottle is now worth $60,000, because recorking adds a value to a previously unknown quantity that might sell for only $10,000 on eBay.
On the other hand, owners who think they have $200,000 in wine might be told their investment is worth zilch, owing to poor storage conditions and the wine going off (for this reason, Penfolds' chief winemaker, Peter Gago, jokes that the wine producer should invest in a crying room). See penfolds.com.
Not visible from the street - you have to enter a slim doorway and climb a couple of flights of stairs - hairdressing salon Rakis on Collins isn't just an oasis for ladies who lunch (after all, creative director James Razos gives the location as ''right opposite Chanel, although there's no snobbery here''), it also caters to a celebrity clientele, with a private hair room for anyone who needs to avoid the paparazzi while in hot rollers.
Other beauty services are available, too. Jennifer Hawkins and Tina Arena have been clients. Level 2, 178 Collins Street, Melbourne. Phone 9654 6958, rakis.com.au.
This takes dude food to a whole new level: every Thursday night at The Bottom End, six contestants vie for a $250 cash prize (the runner-up gets a $100 drink card) in the club's Buffalo wing competition.
A bowl filled with 25 wings is placed in front of each person and the contestants are given three minutes to see who can eat the most. Winners have to polish off 85 per cent of each wing; the crowd went wild when a recent winner ate his stash in two minutes, 22 seconds with a 90 per cent clean-bone rate. 579 Little Collins Street, Melbourne. Phone 9629 3001, thebottomend.com.au.
Dessert nights at Cafe Rosamond
It's been going for more than two years, but you still have to be in the know: at Cafe Rosamond on Thursday nights, pastry-chef maestro Pierre Roelofs brings his creative, crazy and unusual style to the queuing crowd with his dessert degustation menu.
You can opt for one course (could you stop after the intriguing combo of beetroot, blackcurrent and yoghurt?), but you would be best to try all three, as well as his famous ''tube'', where you suck on a test tube of dessert flavours blended together to give you the dish's full effect.
No bookings, $20-$50, depending on what you choose. Rear, 191A Smith Street, Fitzroy. See pierreroelofs.com.