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November 9, 2023

Two decades of Jive

One of Adelaide’s most beloved live music venues turns 20 this month so we spoke to owner Tam Boakes about the gigs, gaffes and green room moments that have made the decades special.

  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Picture: Jack Fenby

  When Tam Boakes clicked her cigarette lighter to life in the empty property of 181 Hindley Street in late August 2002, she saw the next 20 years unfold before her.


This article first appeared in our 10 Years of CityMag, Spring 2023 edition, which is on streets now.


“I was walking around the inside of the building with a cigarette lighter, going ‘Oh wow, there’s a stage; Ooh there’s a bar. Yeah, I’ll take it!’,” she tells CityMag.

“Site unseen, pretty much, signed a lease and went back and found the lights and went, ‘Oh, my god, this is amazing’.”

After the 27-year-old signed the lease, returned to the property and flicked on the found lights, she laid eyes on the wrap-around mezzanine of the 300-capacity space: a design quirk allowing punters of all sizes to see the stage, whether on the bottom or upper levels.

Among other things, such as Tam’s consistent ahead-of-the-curb programming and the site’s carefully-cultivated sense of intimacy, the mezzanine sealed the deal for the venue’s next two decades of success.

Thousands of gigs, hundreds of hangovers and many years after Tam first opened the doors, the business owner has been through it all.

This includes monumental highs, such as the 2003 sell-out Empire of the Sun show that kicked off just after the Melbourne jazz-ska group blew up internationally with the stomper ‘Hello Hello’.

“It was just a door ticket, and there was this lineup around the corner and we had to turn away about 300 people that night,” Tam recalls, laughing.


181 Hindley Street, Adelaide 5000
Friday: 8pm ’til 12am
Saturday: 8pm ’til 3am


But the venue’s history is also pockmarked by lows, the most notable when the state government mandated the closure of live music institutions across the city during the pandemic. In December 2020, a group of music industry stakeholders launched a fundraiser to keep Jive alive as the venue couldn’t pivot into other trade.

But Jive pushed through the challenges, with Tam fronting the storm face on.

Tam is “always in the bar every night” pulling pints and pouring drinks, with her mum Anne Boakes, “the first female music director” in the country, working the door, she tells us.

Jive is located at 181 Hindley Street, Adelaide. Connect with the business on Instagram for more.

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