Nothing reinforces your lack of life skills like filling out an online dating profile. It’s the only time in the modern world where you have to list your aptitudes, and probably the only time you realise you don’t have many…well, apart from ‘Never Gets Hangovers’ or ‘Really Good At Telling If An Avocado Is Ripe By Holding It’.
If you need to upskill in a hurry, these are the places to do it. Melbourne’s best adult learning centres. Knitting, butchering, mastering Japanese: you can do them all in our fair city, if you know where to look. Take a seat. School’s in session.
How to apply day-time makeup. The secrets of record collecting. A masterclass in urban beekeeping. Yep, Laneway Learning is known for niche skills and bizarre lessons. The concept is kind of cool: a dedicated space in the CBD where you can take a class on almost ANYTHING. No matter how specific or weird. Take the next few weeks as a random sample: ‘Hawaiian Hula For Beginners’, ‘Sex Lives of Aussie Animals: Doing It Down Under’ and (our personal fav) ‘Ukulele Meets Classic Oz Rock’. Ah, what a time to be a nerd.
The Craft & Co
If your home-cooked date repertoire ends at scrambled eggs and spaghetti Bolognese ala DOLMIO, you need The Craft & Co, probably the best place in town to brush up on culinary skills. You can master the perfect salami, make pasta like an Italian Nonna, get started on your home brew lager, sniff various gin botanicals or tackle fromage with one of the country’s best cheesemakers. Craft & Co always hire awesome local talent, so you know you’re in good hands. Classes are usually around $75, and most of them run on a monthly rotation. Book quick, they fill up fast.
The Good Copy
Do you spend sweaty nights tossing and turning over Oxford commas? Does the phrase ‘eats, shoots and leaves’ mean anything to you? If so, you’re gonna love The Good Copy, a grammar and writing workshop in Collingwood that caters to the curmudgeonly pedant in all of us. Started by a few copywriters, its now the city’s go-to for all things word-related. Grammar classes are run by Editor Penny Modra and will set you back $350 for a two-day intensive. It’s good fun, too, although prepare to be bothered forever by the words ’12 Items or Less’…
School of Life
As you’d expect from the brainiest café on Burke St, The School of Life don’t teach the most practical of classes. They’re less ‘How To Put Up A Shelf’ and more ‘How To Change The World’ (legit, that’s a class. Get back to us when you figure out the answer.) The lessons can be quiet confronting, too. How To Have A Conversation pits you with strangers and gets you to unravel each other’s deepest, darkest obsessions. Definitely a good post-work workout if you’re feeling mentally flabby. Yeah, that’s a thing…
Workshop’s motto is ‘Never Stop Learning’, which is probably a pretty good motto for life in general. Their classes have a craft-y edge, but there’s a pretty broad range on offer. Life Drawing Covert Characters (which sounds weirdly cool), Watercolour Brush Lettering, and Modern Embroidery go hand in hand with Introduction to Bonsai, Candle Making and Sourdough Basics. Personally, we’ve got our beady little eye on DIY Dumplings. Possibly the greatest DIY ever attempted. See you in class.
There’s a bit of a push these days for people to better understand where their meat comes from. And good thing too. Kids shouldn’t grow up thinking that steaks grow on trees or that chicken nuggets are delivered in the night by some twinkly-eyed magical pixie. To that end, Hagen’s Organics runs butchery classes in their Richmond store every fortnight. There’s a Beef Butchery Class (a bit of background on organic farming in Victoria and then a step-by-step breakdown for the prime cuts) and a Pork and Sausage Class (you get to take home the meat you butcher, plus a free boning knife and swish-o butcher’s apron). Vegetarians, probs give this one a wide berth.
Yarn & Co
If you’ve ever watched your grandma kitting by the fire and though, ‘Damn, that looks gangster’, Yarn & Co is here to help. They offer beginners classes in knitting and crochet (not the same thing, it turns out). The classes are intimate and personal–there are only four spots up for grabs in each–and they’re themed around specific garments. Learn how to whip up the ultimate winter scarf, crochet with your eyes closed, or make ‘granny squares’ (small patterned squares that you can turn into a quilt). At the very least, you’ll now have something to do with your hands while watching My Kitchen Rules.
YES. Our favourite Year 10 Art Class activity is back with a vengeance: making clay bowls on a wheel. Or, in our case, making amorphous clay splodges that perform no discernable function in life. But hey, it’s all in good fun. Slow Clay sits just behind Smith St in Collingwood and runs wheel classes for beginners all the way through to ‘Intensive’, which sound intense. There’s even a Clay Club for kids. Just remember the golden rule of all pottery classes: never, ever recreate the clay wheel scene from Ghost. Singing Unchained Melody, even ironically, is definitely a no-no.
Another Jack-of-all-trades class collective that offers a bit of everything. There are personal grooming workshops, courtesy of the folks at Dash, or a crash course in Christmas Table Styling. Want to make soap, sharpen hand tools, learn to weld or master urban choreography? There’s a class for you, baby. Future baristas can get their tattooed torsos down to learn the finer points of latte art and specialty coffee or tune into Origin Talk Events where coffee pros run through the heritage of various beans. Hey, whatever floats your boat. (See: Boat Floating For Beginners for more info.)
The sewing machine is as mysterious as it is useful. How does a needle going up and down somehow manage to THREAD itself through a piece of cloth? These are the questions that plague mankind. Fortunately, they can be answered at Thread Den in Fitzroy, a self-described “sewing lounge” that runs sewing, knitting and craft workshops for needle novices. Master the mystical arts of pattern drafting, or simply avoid knitting your sleeve to the table: no matter your level of skill, there’s a class to suit.
Lyceum Language Centre
There are a bunch of online apps to help you say “Pass the baguette” in Chinese, but if you really want to get fluent, there’s no shortcut for a dedicated short course (followed by an obligatory holiday). Melbourne has a few specialty language organisations for German and French, but Lyceum pretty much covers them all (well, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese and Chinese. That’s pretty much all the languages, right?) Classes range in difficulty, and there’s plenty of beginner options if you’re just getting started.
Five Senses Barista Academy
Possibly no other city on earth makes it easier to learn a good latte pour than Melbourne. It’s not too surprising since ‘Coffee’ surpassed ‘Jedi’ as the dominant religion in last year’s census. Finding a barista course isn’t hard, there are PLENTY of them around. But Five Senses (formerly the Australian Barista Academy) gets our nod for its epic building and coffee training pedigree. These guys have been around for a while, and they know their coffee. Start with Fundamentals Espresso then kick it up a notch with the mildly intimidating Advanced Espresso Extraction.
Want to work up a sweat instead? Here are Melbourne's best fitness classes (for people that hate fitness).
Image credit: The Craft & Co