Hit the Dance Clubs in Montreal, Canada's Top Party City
By Sherel Purcell
Montréal Local Expert
This list of Montreal's top party places addresses the diversity that is Montreal. Already famous for her up and coming indie talents, Montreal also caters to a variety of musical tastes, age groups and sexual orientations without being exclusionary. No money? No problem. In many of these venues, if it’s before 11 pm and you haven’t got the $5-$12 cover charge, hang around until the door person invites you in. Standing at the bar is another option for the cash-challenged too.
Top DJs and musicians love playing and spinning their tunes at a variety of clubs around Montreal. The Plateau's le Belmont and downtwon Stéréo attract some of the best DJs on the international and local scene. Some of the best dance clubs are found in the Gay Village where Club Unity and Complexe Sky offers phenomenal dance music as well as cabaret shows with a twist. Whether its disco at FunkyTown, electronic fare at Foufone Electrique or Latino beats at Salsathèque, 10Best will show you where to get your groove on and dance the night away. After all, it's the music and party scenes that have been attracting visitors to this hip and lively city since the early days of travel and tourism.
The booming Belmont, sitting at party central near St. Laurent and Mont Royal, tries to be all things to all people and it succeeds. One wall, covered in large beer logos speaks to its student dive bar past while another, with a cool graffiti motif speaks to its present reincarnation as a hip underground club. Either way, the mixed crowd appreciates the specially-designed spaces perfectly suited for both dancing and drinking. Techno parties, burlesque cabarets, good bands and live DJs played over a good sound system keep the crowds coming back. It's usually free before 11 pm and drink specials are offered most nights. ((514) 845-8443)
As if four floors of party fun weren't enough, the Complexe Sky also features a rooftop pool, spa and mini restaurant to compliment the main floor offerings. It's become THE destination nightclub for the gay community from Montréal and beyond. The party grows more intense the higher you climb until you reach the relative calm of the rooftop. On the first floor, grab a drink or a snack at the relatively calm restaurant/bar or head up to the second floor for the drag cabaret dinner show. Dance fanatics head to the third floor to check out the huge dance space and ear-splitting music. (514-529-6969)
Looking to re-live those golden days of disco? Newly renovated FunkyTown puts to rest those rumours of the demise of disco. It goes without saying the crowd is a bit long in the tooth but it's still a fun place to kick back and strut your stuff to the music you grew up with. It's all here: the lit up checkerboard dance floor, velvet walls and the sparkling disco ball. Once a week the music moves away from the supper sounds of the 70s and 80s all the way back to the 60s. Old sounds reproduce well though on the state-of-the-art sound and lighting equipment. (514-282-8387)
Club Unity (Unity II)
A fun and happening primarily gay bar in the heart of - you guessed it - Montreal's Gay Village.One of the biggest dance venues in the city with multi-level dance floors, attracts a diverse crowd. Watch for the drag queens walking about who will pour a shot directly into your mouth upon request.The three floors offer different styles of music every night in a friendly and open environment. Two gigantic dance floors offer powerful sound systems where the best DJs from around the world come to spin. Need a break? Head to the rooftop terrace or enjoy the cabaret and drag shows. (514-523-2777)
Montreal's oldest salsa club is a real tribute to French Canada's long-standing love affair with all things Latin. Host to surprise visits by Arcade Fire,it's the spot to see and be seen. Neon lights, disco balls, giant palm trees and a range of Latin beats - salsa, merengue and bachata tell you you're in the right place. Some nights are devoted to top-40 beats to change up the fun. Even if you don't dance (what!) you can watch some of the pros performing in the dance contests or enjoy the big bands playing their Latin tunes while sipping tropical drink specials. You can even get dance lessons from some of the friendly regulars. (514-875-0016)
Stereo is hot on the international club scene with DJs and musicians who come for its true, old school sound system and blasting house in all it's glorious forms.The place was specially built for dancing featuring acoustic walls within walls and a dance floor on springs and shock absorbers to keep your legs and feet moving for hours. It's also a bar and after hours club. One of the best places to come and hear DJs from around the globe spin their tunes and meet up with other party people from all over Montreal who've spent the earlier hours in various other venues. The true early morning after party place. (514-658-2646)
Thursdays has recently renovated all 24,000 square feet inside and out but it's still connected by tunnel to the Hotel de la Montagne. Given its central location on the predominantly English side of town, Thursday's attracts a diverse crowd. Even though the patrons are a bit older than at other dance clubs and it is a great place to meet people. This popular spot caters to the urban foodie, the bar fly and the dance fiend. The outside patio offers great city views too. Thursday and Friday evenings feature live DJs at the bar and an updated and expanded wine list as the business is handed over from father to son. (514-288-5656)
Le Divan Orange
Le Divan Orange - The Orange Sofa - speaks to the trendy decor of this huge space divided into comfy seating sections leading into a bar area and a stage at the back. It's an inviting space with an equally inviting atmosphere. The food menu is excellent, with nachos, upscale sandwiches and salads, and some non-standard bar eats. The nightly live music sessions vary from indie musicians, blues and rock groups, singer-songwriters, local funk bands and even choirs and hip-hop acts. The crowd varies depending on what's scheduled, but the vibe is always comfortable and very inviting, with a good variety of specialty drinks and local beers. (514-840-9090)
Most people go to the Tokyo Bar for the great dancing compliments of top DJs as it's a dance club without the dance club attitude - just high energy dancing. Best to go on summer evenings to check out the views of St. Laurent from the back patio. - In winter when this area is closed, it gets even more crowded especially in the red room. Best to get here before midnight. Low cover and coat check charge, tasty lychee martinis and the trance techno room all contribute to the party atmoshpere set in motion by the best DJs in town. (514-842-6838)
The giant spider sculpture climbing the exterior wall on Ste. Catherine Street lets you know you're in the right place. Foufones is a truly versatile space - equally good for checking out the Montreal scene over a late summer afternoon drink on the uber cool patio or the perfect spot to check out top name bands at a reasonable price that cater to a diverse crowd of punk, metal and electronica fans. Everyone comes for the great vibe and powerful sound system. For those looking to chill a bit, the three-floor sprawling space includes a downstairs bar and pool tables. (514-844-5539)
About Sherel Purcell
Sherel Purcell is a travel writer who specializes in golf, Montreal and Quebec, golf, contemporary art, cycling and food and wine. Her articles appear on USA Today's 10Best, About.com, Aol, Matador, Vacay, Travel+Escape and other large sites as well as print magazines including Dreamscapes (Globe and Mail) and Frommer's Budget Travel. Her travel photos have appeared in the video, "A New York Minute" on the Smithsonian website and she has recently sold 20 of her travel photographs to Brand USA. She has received an editorial award from Parenting Publications of America and a nomination from "See America".
Read more about Sherel Purcell here.