If you’re looking for the big-city nightclub experience, you won’t find it in Key West. Long lines, VIP rooms and exorbitant cover charges, don’t really fit into the laid-back island’s DNA. Instead, you’ll find a more organic approach from couples doing the salsa on Mallory Square at El Meson de Pepe to tourists kicking it with the drag queens at 801 Bourbon.
Live music is a mainstay at most bars and restaurants, so if the mood hits you, it’s perfectly acceptable to shimmy and shake wherever you are. Late in the night, spots like Sloppy Joe’s and Green Parrot clear the tables to make room for a dance floor. “The Parrot” is famous for bringing in the best bands from around the country for a heady mix of gritty blues, rock and funk. At the classy martini bar, Virgilio’s, the well-groomed hit the outdoor dance floor for live music--usually jazz, blues or Latin.
The vibrant LGBT scene offers the closest thing you’ll find to a traditional dance club at Aqua and Bourbon Street Pub, albeit with an outside tiki bar and male go-go dancers. DJs at Rick’s Upstairs and Fat Tuesday ramp up the beats for a younger crowd, who are fueled by an intoxicating blend of strong drinks and hormones. Here are the ten best places to dance like nobody’s watching in Key West.