Few pursuits tap into the pleasures of nightlife more than dancing. Giving yourself over to the rhythms, the lights, and the energy is a total release. When you want that feeling, look into this list to find the best dance clubs in Miami. World-renowned (or just plain amazing and local) DJs get the crowds moving, and other patrons ensure that there's plenty to see along the way.
To follow the crowds, head to Club Space and see what all of Miami has experienced at least once before. If you're looking for something with a more tropical flavor, check out Mango's right on Ocean Drive. It's the type of place you've seen in tourism commercials for South Beach, full of color and professional dancers and salsa and cha cha cha.
If you want the full-on SoBe celebrity treatment, you'll have to make your way to a place like Story or LIV. Both of these have had the likes of P.Diddy, Jay-Z and Brittney Spears in their midst. These are the tough to breach velvet rope-type joints that will not allow you to walk in if you just stepped out of the ocean (unless of course you're supermodel Giselle Bundchen).
Places like Purdy Lounge and Grand Central bring dance club nights to the more laid back hipster masses of Miami. And if you're looking for a truly unforgettable but wholly unpretentious good dance time, there's nothing quite like Hoy Como Ayer in Little Havana.
House came out of nowhere one day, simply starting with a campaign that invited partygoers to apply for a key to a "house party." Then guests began to arrive to this slightly off the beaten path club and, after giving a password, were granted admittance to have one of the best times out in Miami. The staff really know how to engage the house guests. Each room is done up in a unique style, and the acoustics in each are perfect for the EDM, techno, and other dance tunes that blare through the house. Drink prices are standard for a Downtown or SoBe club, so be prepared to pay a little extra. All in all, though, worth it. ((855) 694-6893)
When Miami's hottest DJs hit Downtown Miami, you'll almost always find them at this legendary locale that's always a hit with the EDM-loving crowd. In the main room, where professional DJs with names like Roland and the Lizard Man keep the party going long after dawn, you'll find some 30,000 square feet of dance space, one of Miami's loudest sound systems, and a spectacular light show that keeps many of its guests perpetually mesmerized. An open-air patio at the rear of the club is the perfect place to catch a little fresh air, escape from the music, and enjoy some chitchat with your most recent dancing partner. (305-375-0001, 305-372-9378)
Live music, album/CD release parties, DJ bashes and other activities of a musical nature await at this hip Wynwood lounge. Bardot fills a void in Miami culture by providing the venue and the menu, which includes funk, electronic, blues, singer-songwriter and more. Cocktails--at $12, less expensive than most South Beach bars and lounges (that means affordable by Miami standards) range from the signature Honey Mule (Russian Standard Vodka, Honey Syrup, Pressed Lime & Hand Crafted Ginger Served in our Signature Copper Mug) to the Skinny Jeans Margarita (Corzo Silver Tequila, Cointreau, Organic Blue Agave & Fresh Lime Juice) to the simple Brown Sugar Mojito (Bacardi dark, Brown Sugar). Overall, even if you're not into the vibe of a particular musical guest, the experience at Bardot has come to define Miami's Wynwood and Design District nightlife. ((305) 576-5570)
Avoid the crowds on Ocean Drive and head to Purdy Lounge, an off-the-beaten-path night club with a loyal following. If the glitzy South Beach-and-Downtown club scene grows old or if you are simply not in the mood for the usual nocturnal fray, Purdy's is the place to turn to. The lounge has an appealing retro-inspired rec-room aesthetic and you'll immediately think you've entered your best friend's basement circa 1975, complete with lava lamps, funky chairs and old-school board games. But if it's dancing that you're after, there's plenty of that going on, especially late into the night as the drinks flow freely and the beats get better and better. (305-531-4622)
Located in South Beach, the uber-upscale Mynt Lounge is a staple among Miami dance clubs with a reputation for attracting high rollers and celebrity elite. Those fortunate enough to get in (either by meeting their criteria of "elegance, chic, and a winning smile" or by being friends with Paris Hilton), will enjoy well-known DJs spinning house and hip-hop tunes that are sure to get you on the dance floor and a lack of in-your-face paparazzi who are quickly shown the door if they somehow get in. One interesting tidbit: Mynt features an aromatherapy system which infuses the air with a variety of scents – mint, of course, remains the hands-down favorite. The Grand Lounge, complete with a 40-foot bar, is open to all, but the Plexiglas-shrouded Ultra Lounge is reserved for special attendees. (305-532-0727)
Mango's Tropical Café
A unique Miami experience awaits visitors to this dance club's spirited location in the heart of South Beach. Situated on the waterfront right on Ocean Drive, Mango's Tropical Café offers a Havana heyday-style party where Latin tunes and live bands lure locals and patrons alike to the dance floor. There's dinner and a show happening here nightly, and crowds often gather from across the street to catch a glimpse of the dancers and theatrics. Entertainment includes everything from Salsa and Conga shows to a Michael Jackson "Thriller" tribute performance. Naturally made mojitos and daiquiris help guests cool off between songs. (305-673-4422)
Hoy Como Ayer
At the epicenter of Latin culture in Miami, Hoy Como Ayer blends past and present together beautifully inside its lively locale in the heart of Little Havana. Its name translates to "today, as yesterday," and from the photos of classic singers lining the walls to contemporary latin tunes vibrating the walls, the concept is at the club's core. The music's authenticity and high quality instantly provoke dancing, whether it's salsa, rumba, cha cha, or however else your body moves you; and big-name vocalists have been known to make surprise appearances. In addition, perfectly mixed mojitos and a brief menu of Latin bites round out the experience. (305-541-2631, 866-541-2631)
Liv @ Fontainebleau Miami Beach
While the Fountainbleau remains one of the most breathtakingly luxurious hotels in all of Miami, it's not surprising that LIV, the hot-to-trot nightclub held within, is also one of Miami's crown jewels for an evening of dancing in decadence. LIV is all velvet rope and VIP and Gucci and Prada and bottle service. It's not the place to go in jeans and a t-shirt hoping for a free shot of Jameson to go with your $5 beer. It is the place to go if your Manolo Blahnik's finally arrived and you've got the need to show them off while hoping to rub elbows with Kim Kardashian, Alex Rodriguez, Kate Hudson, or Jay-Z (all previous guests of the establishment). ((305) 674-4680)
The Electric Pickle opened up well over a decade ago, and unlike many of the surrounding places that have come and gone, this hip joint doesn't appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. The Pickle is a music and dance lover's dream. 300 audiophiles fit well within its 2 rooms, and spill out over into their back patio, allowing for 3 different ambiances on any given night. The crowd here is always lively, the tunes are always on point and you'll often catch acts here that are on the verge of blowing up. This is definitely the type of place to take your girlfriends out for a night of dancing, a place to meet new dance partners, a place to lose yourself in the music. ((305) 456-5613)
Ball & Chain
The original Ball & Chain opened in 1935, when Calle Ocho was simply known as the Tamiami Trail, through which farmers would send oranges and other crops east to the Downtown Miami area. It has survived decades of reinvention, calling itself at one time the Ball & Chain Tavern, and serving as a venue for legendary performers like Billie Holiday and Chet Baker. These days, the Ball & Chain is once again serving as a live music and dance venue, with a full bar, a fine drink menu, and tapas for when the mood strikes. While they're still just starting out, there's no doubt that larger acts will be hitting the stage here in no time. (305-643-7820)
About Priscilla Blossom
Pris Blossom is a freelance writer and feminist mama with a love for travel, writing, music, film, craft beer, yoga, museums, cultural anthropology, and her awesome kid.
She spent the bulk of the past decade taking trips on a whim, falling in love with and in such places as New York City, New Orleans, and a large portion of Nicaragua.
In 2011, she took off on her own and traveled around the U.S. via bus, bunking with strangers thanks to the power of CouchSurfing. She is currently writing a novel about this.
Read her words at PrisBlossom.com.
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