Sweat It Out on the Dance Floor at These 10 Miami Nightclubs
By Priscilla Blossom
Miami Local Expert
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.
Mansion is the glittering creation of nightlife sensations, the Opium Group, who also run Prive, SET and Opium Garden. Ensconced in a former Art Deco theater, this club is as vast and conspicuous as its name. Boasting typical SoBe panache, it's dressed with grand arches, chandeliers, sweeping staircases, Venetian mirrors and ornate fireplaces, is awash in glamour, and observes a velvet-rope policy, so come dressed to impress. Inside, four dance floors thump with EDM, hip-hop, dubstep and more across three well-packed levels, and nine bars handle thirsty party-goers. Lounges and VIP areas also find plenty of traffic. Moreover, celebrities are common, the level of sociability is enormously high, and top DJs definitely spin to please. (305-695-8411)
When Miami's top DJs rock downtown, nine times out of ten you'll find them at this 11th Street hot spot; a high-octane warehouse-turned-dance club that attracts more than its share of Miami's EDM-loving crowd. In the cavernous main room, where professional DJs with names like Roland and the Lizard Man keep the party going long after sunrise, you'll find 30,000 square feet of dance space, one of Miami's loudest sound systems, and a dazzling light show. An open-air patio at the rear of the club is a prime 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)
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. Club owners pride themselves on annual renovations, often costing up to $1 billion. (305-532-0727)
Nikki Beach Miami
When the skies are clear and the vibe is good, there are few better places to dance at than Nikki Beach. In every sense, Nikki is a beach club, from its outdoor tiki bars and cabanas to its Survivor-meets-Fantasy Island decor. Awesome DJs spin top tunes constantly, and great global food makes for terrific nibbling. Plus, a never-ending parade of SoBe's famously beautiful models, society pagers and jetsetters ensures that standard goings-on never get stale. The campy vibe is irresistible, and excellent disco, lounge and dance music are certain to put you in a party mood. It's not quite as Untz Untz Untz in your face as some of SoBe's other clubs, but it's perfect for drinking and dancing under the stars. (305-538-1111)
Opened in late 2012, Story is the masterful creation of MMG, the powerhouse behind Miami's LIV. Just as posh but somewhat less crowded than its sister club, Story provides an incredible, over-the-top theatrical night club experience with wild laser light shows, beautiful dancers in all forms of dress and all the powerful house music you'll ever need. With over 60 VIP tables, it's best to come here and enjoy the full experience, complete with private tables and expensive Grey Goose bottles. While it gets busy, especially on Saturdays, you won't have trouble finding some room to move on the dance floor. Make sure to explore all three floors of the club as there's a different vibe on each. (305-538-2424)
Grand Central is the club that embraces every culture and subculture in Miami and brings them together in a room to drink and dance and have a damn good time. The place itself is a large warehouse right on the outskirts of Downtown Miami; a big, bright box right off the railroad tracks that inspired its name. Grand Central is one of Miami's most popular music venues, and has featured artists and musicians across genres, including Diplo, Yann Tiersen, Aterciopelados, Phantagram, Crystal Castles, Big Boi, Nitzer Ebb, Peaches, Black Uhuru, A Flock of Seagulls, Cypress Hill, Napalm Death, Peter Murphy, The Breeders, Black Flag, and Mogwai. Between their main room and The Garrett upstairs, they host a variety of dance nights throughout the week, usually free or for a relatively small cover, making it a haven for everyone from college kids to aging hipsters. ((305) 377-2277)
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 rec-room aesthetic and you'll immediately think you've entered your best friend's basement circa 1975: think lava lamps, funky chairs and assorted old-school board games. Play some checkers, backgammon, or even good ole round of Connect Four as you enjoy a pleasant mix of some of the best music in Miami and some of the lowest drink prices in all of SoBe. (305-531-4622)
Mango's Tropical Café
A sultry island experience awaits visitors to this dance club's lively 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 patrons to the dance floor to move along with the professionals. 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
Small, cozy and the epicenter of Latin music in Miami, Hoy Como Ayer brings past and present together beautifully inside its lively locale in Little Havana. Its name translates as "today as yesterday," and from the photos of legendary singers to Fuacata! (a weekly event that merges traditional tunes with electronic effects), the idea is at the club's forefront. The music's authenticity and high quality often 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 fondly recall Cuba, and a brief menu of Latin foods maintains the pleasurable theme. (305-541-2631, 866-541-2631)
Liv @ Fontainebleau Miami Beach
While the Fountainbleau remains one of the more beautiful and prestigious 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 pure 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 $6 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). (305-538-2000)
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.
Read more about Priscilla Blossom here.