10 Best 18+ Orlando Clubs: Where The Underage Go To Rage
By A.D. Thompson
Orlando Local Expert
The wonderful world of nightlife opens its doors when you're 18. But not all of it. So it's important to do your due diligence before making plans for the night. Orlando has a considerable number of dance/club venues that welcome the under-21 crowd. Some are always 18+, others only on certain nights and if you're new to the club scene it's best to learn early that the rules change often, as new venues spring up and close down all the time. Do your research before making the drive. That said, the City Beautiful offers many dance dens -- from small and intimate to loud and pumping, gay and straight -- in which to see and be seen with friends old enough to drink and those among you who, for now at least, are the mandatory designated drivers. Some on the list, like Firestone Live, offer live music some nights (some show are even all-ages) with dance nights of 18+. Favorites like the Independent and Backbooth are popular with a wide demographic, spinning 80s, alternative, dance -- the whole jukebox -- while the Roxy and Suite B gear more toward pro-DJ-spun dance parties. Pulse caters to the LGBT scene -- and the straight people who love them, of course -- and is 18+ nightly. Check their website for nightly themes or specials -- college, Latin, live performance -- offering runs the gamut.
8 The Beacham
The Beacham began its life in the 1920s as a showcase for vaudevillians. These days, following some extensive and relatively recent renovations that preserve its character, it does double-duty as a live music venue and dance club, featuring both national touring acts and DJs alike. House music fans will be happy to know that the likes of Tiesto and David Guetta have entertained the dancing throngs inside this historic building. The Beacham and the Social -- one of Orlando's premier live-music venues -- share space on occasion; Wednesday nights you'll get two clubs for one price. Saturday's at the Beacham night club you'll hear Top 40, dance, hip-hop and old school all night long. (407-648-8363)
With three levels and the most square footage of any downtown Orlando nightclub, Vain caters to a big 'ol crowd of predominantly young 20somethings, though it's open to partiers 18 and up. Each night brings something new, from "Work Hard, Play Harder" Tuesdays to Thursday's Ladies' Night with DJ Chizzle(there's no cover for the ladies and free drinks for those of you 21 and over 'til midnight) to Saturday's Xcess party featuring well known spinners including DJ Noodles, DJ Skream and DJ Nice. Like many of Orlando's clubs, VIP tables and bottle service is available; check their website for details. ((407) 318-4668)
6 Firestone Live
Since its creation in 1993, Firestone Live (formerly known as Club Firestone) has hosted acts like Weezer, Portishead, Animal Collective, Girl Talk, Justice, LMFAO, Hank III, Morphine, Bloc Party, Cut Copy, Spoon, Conor Oberst, Snoop Dogg, Paul Oakenfold, Knife Party, Wiz Khalifa & much more. These days, they still cater to all ages -- though not all nights, so check their website for information on whether the event in question is all ages, 18+ or otherwise -- offering scintillating club nights in the form of IGNITIONORLANDO (a weekly music festival), FRIDAYSATFIRESTONE (Latin night) and SUPERSMASHSUNDAYS (capping off the week with hip-hop all night long). Firestone Lives hosts DJs and all kinds of music acts from punk to electronic so be sure that what's going on is your flavor before showing or just come with an open mind and have fun! (407-872-0066)
5 Cowboys Orlando
Dance club don't just mean house music, y'all. Cowboys Orlando has been bringing country music to town for a good, long while, open Thursday through Saturday and featuring everything from live local and national music acts to state-of-the-art sound and lighting and more than 30 TVs on which to get your NASCAR (among other things) on. Oh, and one other thing: it's huge, a C&W entertainment complex comprised of rought 20,000 square feet. All the better for line dancing! And if your Boot Scoot's not what it should be, fear not: this nightclub offers free lessons every night for cowboys and cowgirls aged 18 and up. (407-422-7115)
4 Suite B Lounge
With well known local and national DJs spinning and a location in the heart of downtown Orlando, Suite B caters to lovers of house, techno, breaks and Top 40 and is open to club-goers 18 and up on a nightly basis. Its fans enjoy the beats but give extra points to drink specials and a nod for good use of space. Suite B could be called intimate, especially when compared with cavernous clubs like the Roxy, but seems to make the place work. Crowds do come, but most say the place rarely feels overstuffed, whether hanging out with friends on the couches or out dancing on the floor. ((407) 246-1750)
3 Pulse Orlando
Pulse is an apt name for a club that keeps its finger on the rhythm of what Orlando club-goers want, whether that means sleek decor, hot-bodied bar dancers, drag divas or the simple joys of similarly minded potential dance partners you might want to crush up against. Pulse's scene is largely gay, but all comers are welcome. Check the schedule before heading out if you're picky about what's spinning or who's coming; some nights lean hip-hip or house, R&B or Top 40, some nights are 21+, others 18 and over. Also on tap here, regular drink specials (these include $3 martinis, $1 shots, $2 Long Islands and even blocks of freebies), regular drag shows and even karaoke. ((407) 649-3888)
With a darkish, pub-like atmosphere, popular Saturday "Midnight Mass" dance party (the DJ spins indie, Motown, pop and more) and a stage that hosts national and regional live acts from roots to metal, Irish to hip-hop, blues to surf rock and beyond, Backbooth remains an eclectic player in Orlando's downtown club scene without the "sceney" atmosphere, a reason many of its proponents say the place rocks. Fancy it is not: a plus for music lovers who like to jam out and/or dance in their favorite thrift-store tee. The flip side? Those with a penchant for exceptionally clean bathrooms or an expensive-shoe habit may find themselves disappointed. Or out a pair of Louboutins on an exceptionally crowded night. (407-999-2570)
1 Independent Bar
Vintage rock to top 40, indie to 80s new wave, the Independent Bar hits that sweet spot between dance club and dive bar, a place where patrons are welcome to dress to impress or roll in in Chucks and ripped jeans. Seriously man, no one's looking, so relax. Multiple bars make getting drinks a non-issue and a friendly atmosphere makes for a relaxing, no-stress night of dancing and people-watching; patrons might be yuppies or rockers, goths or indie hipsters, it really is that eclectic. In fact, it's even 18+. Special nights like Wednesday night "Mac & Cheese" (DJ Mac spins the cheesiest music mix) are ever-evolving, but always indicative of the venue's convivial vibe. Well specials and cheap beer are essentially a given. (407-839-0457)
About A.D. Thompson
A.D. Thompson has spent more than 20 years as a professional writer and roughly 15 as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum. A roller coaster enthusiast, A.D. readily admits there is fun to be had amid the madness of the theme parks, but has found there is magic, as well, in the outer-lying reaches of Mickey’s long shadow. She is delighted to share with you the spoils of her adopted city. Visit her colorful compendium at www.amydrewthompson.com.
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