Dance the Night Away in the ATL
By Kelly Skinner
Atlanta Local Expert
It's a Friday night and your work week was a complete snooze. Did someone say a dance party is in store?
If you're looking for a place that mixes glamour with a bumping crowd, you need not look further than Midtown, where several of the area's largest, highest-end dance clubs congregate. Dressing for the party is imperative at these places, so look your best, particularly if you're hoping to meet someone single (which you probably will). Reign, Vanquish, Halo and Opera all keep the party hopping and the entry line full.
The beautiful people are regulars in Buckhead at Tongue and Groove and Havana Club. Both are located in prime locations teeming with excellent restaurants. So you can certainly stick around the same area for the evening if you'd like.
Less upscale options can be found in underground dance clubs frequented by young hipsters and an edgier crowd at Poncey Highlands dive, MJQ.
Additional dancing awaits at area restaurants with a rollicking spirit. Buckhead's Taverna Plaka is a Greek dining (and dancing!) experience unlike anything else in Atlanta. Ending dinner by dancing on the table is par for the course.
10 Taverna Plaka
Gyros with a side of belly dancing? Afraid so. This fun-loving Greek restaurant off of Cheshire Bridge (near high-end Woodfire Grill) caters to a party-going crowd with a love for good Greek food in a raucous atmosphere. Bring a group of friends to eat and you'll be encouraged to get up for the occasional dance train around the room. Throwing napkins in the air is a big thing (do that a lot if you don't know what else to do). And don't be surprised if your server or one of the belly dancers steps onto your table and starts dancing. After dinner, you'll be encouraged to do the same. (4046362284)
9 East Andrews Neighborhood Bar
This longstanding Buckhead entertainment complex seems to be constantly adding new restaurants and bars to its line-up. Take in the arctic environs and dine on sushi at Czar Bar (where "ice" takes on a whole new cool), imbibe on old-school cocktails at the speakeasy-themed Prohibition, laugh at comedy hopefuls at the Improv Comedy Club, shake your groove thing at Andrews Upstairs and dine on craft burgers at Stillhouse. On top of regular weekend merriment, the complex regularly plays host to a range of special events. Latin Elegance Wednesdays (featuring free salsa lessons) are a weekly affair, and various sports and holiday-themed kick-off parties draw big crowds. Go with a group and make a night out of it. (404-869-1132)
8 MJQ Concourse
One of the longest running clubs in Atlanta, MJQ Concourse takes the word "underground" to an entirely new level. The club is actually entirely underground. There's no website and most find out about it through a friend. Unassuming to a passerby, you'd never know that the entrance was the gateway to one of the most popular dance clubs in the city. Open late at night, it is just as popular on weeknights as weekends. Patrons here come to enjoy themselves and dance and listen to talented DJs do their thing. Dress is casual and the vibe is far from upscale. Music is wide-ranging and varies according to the night. (404-870-0575)
7 Halo Lounge
This posh nightclub attracts a young Midtown crowd looking to mix, mingle and cut a rug while in the heart of Midtown. The night club has an expansive signature drink menu, top-notch DJs and two bars. Enjoy the beautiful backlit onyx main bar, which changes color, and sets the easy-going mood. The music is a variety of house, lounge and dance music. The vibe is better late at night, after eleven, which is when it gets busier. Tables can be reserved for large parties. Like others on the list, Atlanta takes going out seriously, so you'll want to bring your "A" game when you dress for the night out. (404-962-7333)
6 Havana Club
You don't have to leave Atlanta to visit Cuba. This upscale Buckhead venue boasts 15,000 square feet of space and with three distinct rooms, each with its own unique ambiance, each trying to capture the essence of Havana. The largest room, Stage, features a bevy of music varieties and VIP cabanas. If it is a taste of Havana you seek, visit Studio, which features salsa and Mergegue tunes sure to get your feet tapping. Gallery pumps out great tunes but certainly caters to special events like private parties or exhibits. Cigar aficionados will appreciate the cedar-wood humidor stocking rare and exotic cigars. (404-869-8484)
5 Tongue and Groove
Open for close to two decades, this sophisticated nightspot draws Atlanta's beautiful people looking for a place to tear up the dance floor. The 8,600-square-foot space is located in Buckhead's Lindbergh Center and offers plenty of options for parking. There are two large rooms, one with a balcony overlooking a large dance floor. The good thing about the two separate rooms is the different music: Top 40 in one and house / hip hop in the other. There are also enclaves that can be reserved for ultra-VIP treatment. It is relatively easy to get a drink as there are numerous bars in the club. Take note of the website for various special events and drink specials (404-261-2325)
This is one of the more upscale (read: expensive) clubs in Atlanta and has attractive digs to match. Club-goers arrive later in the evening, closer to midnight, so don't rush to get there. Save your feet and kick back with a leisurely dinner beforehand at one of Midtown's fabulous restaurants before bringing your moves to the dance floor. Bartenders make tasty cocktails and aren't afraid to make 'em strong. There is a large bar with quick service and VIP tables are scattered throughout with a good view of the dance floor. Saturday nights are usually a bit more crowded than Fridays. ((404) 898-1704)
3 Lava Lounge
One of the trendiest nightclubs in Atlanta, Lava Lounge or CosmoLava, combines two clubs in one: Cosmopolitan bar and Lava Lounge. The two are connected by an outdoor deck. Cosmo is more upscale with dark wood and swanky sofas. Lava has a lava-surfaced bar and a cozy lounge area. The dance floor, located on the lower level, streams the latest house and industrial beats. Other rooms play a wide range of musical genres like '80s or hip-hop. Club-goers lean young and linger by the bar to sip on house cocktails while taking a break from dancing. Service at the bar is quick and bartenders are friendly. (404-873-6189)
This glitzy Midtown club attracts a beautiful clientele and has been known to bring in its fair share of celebrities. The chandeliers, fine paintings and other upscale furnishings (like crocodile leather booths) exude an over-the-top vibe that aids to Vanquish's posh, overall appeal. There are private booths as well as three bars and an ever-changing line-up of visiting DJs. Each night seems to attract a different crowd, and, given the spaciousness of the club, it's also a popular spot for corporations and businesses to throw private parties. Every week marks different special events and drink specials so keep tabs on the website. ((404) 898-1704)
1 Opera Nightclub
There's always a crowd waiting to get into Midtown nightclub, Opera, and with good reason. The place boasts an extensive space for dancing, drinking and debauchery. An enormous dance floor beneath a spectacular 100-foot domed ceiling is where revelers get down. Many of the tables here must be reserved and can get pricey. This trendy nightclub doesn't end the luxury there but also boasts a lavish outdoor pool and lounge area. Themed nights and regularly visiting DJs and ladies nights add extra incentive to visit. Avoid crazy long lines and sign up for the rsvp list online before heading out. (404-874-3006)
About Kelly Skinner
Kelly Skinner comes to Atlanta by way of sunny coastal city, Pensacola, FL. A lover of all things food, music and travel, Skinner found her perfect match in Atlanta in the food-centric hub of Decatur. A full-time freelance writer and editor, Skinner's byline has appeared in a range of publications including Paste, The Atlantan, Jezebel, Redbook, South and Living Intown. When she's not writing, editing and exploring Atlanta for the best places to eat, drink and play, Skinner loves doing yoga, running with her dog in Piedmont Park and scouring book stores and record shops for hidden treasures.
Read more about Kelly Skinner here.