Hot spots for dancing the New Orleans night away

By Beth D'Addono, New Orleans Local Expert

New Orleans is transformed when the sun goes down. Though people have just as much fun in the sunshine, it's not until the moon rises and the cocktails start to flow that The Big Easy really comes into its own.

Although live music is what most people want to hear when they come to town - it's the life force that oxygenates the culture and traditions in the city where jazz was born -  there is also a dance club scene if underground, EDM or house music is more your cup of boogie.  New Orleans has all the bases covered, whether it's on Bourbon, Frenchmen or at one of the larger club venues in the Warehouse District, a developing area frequented by young professionals.

The proximity of all these great venues, whether lined up along infamous Bourbon Street on along happening Frenchmen Street makes nightlife easily accessible no matter where you're staying. There are a cluster of clubs in each 'hood, so once you get yourself there, simply hop from place to place to sample what the city's night club scene has to offer.

When you are in New Orleans, it's all about having fun.  Any of these spots will jump start your nights, New Orleans style.

10. The Metropolitan Nightclub
Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Night Club

Another warehouse dance destination, The Metropolitan Club is the premier video DJ dance establishment in town. The intricate lighting and smoke machines set the mood powered by a thumbing bass beat that never stops. The music offerings include top 40,hip hop, mash ups, rock and pop in one room with house, techno, dub and breaks in another. Flat screen TVs line the walls, so the dancers can follow the DJ from any spot on the floor. Table service and valet parking is available. a Unlike most clubs where one finds it hard to muscle through the crowds to get a drink, The Metro features 11 bar stations happy to pour.

9. Goldmine Saloon
Photo courtesy of griff le riff

Locally owned and operated, the Gold Mine Saloon has been a family business serving New Orleans since 1983. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, it has traditionally been a favorite of locals and tourists for late night dancing and great drink prices. Gold Mine Saloon is close enough to Bourbon Street to draw crowds for good dance music and flaming Dr. Pepper shots, which the club claims to have invented. The Gold Mine typically has a younger rambunctious crowd. Be prepared to grind, shimmy and shake the night away to one of the venue's killer DJs. In between 30 minute dance sessions, you can slink away and play pool or one of their retro 80's arcade machines.

8. Bourbon Heat
Photo courtesy of Bourbon Heat

Bourbon Heat is one of a hot spot on BOurbon, earning high marks for its happy hour and courtyard setting. The club portion is on the second level of the building, where you will find partiers of all stripes getting down on the dance floor. As soon as you hit the top step, you will hear the music bumping from either live or video DJs. The lights shine and smoke billows on the patrons as they dance away to their new and old faves. Take a break from the action out on the balcony, where you can overlook the Bourbon Street traffic while you catch your breath.

7. Cat's Meow
Photo courtesy of Cat's Meow

Right up the road from the infamous Pat O'Brien's you'll find the nearly as famous Cat's Meow. This Bourbon Street night club is known for its ridiculously good karaoke scene and great 3-for-1 happy hour drink specials. Rumor has it that The Smashing Pumpkins and Bill Gates have belted out a few of their favorites here, much to the dancing crowd's delight. The action is of the "all night" variety, as the Cat's Meow stays loud and packed until the wee hours of the morning. Whether you want to be the main event on stage singing your favorite karaoke song, or dancing along with your friends to the great Cat's Meow DJs, there is fun for everyone here.

6. Ampersand
Photo courtesy of Cat's Meow

Club Ampersand is built into an old bank in the Central Business District of New Orleans. Ampersand takes the decor of The Metropolitan and The Republic up a couple notches, getting a bit classier with a Euro/South Beach flair. Sprawling couches line the walls for VIP members and post dance mingling. Their DJs blare Top 40, house and mash-ups among other genres, keeping party-goers up til 6 and 7 in the morning. Resident mixologists craft up some delicious liquor drinks, and shot/beer specials can be had depending on the night. If you are in town for the Super Bowl or other major event, consider renting out Club Ampersand for your private party. Nicholas Cage did.

5. The Beach on Bourbon
Photo courtesy of Beach on Bourbon

The Beach on Bourbon is also kind of new, and boy does it get wild. You walk in through a kind of narrow walkway, where you can't tell if you are still outside or inside (it's actually an air conditioned courtyard). When you finally make your way to the back, you are immersed in a beach aura with tons of people dancing on what they claim is the largest dance floor on Bourbon. Everything is beach themed here, from the decor to the drinks (you will see a lot of girls drinking out of fish bowls). The main draw is the mechanical killer whale that rests front stage adjacent to the DJ.

4. Bourbon Pub and Parade
Photo courtesy of Bourbon Pub and Parade

Bourbon Pub and Parade is located in the cluster of gay bars heading into the residential end of Bourbon. The venue is know for its male go-go dancers prancing around the bars, regular karaoke and spacious balcony for people watching. There usually is a cover, but the bar makes up for it by having a friendly staff that does its best to make each and every patron feel welcome. Although mostly a boy bar, Bourbon Pub and Parade welcomes all partiers and the dance floor is usually packed with a mix of customers, from bachelorette partiers to tourists and couples.

3. Blue Nile
Photo courtesy of Blue Nile

Bourbon Street is where the tourists go, but Frenchmen Street is the spot if you want to experience some real New Orleans nightlife. Blue Nile is a Frenchmen Street nightclub housed in one of the oldest buildings on the famed rue (1832). The club consistently draws some of the best local and nationally touring musical acts, and offers a full bar to help ease their patrons into a night. The blue and gold interior sets a mellow vibe, making transitioning from business to pleasure rather simple. The establishment features entertainment on two floors, including an upstairs balcony which looks out over Frenchmen.

2. The Maison
Photo courtesy of The Maison

The Maison is a popular nightclub on historic Frenchmen Street in New Orleans. Frenchmen Street is known for its great music and nightlife and The Maison offers some of the street's best live music and dancing opps. For the early birds, live performances start as early as 4 pm on the weekend and around 5 pm the rest of the week - usually accompanied by drink specials. At night, local brass and funk bands rock the house. The venue has three stages, offering multiple options to catch local talent. There is rarely a cover at The Maison, so feel free to wander here late night when you're ready to get down.

1. Republic New Orleans

The Republic is a massive dance club located in the Warehouse district in an actual warehouse space that dates to 1852. Just eight blocks outside the Canal Street end of the French Quarter, this historic space is carved into three distinct clubs, the main dance club on the ground level, the upstairs mezzanine and the intimate Green Room, great for a cozy private event. Giant chandeliers hang from the ceiling of the warehouse space, while party goers below dance endlessly to DJs and live music. The Republic has bars on both sides of the floor to keep the mood loose. The crowd tends to skew younger so expect lots of energy on the dance floor.