Nightlife can take many forms, but for New Yorkers and visitors looking to let off a little steam, nothing quite does the job like a night of dancing. While the city’s mega dance clubs used to be synonymous with Manhattan, recent years have given rise to a new kind of club that’s happy to call Brooklyn home.
Williamsburg clubs like Output, with their lack of velvet ropes and seriously dirty sound systems draw crowds more interested in Carl Cox and Royksopp than Kanye West and Deadmau5.
Or what about outlier Mehanata, a Lower East Side gem that's often unfairly overlooked even though it has the energy, soul and funk to lift you right off their basement stripper pole and on to the wild and rowdy dance floor?
But before we get too far off the beaten path, rest assured that those of you looking for the ultimate VIP experience won't be disappointed with what you'll find below. The new kids on the block may be stealing some thunder, but Manhattan’s club scene still reigns supreme at places like Provocateur, where you can just as easily groove the night away as spend the evening gawking at celebrity royalty. Not that you’d want to do that anyway, right? No, you came to dance.
The Jane Hotel
There's dance parties in Manhattan. And then there's the Sunday night dance party in The Ballroom of the Jane Hotel. Now home to one of the hottest parties in town, this spot used to be a haven for sailors looking for a place to rest their weary bones. There's very little rest actually taking place here on the weekends, as The Jane swings opens its doors for the dance party of the week. From high-fashion models dancing on tables to tech superstars throwing back vodka martinis, The Jane Hotel caters to a youthful crowd looking for a good time. Keep in mind that you're in New York, so even on Sundays, the party starts late. Don't arrive too early. (212-924-6700)
Lavo's DJs mash up hip-hop, pop, house and EDM to create an atmosphere that's excessively over the top in the best possible way. Not at all for the faint of heart, don't be surprised when you're swept up into the chaos and bounced around the dance floor only to find yourself stumbling out into the street at the first signs of daylight. From scantily dressed girls dancing on tables to Europeans fist-pumping along to Tiesto, Lavo is all energy, all opulence, all the time. Planning to drink? Stack your wallet with cash and be prepared to walk out empty-handed - this spot is one of the priciest on the list. (212-750-5588)
A wild card on the list that's too-often overlooked is Mehanata, a Bulgarian club that's home to what seems like a band of traveling gypsies and a wicked vodka ice room. Skip the ice room and don't waste any time jumping in to the downright dirty dancing that's surely taking place across Mehanata's two floors. Trippy gypsy punk collides with a blatant disregard for anything that doesn't resemble a good time. A hidden party house in plain view, your friends will think you've smuggled them to Eastern Europe and not to the Lower East Side for a night unlike any they've ever seen. (212-625-0981)
Finally at home in a permanent location, Verboten brings their decade of experience hosting monster warehouse parties to a former metal shop in Williamsburg. This is where true music heads looking for an authentic fix stumble into when they want to dance until the sun comes up. The 10,000-square-foot space is broken up into two rooms and caters to an eclectic crowd with only two things in common: a love of underground house and the intense urge to dance their faces off. That said, you shouldn't come to Verboten for fist-pumping and crowd surfing - the vibe here is decidedly cooler. (347-223-4732)
Marquee fell out of party people's good graces for a few years but has bounced back with a vengeance after a complete overhaul in 2012. With outposts in Sydney and Vegas, Marquee NYC is essentially one huge room and a balconied VIP area that pulls international electronic DJs on a weekly basis. After paying the cover, you'll join forces with a mix of sweaty New Yorkers and curious out-of-towners. Marquee also does production better than anyone else, and their dedication to all things 'nightlife' is astounding. Break away from the dance floor to take in the dancers, the costumes and the clientele. (646-473-0202)
Santos Party House
Helmed by party prince Andrew W.K., Santo's Party House is two levels of all-out dance party glory located just south of Canal Street. Dedicated to bringing back the dance-meets-art scene, Santo's genre-bending roster includes hip-hop, funk, soul and house. Keep an eye out for their legendary (and unfortunately, only semi-regular) Sunday party, the 718 Sessions, which start at 6PM and end at midnight. Entry to the party is a cool $5. On other nights, try rolling the dice and taking a gamble - it's a New York fact that some of the best nights are the ones where you have no idea what you're getting into. (212-584-5492)
With prime positioning in the club-concentrated Meatpacking District, Provoc, as it's lovely called by regulars, is where to go when you want to see and be seen. Packed to the rafters with models, financial powerhouses, actors and trust fund babies, the room is split into two: Provocateur Café and Provocateur Nightclub. For ear-splitting beats and prime dancing, stay on the Nightclub side but venture to the Café when you're ready for late-night people-watching. And if you think you'll get past the door rocking a beanie and sneakers, think again. Dress to the nines or to get booted to the back of the line...if they let you stay at all. (212-929-9036)
Output is one of the few clubs in Brooklyn to hold its own against Manhattan's heavy hitters. The club is armed with a Funktion One, one of the best sound systems in the city, making it powerful against the big guys in more ways than one. You'll find more plaid-clad hipsters than stilleto'd models here, but that doesn't mean you won't have to wait if you show up late. Once inside, the main room bumps with high-quality electronic talent, the adjoining Panther Room offers a more intimate listening experience and the rooftop gives you a place to cool down before heading back in for more. (No Phone)
Le Bain at the Standard
With arguably the chicest bathrooms and sexiest views in NYC, Le Bain is notoriously one of the hardest doors in the city. Perhaps that's because this lively club is connected to The Boom Boom Room, one of Manhattan's exclusive celebrity watering holes, or maybe it's the hot tubs built directly into the dance floor. Either way, dress to impress and try not to take it to heart if you're turned away once (or more) before gaining entry. If you happen to arrive early, you'll have better luck, but beware that the club stays fairly empty until the clock strikes midnight. (212-645-4646)
For those times when you just can't wait for the weekend, set your Thursday night compass to Cielo in the Meatpacking District for a good old dose of thundering sound and high-energy beats. Brought to you by the same owners as Output, this tiny club boasts a massively powerful sound system (Funktion One) that the techno-house DJs know exactly how to put to good use. The only con? There's a chance you may find yourself rubbing elbows with a few tourists who've read about Cielo on lists like this one, but you'll quickly forget they're there once the bass drops. (212-645-5700)
About Andrea Wien
Andrea Wien was bitten by the travel bug from an early age, and has lived in New York, Seattle, Cleveland and Sydney, Australia since 2007.
When she's not traveling or planning a trip, you'll likely find her eating tacos while throwing darts and watching the Cleveland Browns.
Read more about Andrea Wien here.
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