Best New York City Dance Clubs For Getting Your Groove On
By Lisa Kahn
When you're out on the town in a new city, few entertainment options get you as up-close-and-personal with the locals quite like sharing a dance floor. An added plus is that abandoning yourself to the rhythms, the lights and the energy of the crowd is the kind of total, free-spirited fun you won't regret in the morning. When you crave that feeling, let us introduce you to the best of NYC dance clubs, where top DJs get things moving and other patrons ensure that there's plenty to see along the way. To follow the crowds, head to the Ibiza-based Pacha and see what lies in store; for a more subdued experience, give LQ a try. There’s a distinct jet-set ambiance at Kiss & Fly, and it's not just because of the Euro-house music and flowing champagne. Head to S.O.B.'s for a spicy mix of Cuban salsa, Jamaican reggae, African pop and Indian Bhangra (laced with break beats). Old-school Brooklyn nightlife comes alive at Capri, a Bay Ridge disco where fist-pumping in time to the music has been elevated to a fine art. No matter where your feet take you, your Gotham dance club experience is destined to be one you'll never forget.
10 Capri Night Club
An authentic Brooklyn disco scene straight out of "Saturday Night Fever" comes to life every Saturday night at Capri (formerly known as Suite). This 10,000 square-foot Bay Ridge club, one of the longest-running in the New York area, hosts young outer-borough partygoers in search of good times. Head to the dance floor and join the energetic locals dressed in their glitziest threads as they fist-pump in time to retro tunes from the 70's and 80's. Overall, it's hard not to have a good time, as evidenced by the hundreds of people that linger on long after the music ends and the bartenders stop pouring. ((718) 748-1002)
The 6,000-square-foot Finale, located within a multi-venue complex, is a collaboration between the EMM Group and the folks behind Pacha. The club is built like a padded vault, lined top-to-bottom in tufted blue leather. Crowning the space is an LED video panel tracing the entire perimeter of the room, immersing guests in a true 360-degree nightlife experience. Situated on the Bowery in Manhattan's Lower East Side, Finale is just one of venues at the 20,000-square-foot property, which also houses The General, a bustling restaurant serving modern Asian cuisine, and the Jazz Room, where guests can savor The General's full dinner and specialty cocktail menus while enjoying an authentic, live jazz experience. (212-627-1235)
8 Naked Lunch
This smart-looking dance hall, named after William Burroughs's famous book, is a good place to spot the occasional celeb. Conspicuously located on the corner of Thompson and Grand Street, Naked Lunch is one of SoHo's favorite places for salsa and great 80's tunes on the weekends. After work, it's not uncommon to see a few business types here, waiting for the party to start and tossing back a cold brew. During the summer, the club's front panels open out to the street, making the scene even cooler. If you don't mind gawkers, you're welcome to start shaking your booty early. TRAIN: 1, 9, A, C, E to Canal St (212-343-0828)
Though its name stands for Sounds of Brazil, S.O.B.'s specializes in global beats hailing from everywhere south of the equator. A popular place to shake your money maker, S.O.B.'s is also a good place to hear great live music ranging from reggae and Afropop to samba and Latin R & B. Recent acts have included Brand Nubian, Erykah Badu and Blackalicious. Patrons love to spend all night here, and who could blame them? The tasty island drinks, the beautiful scenery and the great music make this place hard to leave -- even if it is early in the morning! Closing hours vary. Subway: 1, 9 to Houston St. (212-243-4940)
"Exclusive" barely hints at what this chic ultra-lounge is all about. Sleek yet classy, refined yet sexy, Marquee's evocative layout is truly a piece of art unto itself: vaulted ceilings, a "wishbone" staircase that leads to the VIP area upstairs, pendant fixtures, a grand "disco" chandelier and a dance floor flanked by comfortable banquettes. After a recent revamp, this Meatpacking District spot is now primarily trance- and house-centric, with fog machines, go-go dancers and Wall Street types swilling magnums of champagne. Gaining admittance can be quite a feat on certain nights, so be sure to dress your best and bring along a few pretty faces. Subway: C, E to 23rd St. (646-473-0202)
This Ibiza-based club is one of over two dozen in an international empire spawned in post-Franco Spain. Like its cousins in Barcelona, Marrakesh and Rio, Pacha NYC attracts heavyweight DJs including NYC homeboy Danny Tenaglia, who spins big-room house and electro. The 30,000 square foot space is split up into four different areas, each boasting its own unique look and feel. Pacha delivers a transcendent experience, not only through the music (the DJ booth, surrounded by LED lights, is part of the dance floor and the powerful German sound system forces you off your feet), but also the extraordinary, multilevel party atmosphere. Subway: A, C, E at 42nd St.-Port Authority Bus Terminal (212-209-7500)
4 Kiss & Fly
Since 2007, Kiss & Fly has catered to a young international crowd with an unbeatable sound system and globe-trotting DJs. Named after the passenger drop-off area at a South of France airport, Kiss & Fly caters to clientele that are appropriately of the jet-setting variety. Nights begin with soft jazz and slowly transition into a full-on party complete with 250 strobe lights and high-energy Euro house music. The interior of this Meatpacking District dance club takes its inspiration from ancient Roman bathhouses. Columns and wrap-around couches circle the recessed dance floor, and the arched ceiling features a reproduction of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel painting. The distinctly European vibe is further enhanced by elaborate shows involving flames and aerial acrobatics. Subway: A, C, E at 14th St.; L at Eighth Ave. (212-255-1933)
There's plenty to like at LQ (which stands for Latin Quarter), a sprawling 15,000 square foot dance club in the basement of the Radisson Hotel. The salsa and Latin pop offer an antidote to generic Top 40 and repetitive house beats. East Asian and Latin inspired decor glitters in the glow of warm red and golden lighting, and the sunken dance floor funnels Latin dance enthusiasts into a frenzy. If shaking your booty isn't your thing, there are plenty of non-dancing distractions, including bottle service at a banquette and sports on the big screens at the bar. But there's a good chance you'll be out on the floor once the music starts. 6 at 51st St. (212-593-7575)
One of the city's top clubs regardless of who's keeping score, the place "where house music lives" is indeed a primo spot to be in the Meatpacking District once the midnight hour rolls in. The music -- an innovative, global montage of everything from Afro-Latin and soul to techno and nu jazz -- is a big draw, of course. The scene (sexy decor, a sunken dance floor, and cozy brown and beige banquettes) generates a fair amount of its own buzz... as does the beautiful, 20-something clientele. TRAIN: A, C, E, 1, 2, 3 to 14th St; L to 8th Ave. (212-645-5700)
Output's location on Wythe Avenue is near another Williamsburg success story, the Wythe Hotel, and both share a similar egalitarian spirit. As one local put it: "You do not go to Output to be seen. You go to dance." Brooklyn hipsters, as well as Manhattanites pretending to be Brooklyn hipsters, line up for hours to get into this 452-person club, which features no bottles, no hassles at the door and no nonsense. A rooftop addition this spring should add more breathing room. The beard-and-beanie set groove to an incredible Funktion-One sound system and a lineup of exciting new DJ's every week. (No Phone)
About Lisa Kahn
No matter where she's lived, Lisa Kahn has always called New York "home." Raised in Queens, Lisa studied journalism and consumed lots of premium ice cream in Boston. However, the manic energy of Manhattan eventually beckoned her back. Lisa has promoted New York travel for NYC & Company, The New York Times and Fodor's Travel Guides. An avid home cook, she has also penned food features for The Star-Ledger and is the editor of two grilling cookbooks. Lisa currently spends lots of time in Brooklyn scouring vintage stores and sampling the new restaurants springing up seemingly overnight on every street.
Read more about Lisa Kahn here.