Teragram Ballroom recently opened in downtown Los Angeles, giving music-loving Angelenos another intimate venue to see live music. This DTLA concert space is on 7th Street, just blocks from Staples Center and the Microsoft Theater (the former Nokia Theatre), located in a renovated, century-old theater that was once a Hollywood movie palace. But unlike those two massive venues, the Teragram Ballroom only holds 600 people in this standing-room-only venue. The 9,000 square-foot theater offers special features for both artists and audiences: three dressing rooms, dedicated loading dock, spacious backstage, state-of-the-art sound system, three bars and a restaurant with plenty of space throughout to make the experience one of fun, rather than that of sweaty bodies jammed into a too-small space, all fighting to get the attention of a bartender. Instead, this well-thought-out venue makes one feel as if this is a perfectly planned dance party venue.
Transforming the old Key Club space on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, 1OAK LA has brought serious sophistication to that formerly slightly seedy space. Now leather banquettes open to a dance floor and massive Brazilian-wood bar, stocked with top-shelf libations. DJs spin everything from EDM to funk and hip hop; plus, they control a serious light show that creates an exciting vibe. Only open since early 2014, the club has already drawn some of the biggest names in entertainment, from Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio to Rihanna, Jared Leto and even U.S.A. Soccer World Cup star Tim Howard, who hit 1OAK LA the moment he returned to the States after his epic performance against Belgium. You never know who will turn up next!
Only being open on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights helps make Bootsy Bellows a must-visit kind of Sunset Strip spot; it also helps that people like Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and plenty of co-owner David Arquette's pals love to drop in. And why not, when the place features puppet shows, DJ sets, live music, and, of course, burlesque acts. The space evokes a whacked-out 1960s vibe and fills up fast, making dancing to the music more of a stand-and-sway experience, but if you can get into the special "friends and family" VIP backroom, you'll have more space for revelry. Not to mention the possibility of taking a selfie with a superstar.
Located in West Hollywood, the center of L.A.'s gay community, the Abbey Food & Bar is a fixture in that neighborhood that's also known as "Boys' Town." The club is famous for its big martinis, sexy go-go dancers and slightly decadent vibe – with four dance floors pulsating all night long, it's no surprise that there's often a line out the door. But the Abbey is more than a meat market, as owner David Cooley uses his famous club as a forum for advocating equal rights for the entire LGBT community. Don't miss his annual fundraising Oscar party, for you're sure to see some famous Hollywood faces in that crowd – and most other nights, in fact.
The Conga Room is a convivial place located in the heart of L.A. Live in Downtown Los Angeles. A fixture in the nightlife scene, the club is owned by some famous names, including Jennifer Lopez, Will.i.am of the Black-Eyed Peas, Jimmy Smits, and NBA star Baron Davis. The owners are an eclectic group, which means that the club books plenty of different musical talent, from Latino greats like Willie Colon to the hottest DJs around. And every so often, superstars like Drake, Justin Timberlake or Kendrick Lamar turn up to play. And don't miss trying the Pan-Latin fare at BOCA, the restaurant incorporated into the club.
Small, dark, and handsome, Harvelle's is one of L.A.'s favorites for live blues, rock and alternative music. In business since 1931, this Santa Monica landmark used to be a dark, smoke-filled dive, but nowadays it has gone sophisticated. The striking black-and-white decor gives the place a retro cool vibe, with the stage set off by its deep-red curtain backdrop. When popular bands come to play, the place gets jammed to the rafters, so you may want to arrive early to secure a seat. Whether you prefer the cutting-edge sounds of new rock artists or more traditional riffs from some of the greatest blues musicians alive today, you're sure to hear something terrific at Harvelle's.
The Granada has something for everyone with a wide range of classes and styles, with a special focus on Latin dancing. Be transported back in time with their 1930s style decor and sign up for classes given every night of the week. Check out Salsa & Latin Nights on Tuesday (DJ), Bachata Nights on Thursday (with some Hip Hop thrown in by the DJ, too) and Salsa on the main dance floor on Friday and Saturday nights with live bands keeping the beat going. There's Ballroom Night on Sunday, too. Find the full list of classes, events and bands on the Granada website. They teach all types of dance, with group and private lessons available all week long. Note that there is a dress code; no hoodies, flip flops and generally crummy looking clothes here, please.
Zanibar, one of Santa Monica's liveliest nightclubs, has a different musical theme every evening. Monday is always salsa night, with lessons from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. and a live band all night long. Other nights you will find EDM, Afrofunk, Reggae, Rock, Brazilian – it's a melting pot of sound. The lounge vibe here is accented by its African-Indian decor and there are drink specials to be tested out at varying hours during the evening. Locals and tourists agree that while Zanzibar may be small, it is certainly lively, especially when they bring out the bikini-clad dancing girls to lead the change onto the dance floor.
One of L.A.'s classic clubs, The Mint is a little place with a big sound. The music-filled venue has packed them in since 1937, with just a small stage, minute dance floor and long, convivial bar and booths. You can grab a bite to eat in the back, but why not join the crowd right up front as you boogie down to bands ranging from New Orleans favorites like Trombone Shorty, Marcia Ball and Rebirth Brass Band to brand-new up-and-coming groups. Plus, you never know who might turn up on stage here; everyone from Stevie Wonder and Justin Timberlake to Bonnie Raitt and Tom Jones have graced this classic joint. And it is real music in this club, no canned electronics – everyone is actually playing instruments and singing here!
There's no place that packs in the high-intensity crowds that love EDM like Create, where top L.A.-based DJs like the EC Twins draw capacity crowds into a space designed for musical and visual experimentation. Laser and LED lights explode around the partygoers, confetti flies down on the dancers and arctic blasts cool things off when the joint gets really jumping. Head out to the patio to escape the madness and make sure to snap a group shot in the photobooth. For a space of your own, book a VIP table and bottle service; otherwise, jump in and revel in the Electronic Dance Music rave going off all around you. Usually only open on weekends; check the club's online calendar for up-to-date info.