Okay, it's not exactly a club. But the LoHi branch of Maria Empanada, the Denver restaurant group specializing in authentic Argentinian empanadas, is a fun and casual place to learn salsa and Bachata on Thursday evenings, and lessons are free. What's Bachata? It's a genre of Latin American music that originated in the Dominican Republic in the first half of the 20th century with Indigenous, African and European musical elements. The instructors, Nina Born and Nico Martinez, are known to Denver salsa lovers and make learning easy. Come with your favorite dance partner or come alone, having a partner isn't a requirement. These sessions are family-friendly, too. Lessons run from 5:30 p.m. to 6:15 p.m., followed by social dancing from 6:15-7:30 p.m. That gives dancers plenty of time to get over to La Rumba to continue the Salsa fun late into the evening.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Salsa and Bachata lessons at Maria Empanada Riverview in LoHi are fun and free.
Christine's expert tip: Come for the dancing but indulge in the tasty empanadas, too. We all have different tastes, of course, but the corn empanada paired with the sweet chili mayo salsa is delish.
Denver may be a long way from Argentina, but the Mercury Café is the place in the city to learn the tango or to dance the tango if you already know-how. It's also the place to learn swing or how to dance to the blues. In fact, Mercury Café has dancing of one kind or another many nights a week. The lesson schedule is typically blues dancing on Tuesdays, swing on Thursdays, Lindy Hop to Charleston and more on Sundays and tango many Fridays. Most often there's a DJ, but on Sundays, it's dancing to a live band. Whatever style of dance you want to learn and practice, Mercury Café is a good place to start.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Not everyone who likes to dance favors pulsing EDM. Mercury Café provides a fine alternative
Christine's expert tip: Belly dancing is available some Mondays so check out the calendar if that's your style.
Located in LoDo, within the nightlife-centric Nativ Hotel, Stereo Lounge is a place where art, decor and state-of-the-art sound and lighting combine to provide a music and design aesthetic with both contemporary and retro appeal. When not moving to the music, dance lovers can sip classic and classy cocktails prepared by creative mixologists at the bar, or cozy up in one of the exclusive VIP bottle-service tables for the ultimate beverage-and-dance indulgence. Rotating DJs treat patrons to ever-changing, memorable shows, but you never know when a surprise musical guest might show up and deliver a complete takeover of Stereo Lounge.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Stereo Lounge adds a little swank to LoDo and the Denver dance-club scene.
Christine's expert tip: Make a full night of it and book a room in the trendy Nativ Hotel, a short walk from Union Station, Pepsi Center, Coors Field and other popular LoDo venues.
A vertical dance extravaganza, Club Vinyl features four levels, four dance floors and four types of music. As if all that weren't enough, the rooftop indoor/outdoor patio offers a year-round place to relax with heaters, fire pits, hookahs and sweeping city and mountain views. The spectacular Function-One sound system is just part of the experience, which also includes LED video design, multiple screens and large, open dance spaces. The club is open Thursday to Saturday from 9 p.m.-2 a.m., with summer seasonal partying up on the roof on Sundays. Thursdays are College Nights when the club debuts headlining DJs. Depending on the night and floor, the music ranges from salsa, reggaeton, Latin or hip-hop to 1980s and '90s faves and Top 40 tunes to trap, dubstep and future bass music to underground house and techno artists.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The music is varied, dance floors are spread out and the roof has views.
Christine's expert tip: Check out Fiesta Fridays with four floors of Latin music and Hip Hop Thursdays
The Black Box is making a name for itself as one of Denver's top venues for underground bass music. It has two rooms custom fitted with Basscouch sound, making it one of the top sounding rooms in the city. The Black Box side has a capacity of 300, showcases national headliners and charges a cover at the door. The more intimate Lounge, for up to 150, features local crews and has no cover charge, making it a great night out for community music lovers. Check out Electronic Tuesdays battle of DJs and check the venue's website for the list of other monthly music events.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The Black Box adds to an already robust E. 13th Avenue music scene, standing out with its two distinctly different spaces.
Christine's expert tip: Whether you want it or want to avoid it, you should know there's a smoking patio.
Since 1989, the Grizzly Rose has served up country western fun, not that you have to be die-hard country to have a great night here. Unlike some clubs, The Grizz doesn't have a long list of things you can't wear (there are a very few restrictions), there aren't endless lines to get in and you can bring the whole family some nights, kids and all. Better yet, the Grizzly Rose features live music six nights a week, from regional acts to nationally known performers, and a 2,500-square-foot dance floor. Most evenings start with free or nearly free dance lessons, and there's a full kitchen cooking up barbeque. Did we mention the dueling mechanical bulls? Here's a tip: some aficionados say it's more important to hang on with your legs than with your hands. Some nights are 18 and up, some nights 21 and up.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The Grizzly Rose is the place to learn the two-step, line dancing, swing and more.
Christine's expert tip: Sunday nights are family nights when kids under 10 get in free; however, from 11 p.m. on, guests must be 18 or older.
From the creative force behind Linger and Root Down, Ophelia's Electric Soapbox features an excellent full-service restaurant and a dance floor. Typically there's music Thursday through Saturday evenings and during Sunday brunch, but occasionally on weeknights as well so check the schedule. Ophelia's occupies a space management calls a "gastro-brothel" with "boudoir-style" décor, a flirty wink and nod to the building's past as a bordello, flophouse and peep-show parlor over its more than 100-year history. Both food and music headline here. Like Linger and Root Down, Ophelia's menus are vegetable-forward but by no means vegetarian only. Most shows start between 9 and 10 p.m., and many dining reservations made after 9 p.m. on show nights will include a ticket charge. Reservations are highly recommended for pre-show dinners, and if you plan to eat and enjoy the show, let reservation staff know so you can be seated accordingly.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Ophelia's is an excellent combo of good eating and good music with an appeal for multiple generations.
Christine's expert tip: Arrive early if you want to sit. There's very limited seating around the dance floor. VIP booths are also available for a price.
THE alternative, underground hot spot in Denver, Milk is a 21+ dance club in the same building as Bar Standard but tucked away on a lower level. The away-from-it-all venue provides an atmosphere and safe haven where music and dance lovers can express themselves freely and openly. Depending on the night, the musical genre on tap might be Goth, hip-hop, retro, metal, black rock or trap, mashup or turntablism, synthwave or synthgoth. Milk has been called the best underground/underrated dance club in the city, a distinction that is right on target. Note: There is a dress code. No hats or sports apparel allowed but guests are definitely encouraged to dress up for a fun evening.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Milk is the Mile High City's definitive alternative, underground dance club.
Christine's expert tip: Enter through the alleyway between Broadway and Acoma.
Tracks dates back to 1980 when it opened as an after-hours bar. Today, its multiple dance floors and rocking parties keep it a staple on the Denver dance scene, as does its "whoever-you-are-you-are-welcome-here" vibe. Music on tap is likely to be Top 40, hip-hop and favorites from the '80s and '90s; occasionally there are live performances, too. As for a dress code, the folks at Tracks have just one rule. "We pride ourselves on being a place that anyone and everyone can come to. We are a place where everyone can really express their individuality with whatever they may feel comfortable dressed as. As long as you're not nude, come one come all!" Guests 18+ are welcomed on some nights and for some events so check the schedule.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Tracks has been a Denver dance staple for decades, and deservedly so.
Christine's expert tip: For something completely different, check out Drag Nation, the last Friday of each month. Touted as "The nation's best drag show with the hottest celebrity drag queens," it's an outrageously entertaining celebration of Denver's drag community.
Latin dance. That's what La Rumba is about. The club for ages 21 and up appeals to a diverse crowd spanning multiple generations, cultures and ethnicities, and plays diverse styles of Latin music, from salsa, bachata and Cumbria to merengue and cha-cha. Channeling South Beach and Havana, La Rumba transports dancers to a sultry Latin hot spot, even if Denver is just outside the doors. And just as they would in South Beach or Havana, guests at La Rumba dress to impress. That means no sports apparel, ball caps, tank tops, shorts or flip-flops. On Saturday nights, La Rumba showcases some of Denver's top salsa orchestras, while Friday night is ladies night (ladies enter free until 11 p.m.). No salsa or bachata experience? No worries. There are lessons for beginners most nights as well as more advanced instruction for those with experience.
Recommended for Dance Clubs because: In the world of dance clubs, it's practically an institution20 years and counting
Christine's expert tip: Parking is free at 9th and Broadway