Best Nightlife in Washington

Democrat and Republican: They're Not the Only Parties in the District

Filibusters, bills and political squabbles may get all the headlines out of Washington, D.C. but the nightlife scene is truly newsworthy when you see how much the district has to offer visitors and residents alike. There really is something for everyone to enjoy. If you want to see some of the most popular names in music then head on over to Nightclub 9:30 or check out The Black Cat to see up and coming performers in the indie rock genre. Both offer patrons the opportunity to see great music in an intimate setting.

Sometimes people just want to watch their favorite sports teams play. Whether they are celebrating a victory or commiserating in defeat, Nellie's Sports Bar offers multiple televisions, great food and drag brunch and bingo. In need of a good laugh? DC Improv is one of the best comedy clubs in the nation offering big names and even larger laughs.

But, let's be honest. When we get all dressed up for a night on the town, we want to dance. The nation's capital has a number of dance clubs like Living Room and Ultrabar to keep your hips moving until they announce last call. Whatever your choice, the district offers so much to choose from after dark.


Soundcheck DC
Photo courtesy of Soundcheck DC

Many people think of a soundcheck as the time when a performer gets their voice and/or instrument ready in the hours or minutes before a concert. District residents may have to expand that definition to include Soundcheck DC, a nightclub on K Street where the music is ready to be heard. Opened in August 2015, the venue features a top-of-the-line sound system, lasers, two disco balls and LED screens. The club brings in local and nationally known DJs to spin the best in hip hop, house and Latin music. A coat check is available during the winter months. METRO: McPherson Square

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Soundcheck isn't just for before the show any more thanks to this K Street dance club.

Gina's expert tip: The club can only hold about 300 people so come early to make sure you get in.

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Pump your fists and get ready to shake your hips at Ultrabar which features five different floors of beat-thumping music and state of the art lighting. Housed in a former bank, the venue kept echoes from its past and incorporated them into its current design. The main floor features a tall ceiling and elegant chandeliers while the basement level still has the original bank safety box boxes. Six full-service bars await your drink orders along with 26 exclusive tables featuring bottle service. Four DJ booths are stationed throughout the club and host a number of national and local talent. METRO: Chinatown/G Street or Metro Center

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: One of the District's longest running nightclubs, this destination is perfect for a high energy night out.

Gina's expert tip: Go to their website and download free entry passes. You can print them at home or show at the door on your phone. Save the money for the bar!

Read more about Ultrabar →

Nellie's Sports Bar
Photo courtesy of Nellie's Sports Bar

Located inside the former Addison Scurlock Photography Studio, this U Street sports bar strives for a welcoming atmosphere mixed with good times and delicious food. Sure, you can catch the game on one of the many televisions throughout the bar but what's this spot different from the rest is how many unique activities they offer. Come for drag brunch on Saturdays and Sundays or drag bingo on Tuesdays. Test your knowledge during out of bounds trivia or dance your cares away when they bring in a DJ. Hungry? Check out some Nellie favorites with bbq ribs, empanadas, chicken nachos and jumbo wings. METRO: U Street

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Offering fun activities like drag brunch and bingo, this U Street staple offers a lively night no matter the date you step in the door.

Gina's expert tip: On a warm night, check out their roof deck.

Read more about Nellie's Sports Bar →


Founded in 2012, this hybrid nightclub and concert venue was first inspired by the electronic music scene's warehouse roots. This destination is not for those who want an intimate gathering as the space is over 30,000 square feet and can host 3,000 guests. Featuring a top tier sound system and advanced LED visual displays, the venue attracts some of the largest names in music including Cardi B, Calvin Harris, Miley Cyrus David Guetta and also up and coming acts guests will want to know. There are nearly 40 tables availalbe for bottle service and two 60 foot bars on each side of the dance floor. METRO: Rhode Island Ave.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Mixing a nightclub and concert venue, this spot is celebrating a decade of dance service in 2022.

Gina's expert tip: If you are visiting the area and need a hotel to stay in after a show, the venue partners with CrewFare to offer discounted hotel rates.

Read more about Echostage →

Walk through the doors of this Georgetown gem and you will be transported back to the supper clubs of the 1920s and 1930s. Founded in 1965, many well-known artists have played here including Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis. While taking in a performance, treat yourself to their scrumptious menu with entrees like salmon cakes, jambalaya and stuffed pork chops. This venue is known as a listening club so be respectful during performances. Once you purchase tickets, make sure you can attend because sales are final and non-refundable. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis so get there early. METRO: Foggy Bottom

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: For nearly 60 years, this district staple has been bringing jazz to the masses. The venue is a must-visit for jazz lovers.

Gina's expert tip: There is a $15 food or beverage minimum per person per show.

Read more about Blues Alley →

Named for the Adams Morgan neighborhood the venue calls home, Madam's Organ features live entertainment seven days a week and bills itself as the place "where the beautiful people go to get ugly." While known for showcasing jazz and blues bands, they also have rock, R&B and salsa performers. Featuring five bars throughout its five levels, the club offers free pool on the second level and more than a dozen appetizers to wash down its tasty assortment of beers and spirits. Their signs say "Sorry, We're open," but they have nothing to apologize for since many are sad when they close for the night. METRO: Woodley Park/Zoo

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: With live music every night, this Adams Morgan favorite is a great venue any day of the week.

Gina's expert tip: The fourth and final level of the club offers a starlit roof deck and tiki bar but it's only open on select nights.

Read more about Madam's Organ →

U Street

Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon, Radiohead and The Strokes are just some of the bands that have played The Black Cat. Since 1993, the club has been bringing patrons the best in live independent music. The 7,000 square foot main concert room hosts the big acts while the backstage suite offers a more intimate experience with indie, punk and garage rock bands, solo artists, DJs dance nights and independent film screenings. After a show, be sure to head to the Red Room Bar which is open until midnight after every main stage show. Guests can indulge in craft beers as well as a selection of liquors. METRO: U Street/Cardozo.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: For those who love indie rock music, this is the venue to go to see up and coming bands.

Gina's expert tip: If you drive to see a show, the venue has partnered with SpotHero to provide reserved parking in advance to patrons.

Read more about Black Cat →

Living Room
Photo courtesy of Living Room

With quirky decor, large couches and curtains throughout, this event space does live up to its name even though its probably unlike most living rooms you have been in. Located in Logan Circle, this club and event space offers a place for District residents to forget their troubles and worries for a night in a relaxing yet stylish setting with only the best dance music. If you are coming with a group, you might want to book table reservations early. Also, they have an event space with more than 5,000 square feet so let them host your birthday or bachelorette party. METRO: McPherson Square

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Thanks to this Logan Circle destination, people will want to hang out in a living room.

Gina's expert tip: Be sure to check out their website to see what events will be happening the week of your visit.

Read more about Living Room →

DC Improv

Everyone needs a good laugh and what better way to tickle your funny bone than to come to DC Improv, one of the top comedy clubs in the nation. A 'Who's who' of comedians have performed here including Ellen DeGeneres, Dave Chappelle, Lewis Black and Jerry Seinfeld and they continue to bring in tour headliners and local celebrities. The venue features a restaurant with a vast menu including vegan and gluten-free options for those who work up an appetite while laughing. Beer, wine and liquor are also available for purchase. Their comedy school offers participants the opportunity to learn how to do improv and standup. Metro: Farragut North

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: They say that laughter can release stress and tension from your body. This place will have you howling.

Gina's expert tip: All shows require a two item minimum per person purchase. You may buy any combination of food, drink, coffee or dessert.

Read more about DC Improv →

Nightclub 9:30
Photo courtesy of gatzy

The official title is Nightclub 9:30 but most know the venue as the 9:30 Club. Some of the most popular names and bands in music perform at this intimate venue. Just scroll through the upcoming shows list and you will be amazed by the talent. While you are enjoying some incredible music, order a tasty dish off their 'Food Food' stand menu which includes a variety of tacos, quesadillas and salad bowls or stop by one of four bars for beer, spirits or non-alcoholic beverages. The venue is now cashless so be sure to bring your debit or credit card. They do have an app available to pay your bar tab from your phone. Metro: U Street

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Open since 1980, the successful club is older than some members of Congress.

Gina's expert tip: If you want to stand up front for a show, get there before doors open to wait in line or head to their Backbar which opens one hour early.

Read more about Nightclub 9:30 →


Meet Gina Gallucci White

Gina Gallucci White is an award winning freelance writer with articles appearing in such regional publications as Frederick Magazine, The Daily Record, Montgomery Magazine and The Gazette. She...  More About Gina