Dance the Night Away at These Favorite Key West Bars and Clubs

If you’re looking for the big-city nightclub experience, you won’t find it in Key West. Long lines, VIP rooms and exorbitant cover charges, don’t really fit into the laid-back island’s DNA. Instead, you’ll find a more organic approach from couples doing the salsa on Mallory Square at El Meson de Pepe to tourists kicking it with the drag queens at 801 Bourbon.

Live music is a mainstay at most bars and restaurants, so if the mood hits you, it’s perfectly acceptable to shimmy and shake wherever you are. Late in the night, spots like Sloppy Joe’s and Green Parrot clear the tables to make room for a dance floor. “The Parrot” is famous for bringing in the best bands from around the country for a heady mix of gritty blues, rock and funk. At the classy martini bar, Virgilio’s, the well-groomed hit the outdoor dance floor for live music--usually jazz, blues or Latin.

The vibrant LGBT scene offers the closest thing you’ll find to a traditional dance club at Aqua and Bourbon Street Pub, albeit with an outside tiki bar and male go-go dancers. DJs at Rick’s Upstairs and Fat Tuesday ramp up the beats for a younger crowd, who are fueled by an intoxicating blend of strong drinks and hormones. Here are the ten best places to dance like nobody’s watching in Key West.

Duval Street


At Irish Kevin's, hilarious entertainers (particularly Pauly from New York) draw people in off the street with a chant of "come on in!" The live performers keep the patrons dancing, singing and entering drinking contests all day long. Music...  Read More

Duval Street


You'd be hard-pressed to learn about Key West without hearing of the infamous Sloppy Joe's bar, where people come to get, well, sloppy. It was Hemingway's favorite watering hole ("Sloppy Joe" was Captain Joe Russell, the founder and one of...  Read More

Duval Street


This funky Duval Street bar is a must-do on any Key West itinerary. Female impersonators take the stage at the cabaret, including the legendary Sushi, who has been making a name for herself on the island for more than 25 years. Expect singing,...  Read More



Filled with mix of local characters and visitors-in-the-know, "The Parrot," is not your typical dive bar. As the oldest watering hole in Key West, they've got nothing to prove, and their motto, "No Snivelling," illustrates their no-nonsense...  Read More



With a prime location on the corner of Petronia and Duval Street, this popular gay pub is Key West's only video music bar and home to the island's largest television screen. The VJs showcase exclusive videos, and at 10:00 p.m. the Men of Bourbon...  Read More



Cuban culture is an integral part of Key West's DNA, and at El Meson de Pepe, you can salsa the night away. At sunset, the Latin band, Caribe of Key West, creates a festive atmosphere, while people dance and mingle outside at the patio bar. The...  Read More



With eight bars built in to this complex, you can easily party all night at Rick's Key West. The Duval Street institution offers late night karaoke (until 4:00 a.m.), the Durtbags cover band, and several DJs that turn up the bass into the wee...  Read More

Duval Street
Aqua Nightclub
Photo courtesy of Aqua Nightclub


This all-welcome, gay night club has creative events every day of the week from afternoon to evening. Stop in for no-limit Texas Hold'em poker tournaments, Aqua's American Idol karaoke with proceeds that go to charity and dueling bartenders who...  Read More

Duval Street


It may be a chain bar, but Fat Tuesday always promises a good time, especially since their famous frozen daiquiris are some of the strongest on the island. During the day, you can cool down with some mellow reggae grooves. (They even serve up...  Read More

Duval Street


Tucked behind La Trattoria restaurant, Virgilio's (named after the founder of the restaurant) is an elegant indoor/outdoor cocktail bar popular with the swanky over 30 crowd. Perfectly mixed martinis are the house specialty in yummy flavors like...  Read More


Meet Claudia Miller

Claudia Miller has been writing about South Florida for over 17 years--seven from Key Largo. A budding photographer, she can usually be found stalking a sunset. Despite being a tad...  More About Claudia