Dress down or dress to impress, it's all about dancing at these Orlando clubs

Ah, to dance is to be free, yes? Few pursuits tap into the primal pleasures of nightlife and release that built up tension more than moving your body to the rhythm. Ready to release, are you? Then, by all means, peruse our selection of Orlando’s finest. And since tastes vary, we’ve submitted a range of establishments for your consideration. 

Parliament House caters to the gay community (though everyone is welcome, to be sure); it’s a veritable historic landmark in gay tourism – and a hell of a place to dance. Body//Talk is an evolved sort of dance club, one that's rooted in creativity, social connectivity, IRL interaction. Blue Martini’s well known happy hour gives way to a sophisticated dance party as the night comes on, while Aero boasts a rooftop space with pretty cabanas to match. Folks looking to don their hats and boots – and maybe take in a little NASCAR or live music – will find the ample space at Cowboys to their liking. As always, old favorites like the Independent Bar welcome just about anyone who’s feeling the beat.


South Orlando

Dance club don't just mean house music, y'all. Cowboys Orlando has been bringing country music to town for a good, long while, open Thursday through Saturday and featuring everything from live local and national music acts to state-of-the-art sound and lighting and more than 30 TVs on which to get your NASCAR (among other things) on. Oh, and one other thing: it's huge, a C&W entertainment complex comprised of roughly 20,000 square feet. All the better for line dancing! And if your Boot Scoot's not what it should be, fear not: this nightclub offers free lessons every night for cowboys and cowgirls aged 18 and up.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: If you like your music country, space to roam and your dancing in a nice, orderly line, Cowboys might be your kinda place.

A.D.'s expert tip: The lot here is free and patrolled regularly. Park fearlessly and party on!

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Like EDM? The Attic's been serving electronic beats up in one of downtown's best parties since 2010 and in an altogether more intimate setting than your usual sprawling, anonymous club. (Translation: it can get PACKED.) With a popular local DJ in residence, the Attic boasts more than a few regulars. Visitors tout staffers who are friendlier than average in this oft-haughty industry and bartenders who really know what they're doing. Like your clubs sparsely populated? Don't come here on a Saturday. On this popular night, the music pumps and the dance floor jumps. It's a good time. Check it out.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: With a warmer vibe than most nightclubs and a killer DJ with a penchant for EDM, the Attic is one club worth checking out.

A.D.'s expert tip: The crowd here skews younger, 20-30, but that doesn't mean you won't see older patrons enjoying the vibe, the drinks and the dance floor.

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Blue Martini Orlando
Photo courtesy of Blue Martini Orlando

Well known for its daily, half-price Happy Hour from 4-8 p.m., Blue Martini is one part upscale lounge and dining establishment with a vibe that morphs into a club after sunset. Monday's Industry Night and Wednesday's Ladies' Night are both particularly popular, the latter featuring deep bar discounts for members of the fairer sex. Entertainment here comes in the form of either live bands or DJs â€" some nights showcase both (the records usually start spinning around 10). Blue Martini's demographic is impressively diverse; on a packed night, you might see multiple generations burning up the dance floor and sipping generously poured cocktails. There are Blue Martini locations throughout Florida and a few others in Washington, Texas, Arizona and Las Vegas, so it's a hot spot with which you may already be familiar.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Gen Z & Millennials aren't the only demographics who likes a good dance party. Blue Martini brings it for a more sophisticated crowd.

A.D.'s expert tip: Blue Martini's happy hour goes long, which is nice if you can't make it out of the office at 5. Dress codes here are enforced. No flip flops. No T-shirts. Look sharp.

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The Lodge

It's a bar, it's a club, it's whatever you want it to be except fancy, so if you're a VIP-section kinda clubber, this ain't your jam. For the rest of us, though, who might appreciate a mellow, draft beer experience at 5:30 pm on a Monday and a rowdy, put-your-hands-in-the-air kinda vibe when the clock strikes midnight on Friday (or do we mean Saturday?), the Lodge is a dive-bar chameleon of the highest order. Taxidermy and other rustic lodge-style touches make the theme quite immersive for what amounts to a beloved local dive that's still going strong after many years in the downtown scene. Throwback music from bygone decades spins often, games abound on the telly, and the late-night dance party is consistently jovial.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Intimate, luxurious surrounds, attentive staffers and a serious sound system make Vyce worth a peek.

A.D.'s expert tip: This is a dive that doubles as a dance club. Those looking for velvet ropes and bottle service need not apply.

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Want to see what determination in the gym can accomplish? Show up for Southern Nights' Flex Nights featuring the some of the hottest hardbodies north of Miami Beach or #GirltheParty Saturdays, Florida's largest lesbian weekly party with shows, dancing and more! Southern Nights is a tour de force for LGBT nightlife in town, welcoming revelers 18+ for friendly, all-inclusive fun, whether DJ- or drag diva-hosted dance party or casual BBQ-infused happy hours. Multiple bars and indoor/outdoor options make this venue versatile; guests can find their most comfortable space.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Orlando's LGBT scene is strong, thriving and full of pride! Come see evidence thereof at Southern Nights.

A.D.'s expert tip: Only open certain Mondays and Wednesdays; check the website for complete details.

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Parliament House

No one, whether tourist or local, would deny that the look of the Parliament House complex has seen better days (after all this groundbreaking gay resort had its inaugural in the 1970s) but when they call the place "dirty" and "trashy," they're saying it with love. Usually. Whether they're hosting celebs like Chaka Khan, the Miss Gay Orlando pageant or the Lady Gaga concert after party, the atmosphere is always festive. There is on-site lodging, but you don't have to stay the night. Come for dancing, drag or an afternoon by the pool.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Parliament House could be declared a National Historic Gay Landmark (if such a thing officially existed). It's worth a visit just for that.

A.D.'s expert tip: PH is not merely very gay-friendly, it's very gay AND friendly, which means as long as you're comfortable amid the culture (which can get a little raucous) come on in.

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Few downtown Orlando venues take advantage of Central Florida's stellar weather like Aero, a striking and recently renovated rooftop lounge with cozy cabanas and twinkly lights all immersed in the cosmopolitan surrounds of the city skyline. Nightly soirees feature DJs spinning house, electronic and more but Sunday Fundays bring with them not only old-school, reggae and Top 40 for your dancing feet, but a more casual daylight vibe, as well. Come dressed to impress or come as you are (within reason, of course). Extremely wallet-friendly drink specials vary from night-to-night, but the music and views are consistently intoxicating.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Gorgeous rooftop views allow those with itchy feet to get their groove on while enjoying the stellar Florida weather amid the cityscape.

A.D.'s expert tip: Did we mention this bar, with its stellar views, has no cover? We should.

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Eve is a posh, elegant space with a design that incorporates elements both warm and sleek, pairing exposed brick with glittery chandeliers and walls and sumptuous lighting that comes together quite beautifully. Several distinct atmospheres â€" a lounge, nightclub area and spacious balcony overlooking Orange Avenue â€" mean guests can move around to suit their mood. With a 5,000-square-foot main level, there's plenty of room to groove to the beats, whether you're out on the floor, grabbing a cocktail at one of three bars or velvet rope'ing it in one of several VIP areas. Multi-tiered seating adds to the perception of spaciousness as the bodies move on the floor.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Versatile settings make chic Eve a near-customizable dance club experience. Balcony and fresh air are an undeniable plus.

A.D.'s expert tip: Visit Eve's website to reserve VIP services. A handy floor plan lets you stake out the best real estate.

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The Beacham began its life in the 1920s as a showcase for vaudevillians. These days, following some extensive and relatively recent renovations that preserve its character, it does double-duty as a live music venue and dance club, featuring both national touring acts and DJs alike. House music fans will be happy to know that the likes of Tiesto and David Guetta have entertained the dancing throngs inside this historic building. The Beacham and the Social, one of Orlando's premier live-music venues, share space on occasion; Friday's "Official Ladies Night" brings all kinds of discounts for the 21+ females, Saturday night brings hip-hop and club mixes in the main room, or you can breeze in for Barrio & Tropical Sundays, which are all-you-can-drink.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The Beacham does double duty for being not only a fun dance club, but also a solid live music venue with space for dancing!

A.D.'s expert tip: The Beacham lives right next door to the Social, one of Orlando's most popular music venues. Check their collective schedules to combine a live set at the latter with all-night dancing at the former.

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Vintage rock to top 40, indie to 80s new wave, the Independent Bar hits that sweet spot between dance club and dive bar, a place where patrons are welcome to dress to impress or roll in in Chucks and ripped jeans. Seriously, man, no one's looking, relax. Multiple bars make getting drinks a non-issue and a friendly atmosphere makes for a relaxing, no-stress night of dancing and people-watching; patrons might be yuppies or rockers, goths or indie hipsters, it really is that eclectic. In fact, it's even 18+. Special nights like "Mac & Cheese" (DJ Mac spins the cheesiest music mix) are ever-evolving, but always indicative of the venue's convivial vibe. Specials and cheap beer are essentially a given.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: The Independent places "10Best" in multiple categories because it hits that sweet spot where you just want to dance and don't care who's watching.

A.D.'s expert tip: Grits & Gravy, a night mixing 50s, 60s, soul, funk, Motown and disco is, much like its name, as delicious as it sounds.

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Meet A.D. Thompson

Amy Drew has spent nearly three decades as a professional writer and roughly half her life as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.

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