Located in the Towers of Channelside, the twin, rounded buildings across the street from the Plaza, Aja seeks to bring the Miami ultralounge concept to downtown Tampa. The space is two floors of both indoor and outdoor elements designed by former Frank Gehry architect Kirk Blaschke. His goal was to make an open, inviting environment where people can both dance and converse easily. But it's the outside covered patio that sets Aja apart. It overlooks the downtown skyline and provides a rare ambiance, especially in the downtown Tampa club scene. It also makes the club cigar-friendly, which is often appreciated this close to Ybor City.
For those looking for more hip-hop flavor in their lives, might we suggest Club Skye. The best hip-hop and reggaeton DJs in the southeast make routine stops at this Ybor City club. You might even me surprised by a national MC giving a planned (or unplanned) performance from time to time. The club itself is two levels, a VIP balcony, and an exclusive private champagne room. Skye also features an outdoor tiki bar if you need to recuperate a little. Club Skye is an 18 and up club, so you may find that the clientele is pretty young.
Whiskey North is one of the few dance clubs located in the northern part of the city. Over the last ten years the club has become a popular watering hole that enjoys a loyal following thanks to great happy hour specials and fun weekly events. Designed to provide guests with an Adirondack lodge atmosphere, decor features lots of mountain charm with real wood beams and rustic furniture. The dancing take place on two levels complete with a state-of-the-art sound and light system. Reservations can be made for VIP table service in one of many Adirondack-themed seating areas, perfect for special occasions.
Hyde Park Cafe has been setting the tone in the SoHo bar scene for over a decade now. With three distinct areas, all types of clientele come to dance, drink, or just hang out. The Velociti Room is your DJ-led dance party, spinning everything from salsa to hip-hop. Whatever music Velociti is spinning, chances are WB's Room is doing something completely different. On the other hand, if you just want to relax, there's a biergarten with over 60 varieties of brew along with bar food such as burgers, wings, and hot dogs. The VIP fills up quick, so reservations are recommended.
On the very northern edge of the SoHo neighborhood lies The Kennedy, an upscale dance lounge that caters to both the young professionals that frequent SoHo's bars and students from the nearby University of Tampa. The decor is sumptuous, featuring lots of red and black velvet lounge seating. They play everything from Latin flavors to house to pop, and are occasionally visited by nationally-recognized acts, such as Lady Gaga. As they are associated with the Hyde Park Cafe, any promotions or cards usually translate over to The Kennedy if you want to club-hop between the two.
The Ybor club scene sees its fair share of turnaround, but Club Prana has been around for more than a decade because it isn't afraid to reinvent itself on occasion. With five different levels this ultra-modern dance club features an eclectic mix of latin, hip-hop, reggae, and dance music. Most people clubbing in Ybor choose to at least make a stop here to check out the DJs and take advantage of the traffic drink specials. The sound and light system is unmatched in the area, making sure you lose your bearings by the end of the night.The exclusive rooftop bar is a great place to have a conversation or just look at the lights of downtown Tampa in the distance.
Among the most entertaining gay bars in Tampa, Florida, this high-energy club is a sweet spot to shimmy like you mean it on an expansive dance floor bathed in flashing lights. After busting every move you've got, retreat to the balcony where danced-out clubbers sip cheap, tasty drinks and chat with the sociable staff. The Honey Pot also features Steam Fridays with phenomenal drag shows for men and Tease Saturdays with sensational specials for women including $1 drinks from 10 pm - 11 pm. There are also plenty of special events and guest DJs.
This poll-topping venue is hailed by many as the premier spot in Tampa, Florida for live music. Originally built in 1917, the Ritz underwent a $2 million renovation and now boasts three magnificent rooms, a grand foyer, multiple full-service bars and state-of-the-art sound and lighting. The venue is large enough to bring in top music industry names like Lady Gaga and Interpol but intimate enough to provide excellent sight-lines and electrifying musician-audience interaction. Ticket prices are reasonable and there is a good drink selection. General admission only and no seating in the concert area. So, get there early and wear comfortable shoes!
Featuring rock, jazz, ska, dubstep, hip-hop, indie, metal, and reggae, Tampa's live music scene doesn't get more varied than this. The Crowbar, a local fave strung with Christmas lights, offers a clean, intimate space in which concertgoers can feel completely absorbed by the music. Bar service is consistently stellar, and if your eardrums need a break, you can pamper them on the quiet outdoor patio. Open mic nights and karaoke are also well-loved here. Cover varies from free to $10, so it's a very reasonable price to pay for enjoying live, original music.
This massive, multi-level nightclub has served as Tampa's alternative mecca for over 25 years. There are frequent special events and different theme nights on the weekends, ranging from pop video night to goth or trance. Dressing up is half the fun at the Castle! There are 3 different areas for music, and 5 areas altogether to hang out. Each offers something a little different, and it's a good bet you'll leave having seen something completely new. Despite the alternative clientele, everyone in The Castle is friendly and welcoming. Because The Castle is so wide-ranging, it's a good idea to check their website before you go to see what you might be getting yourself into.