Dance, jazz and comedy clubs among the best in Chicago nightlife

Nightlife isn’t narrowly defined in Chicago as just a dance club or bar. While that scene might appeal to some, there is also a host of other after hour options for both locals and visitors including comedy clubs, live musical performances and even theatrical acts.

We offer a carefully vetted selection to let you explore Chicago nightlife on your own. Closer to downtown Chicago are Studio Paris Nightclub in the River North neighborhood where you can dine on classic French cuisine at Paris Club before the club opens its doors at 10 pm on the rooftop. Not far is The Underground Chicago, one of the city’s hottest dance clubs.

Just north of downtown is Second City which is best known for launching some of the biggest names in the business including Tina Fey and Dan Aykroyd. Performances occur throughout the day with 11pm shows as an option on some evenings.

For more lounge experience than loud music clubs, head to sultry Violet Hour in Wicker Park, Green Mill Cocktail Lounge for some smooth jazz or Rosa’s Lounge for blues.


Located on the 26th floor of the Virgin Hotel, this downtown, rooftop dance club has top DJs, funky-chic decor (including pillow-covered couches), and killer city views. The drinks are pricey, the crowd is beautiful, and you'll need to dress up....  Read More

Hofbrauhaus may be a bit of a tourist trap, but people flock here because it's such a fun, rowdy place to have a beer. The massive beer hall - which can easily hold 1,000 people - is designed like its sister beer hall in Munich, Germany. People...  Read More

West Town
Beauty Bar
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Beauty Bar

This dance club that also serves as a boozy salon is a great place for a manicure, martini, and dance party. The kitchy 60s decor includes glittery paint on the walls and salon furniture that would set your mom's heart (and hair)...  Read More

Don't let the name of the place fool you - while it has plenty of folk music concerts, this excellent, intimate concert hall offers shows ranging from African music to a full Cuban salsa band (with dancing!). There's not a bad seat in the...  Read More

This casino, which opened in 2011, is one of the most popular casinos in Illinois. It's technically in Des Plaines, but adjacent to Rosemont and close to O'Hare International Airport. It's tiny compared to the mega casinos of Las Vegas but it...  Read More

The Underground Chicago
Photo courtesy of The Underground

Sleek decor, updated tech elements and an impressive food and beverage program bring a nicely dressed, attractive crowd to this sexy dance club. This is one of the places in Chicago where you're most likely to rub elbows with celebrities,...  Read More

Violet Hour
Photo courtesy of Violet Hour

Don't let the outdoor décor fool you. It's boarded up and one friend wondered if anything was even inside. Once you (after a long wait in a line outside, most likely), you enter through heavy velvet curtains and into a dark cocktail lounge....  Read More

Remember those places where the musicians just want to play to people who love to hear their music? Rosa's Lounge is that kind of place. No frills, just a classic joint to hear great live blues without the unnecessary pretentiousness of a...  Read More

Green Mill Cocktail Lounge
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

Tourists and jazz aficionados regularly flock to this cool, historic Chicago joint. Once a hangout of Al Capone, Charlie Chaplin and Gloria Swanson, the place has tons of character. It was also a speakeasy during Prohibition, meaning that Green...  Read More

Second City
Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Choose Chicago

The world's premier comedy troupe, The Second City, is one of the quintessential Chicago activities. The comedy troupe has launched some of the biggest names in the business, including Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Mike Myers, Steve...  Read More


Meet Jamie Bartosch

Jamie Bartosch is a lifelong Chicagoan who thinks her hometown is the greatest city in the world. She is an award-winning newspaper reporter, a freelance travel writer, and the mother of two great kids.