Best Dance Clubs in New Orleans

10 Best Places to Shake Your Groove Thing in New Orleans

Dancing isn't a special occasion kind of activity in New Orleans. In this town, where spontaneous second line parades happen any old time, and both weddings and funerals inspire dancing in the street, moving to a beat is as natural as eating red beans and rice on a Monday.

What many visitors may not know is that while traditional New Orleans jazz and brass is the ever-present soundtrack to the city, there is a vibrant music scene to celebrate every kind of genre happening just about any night of the week. From acoustic folk pickin' parties to DJ's spinning bounce and rap to homegrown sludge metal and Cajun waltzing, you can groove to it in New Orleans.

New Orleans does cater to the late-night crowd and many of these dance clubs and live music venues reflect that philosophy. But those late night crowds are unlike any other you'll line up within other cities. New Orleans is an equal opportunity party town. That sense of exclusivity that, say, a city like New York is famous for - you look a certain way, you get in, other than that stay behind those stanchions - is not how we roll.   In most cases, crowds are mixed, gay, straight, male, female, older, younger, locals and tourists, a mix which makes for one heck of a good time.


9th Ward

Before St. Claude Avenue was "cool," before there were restaurants opening every other week along this Bywater stretch, the Saturn was there. There's a great jukebox and live music on a regular basis, but the real night to dance like a fool is the monthly Saturday night Mod Dance Party - an evening of 60s swagger powered by DJ Matty and DJ Kristen, who stick to a soundtrack of solely vinyl from the period. Put on some lashes, tease the hair and don your best Pucci knock off mini-dress, and you'll fit right in. The view from the upstairs balcony is killer.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Check out the photos on the wall of this iconic dive - yes that is Mick Jagger.

Beth's expert tip: King James and the Special Men are in the house most Monday nights.

Read more about Saturn Bar →

A hotbed of New Orleans' live music, the original "Tip's" is Uptown, rocking out beneath oak trees along the Mississippi River. Tip's helped launch the careers of such artists like the Neville Brothers, Harry Connick Jr., Dr. John, and The Subdudes. Filling out the performance schedule are major rock 'n' roll acts, emerging local groups of all genres and regional Cajun, zydeco, blues and R&B performers. Clubs come and they go, but there's no place like the original Tip's. Most Sundays you'll find a Cajun jam onstage. Get a shirt, the banana logo will be the envy of all your friends. Don't forget to rub Professor Longhair's head for luck - his statue greets you as you come into the club. The club was recently bought by members of the funk band Galactic, which might make for some interesting changes.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Tip's is classic New Orleans, a great place to shake it up to live music and get sweaty.

Beth's expert tip: Follow Tipitina's on Facebook to get in on the free ticket giveaways they use to promote the club.

Read more about Tipitina's →


The Maison is a bar/restaurant venue on historic Frenchmen Street in New Orleans. Frenchmen Street is known for its great music and nightlife, and The Maison offers some of the street's and the city's best dancing. This is a great place to go if you love dancing to live music a la horns, bluesy guitar and keys. The venue has three stages, and often they are all being worked by some great local talent simultaneously. There is rarely a cover at The Maison, so feel free to wander here late night when craving some moving and shaking. VIP packages and bachelor/bachelorette parties are welcome.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: Frenchmen Street has a lot of visually tempting options, but this is definitely a great place to go dancing.

Beth's expert tip: There is a swingin' live jazz brunch every Sunday.

Read more about The Maison →

Howlin' Wolf

From traveling business types to hard-core college students, the Howlin' Wolf draws a diverse crowd that tends to skew on the younger side. Located near the Convention Center, this live music club attracts a number of touring bands and the music menu ranges from rock to blues. Past line-ups have included the Black Crowes and the Reverend Horton Heat. The club holds about 500 people with an upstairs balcony area as well as pool tables in the back. Local Hot 8 Brass is usually in the house on Sunday nights. The ambiance is loud, the crowd energetic, and the prices for drinks and cover are affordable. The bathrooms, however, are on the rough side, so be prepared.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: HW is a good sized venue with a roster of both local and touring acts.

Beth's expert tip: The club's exterior boasts a streetscape mural by artist James Michalopoulos.

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The Spotted Cat
Photo courtesy of New Orleans CVB

While local musicians entertain, patrons chill on comfy couches and sip cocktails at this popular Marigny lounge. The relaxed setting appeals to a slightly older clientele, although swingers of all ages show up for the swing dance lessons every Wednesday night. Music ranges from New Orleans jazz to Latin. Despite late night hours, the lounge is busiest in the early evening and shows start as early as late afternoon. Fans of the HBO show Treme may remember that Spotted Cat was a regular hangout for Treme buskers Annie and Sonny. Take a listen to the music outside before heading into the crowd. The cover is always nominal.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: This Frenchmen Street fave draws locals and visitors to its eclectic menu of retro and gypsy swing music.

Beth's expert tip: Free beginner swing dance lessons are offered at 5 pm every Wednesday.

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Another warehouse dance destination, The Metropolitan Club is the premier video DJ dance establishment in the city. The intricate lighting and smoke machines set the mood, as celebrants find themselves lost in the endless beats bumping through the surround sound speakers. The music offerings are eclectic with top 40, hip hop, rock and pop in one room, and house, electro, techno and dubstep in another. Flat screen TVs line the walls, so the dancers can follow the DJ from any spot on the floor. VIP table service is offered and valet parking is also a plus. Unlike other large clubs where it takes forever to get a drink, Metropolitan offers 11 bar stations so you're never thirsty.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: This is a large warehouse space that caters to private events and turns into a club most weekends.

Beth's expert tip: The Metropolitan isn't open every night, so call first and plan accordingly.

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French Quarter

Bourbon Heat offers a centrally located French Quarter dance club experience on the second level, with a courtyard for chilling with cocktails on the main floor. Eating elsewhere is a good idea, but if you're looking to party, head up the stairs to the huge dance floor outfitted with a large bar and a DJ spinning the latest pop, hip hop and house. Outside there is a large balcony which is perfect for people watching. Flashing lights and a smoke machine keep time to the music. When you need a break, head for the balcony overlooking the Bourbon Street masses swarming the street below.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: This is a rowdy party scene by night with a lively dance floor.

Beth's expert tip: When you claim your turf on the dance floor, make sure it is in close proximity to the balcony exit, because you will need to cool down.

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Carnaval Lounge
Photo courtesy of Beth D'Addono

Carnaval Lounge is an alt music venue that rises to the top of the dive bar heap in a city that may just have invented the genre. Like most things New Orleans, Carnaval has multiple personalities. Mondays you'll usually find a combo of comedy and burlesque for all kinds of fun. The bar is also a live rock and roll music venue, well not really it's a Goth heavy metal venue. Ok, forget that. You can catch a Cajun band for sure. Or if you're lucky, a somber Balkans folk trio that inspires what looks like Greek dancing. There's a convivial live and let live attitude here that is one of the best things about this town when it really comes together.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: It's a true alternative venue with a wide range of music styles in the mix.

Beth's expert tip: Order from the kitchen, Cozinha de Carnaval, at the bar, from a menu of Brazilian Street Food - get the garlic shrimp on a skewer!

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French Quarter

Formerly the Shim-Sham Club, this French Quarter favorite features both touring and local acts in genres from rock to metal along with the occasional burlesque show. There's a crowded bar up front that's open most nights, along with a theatre-style club in the back that hosts live music on the weekends. The vibe is kind of tired bordello meets shabby chic which adds up to a cool space to dance and hear music. The Fast Times 80s Dance Party every Thursday is jam-packed with people of all ages and features live go-go dancers and a super fun crowd of all flavors.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: OEJ's is an intimate venue with a good dance floor and a wide variety of music options.

Beth's expert tip: The weekly 80s dance party on Thursday nights is legendary.

Read more about One Eyed Jacks →

The Republic is a posh and cavernous dance club where you might find the L.A. producer and DJ Ookay one night, a house DJ another and Rebirth Brass and Bonerama the night after that. The place is pretty, with crystal chandeliers and two floors for dancing and watching the action. There are multiple bars, efficient and gracious staff and an enthusiastic and well-dressed crowd. The crowd tends to be younger, but that doesn't stop everybody else from having a great time here as well. If you're lucky you can catch Bounce night with Big Freedia - twerking will commence.

Recommended for Dance Clubs because: This bi-level dance club in the Lower Garden District is a glitzy place to rave the night away.

Beth's expert tip: Check their calendar before or at the beginning of your stay in New Orleans. If there is something that sounds even slightly interesting, get to it.

Read more about Republic New Orleans →


Meet Beth D'Addono

Beth D'Addono is a food and travel writer obsessed with flavor, exploring cultures, street music and the city of New Orleans.

Beth writes about New Orleans and other destinations for outlets...  More About Beth