This casual, unassuming place, complete with low ceilings, performance fliers and photos, pulls in a regular cast of locals and curious travelers. Blues music is the specialty, and any night of the week, you'll find live musicians playing to crowds. At times, well-known talents perform; otherwise, homegrown folks show off their abilities. Either way, you'll be in for a good time. Patrons are friendly and are always eager to invite another blues-lover into their fold.
Although folks differ as to whether the bar serves the actual, mind-altering absinthe that was so favored in the 19th century (they're licensed to make their own), it does cultivate an exotic ambience that is in keeping with the mysterious liqueur. The place also maintains a strong alternative quotient, from its North African decor to its hip clientele. Of course, if you don't want to sample the latter-day absinthe, other alcoholic beverages can be had as well. Great for people-watching too.
It's no coincidence that Melkweg's name, translated, is the tongue-in-cheek 'Milky Way,' given that the complex once operated as a dairy. The revamped center-city attraction is now an entertainment and nightlife magnet, offering patrons everything from dancing and live music to theater performances and film screenings. The large venue also houses a restaurant and gallery, and it sells alcohol and hosts parties as well. If you want to be surrounded by other revelers or just require a choice of entertainments before you make a decision, Melkweg should be your first (and perhaps only) destination.
A short walk from Centraal Station, this small club is popular with a young crowd who appreciate its varied live music and party programming - which could range from a hip hop night to a reggae evening or a night of underground indie from a visiting US band. It focuses firmly on emerging talent, especially crossover acts.
Located in a canal house dating from 1662, this was once home to the notorious gay club, DOK, whose visitors included David Bowie, Elton John and Jean Paul Gaultier. Following the demise of DOK, it was patronized largely by students until a major revamp in 2005. Now its plush interior is a haven for more monied and mature folk who can enjoy cocktails and dinner in the brasserie or restaurant before taking in classic cuts in the palatial dance hall upstairs (Friday and Saturday). Although perhaps not the edgiest of hotspots, it does still make for an all-in-one evening out.
A vast, endearingly scruffy space above (and part of) a pool center (snooker, not swimming!) is the unusual location for one of Amsterdam's edgiest clubs. It's regularly inhabited by ardent followers of nights such as Club Rascal who purvey the finest indie music around; gay electro, techno and minimal night, UNK; and Burlesque Freakout, a wicked few hours of twisted vaudeville. The only drawback is that it's not in the center of town, but well worth the short trip to the suburbs.
For more than a decade, this relaxed club has plied patrons with some of the area's top live music. With a cozy interior that harks back to New Orleans, the well-attended club specializes in local talent, although it frequently brings in top-name jazz and blues performers. Gracing the venue in past years have been the Rolling Stones and Sting, for instance. Jam sessions are held regularly, and you'll find a diverse crowd hanging out most nights. Ideal for night owls and connoisseurs.
At Jimmy Woo, a luxurious night club located near Leidseplein, you'll be dazzled by the design and blown away by the sound; the club won the "Dutch Design" prize and was awarded the "best club sound in the Netherlands." Come for one of the themed club nights, dance to the DJ downstairs or relax and have a drink upstairs. Every night is a unique experience at the Woo. The space is intimate and cozy, fitting only 600 or 650 people. Tip: Be sure to arrive early or reserve a table. Dress to impress. As it's a members club, Jimmy Woo is known for its door policy and likes to minimize the guest list. Enter the Woo and embark on a night of fun.
In its former life, this live music venue was a beautiful church. These days, Christian hymns have been supplanted by more energetic rhythms, and the striking space welcomes bands from around the world. Paradiso's terrific acoustics appeal to both the audience and to performers, who range from the up-and-coming to the well-known. On weekend evenings, top DJs are booked, and club-goers dance to house, jazz and disco across a variety of levels amid the renovated architecture of the past.
One of the city's best kept nightlife secrets, this enormous café restaurant on the grounds of the former gasworks, Westergasfabriek, clears away its tables and chairs after dinner on Friday and Saturday and turns into a club. (Kitchen closes at 10pm.) Regularly drawing a 350-strong, 20- to 30- something crowd, it's perfect if you're seeking something relaxed and intimate rather than shiny and hip. Most other nights, DJs also spin and live soul, jazz or funk bands make a welcome addition to the dining menu.