Those looking for a weird, over-the-top, Burning Man-esque romp in dance party form should look no further than House of Yes. This once illicit venue is now perfectly legal, though your mouth will still likely hit the floor upon walking in. Some have called it the best party in New York. Others refuse to try to explain it. And they're right - House of Yes is best experienced rather than talked about. Expect loud beats, twirling circus performers, men in pseudo-drag and costumed women dancing next to guys in flannel drinking a beer. The theme? It changes depending on the night, but it's anything goes and everyone's welcome, which is refreshing, to say the least.
Though the Jane Hotel Ballroom has slipped a bit from its days of glory, it's still a great place to visit if you're looking for the kind of night that includes dancing on tables. The hotel used to be a haven for sailors looking for a place to rest their weary bones, but we'd be willing to bet there's not much rest taking place here on the weekends. From high-fashion models bopping to the beats to tech superstars throwing back vodka martinis, The Jane Hotel caters to a youthful crowd looking for a good time. Keep in mind that you're in New York, so don't be surprised if the party doesn't get popping until late.
Lavo's DJs mash up hip-hop, pop, house and EDM to create an atmosphere that's excessively over the top in the best possible way. Not at all for the faint of heart, don't be surprised when you're swept up into the chaos and bounced around the dance floor only to find yourself stumbling out into the street at the first signs of daylight. From scantily dressed girls dancing on tables to Europeans fist-pumping along to Tiesto, Lavo is all energy, all opulence, all the time. Planning to drink? Stack your wallet with cash and be prepared to walk out empty-handed - this spot is one of the priciest on the list.
A wild card on the list that's too-often overlooked is Mehanata, a Bulgarian club that's home to what seems like a band of traveling gypsies and a wicked vodka ice room. Skip the ice room and don't waste any time jumping into the downright dirty dancing that's surely taking place across Mehanata's two floors. Trippy gypsy punk collides with a blatant disregard for anything that doesn't resemble a good time. A hidden party house in plain view, your friends will think you've smuggled them to Eastern Europe and not to the Lower East Side for a night unlike any they've ever seen.
Black Flamingo's official designation on Google is "Vegan Restaurant." Don't let this confuse you. While it's true that generally good meatless fare is served here, it's the basement you should care about. Decked out in a pink-walled Miami Vice, 1970's vibe, Black Flamingo is where people who don't care to see or be seen come to get down. The music is funky house - more playful and lighthearted than heavy, thumping bass, and often features an expansive array of vinyl. It's where the older hipsters - you know, the ones who've ditched their PBRs for high-end cocktails - come when they're looking to bust a groove thang. And we've gotta admit, the neighborhood's better for it.
Marquee fell out of party people's good graces for a few years but has bounced back with a vengeance after a complete overhaul in 2012. With outposts in Sydney and Vegas, Marquee NYC is essentially one huge room and a balconied VIP area that pulls international electronic DJs on a weekly basis. After paying the cover, you'll join forces with a mix of sweaty New Yorkers and curious out-of-towners. Marquee also does production better than anyone else, and their dedication to all things 'nightlife' is astounding. Break away from the dance floor to take in the dancers, the costumes and the clientele.
Sure, you could come to Brooklyn Bowl to lace up a pair of slick shoes and hurl a couple rocks in the direction of a bunch of pins. But even if you're not into a game of 10-frames, you should still add Brooklyn Bowl to your top list of nightlife joints to visit. In fact, most people at Brooklyn Bowl aren't bowling. Instead, they're catching up on their favorite musical acts or cutting a rug behind the lanes. In addition to the games, this venue has live shows every night of the week, from little known rising stars to musician royalty, including Talib Kweli, RJD2, The Hold Steady and St. Lucia.
At Bembe, lounge decor consists of found and recycled objects from all over NYC, lending a "lost-and-found" type vibe to the interior. The music also has remnants of this same style with live musicians and DJs playing everything from Latin beats to reggae and Arabic jams. It's tiny and patrons don't mind bumping and grinding with strangers, but if that's not your style, Bembe probably isn't your best bet. Unlike some spots on this list, drinks aren't outrageously priced, but the bar only takes cash, so stack your wallet before walking in. On busy nights the club also charges a cover, so check the website to make sure the music is your speed before forking over your dough.
With arguably the chicest bathrooms and sexiest views in NYC, Le Bain is notoriously one of the hardest doors in the city. Perhaps that's because this lively club is connected to The Boom Boom Room, one of Manhattan's exclusive celebrity watering holes, or maybe it's the hot tubs built directly into the dance floor. Either way, dress to impress and try not to take it to heart if you're turned away once (or more) before gaining entry. If you happen to arrive early, you'll have better luck, but beware that the club stays fairly empty until the clock strikes midnight.
Subterranean Home Sweet Home is a classic Lower East Side haunt that isn't *only* a dance spot. This is a great place to come if half of your crew would prefer to stand around while the other half wants to get grimy cutting a rug. Just be sure to let them know that they'll likely be bowled over by the enthusiastic dancing crowd. On the most popular night of the week (Friday), a DJ spins the '50s and '60s hits amongst the hanging taxidermy and grandma-era couches. Between the music and the atmosphere, Home Sweet Home does a fantastic job of setting itself apart from the rest of the spots on this list.