After the Sun Sets, Seattle Sizzles at These Dancing Hot Spots

As a progressive and culturally open city, Seattle was early to the club culture phenomenon. When disco waned and electronic beats took over nightclubs across the land, the Emerald City was right on the forefront of that trend with clubs like Neighbours, one of the city’s original LGBBT nightspots. Opened in 1983, the innovative club is still in action, but it now has plenty of competition in its own Capitol Hill neighborhood, as well as in Belltown. Those two nightlife hotspots are home to the city’s largest concentration of underground clubs and swank Euro-style, ultra-lounge spaces, which share the nightlife landscape with chic hotel lounges and live music venues.

Of course, dozens of rock dives with dance floors exist, too, but in terms of electronic dance music, the Showbox at the Market manages to bring in top current touring acts from the genre. Still, those shows are more about seeing the performer live than dancing until the wee hours. For that type of nocturnal activity, there is no shortage of valid venues, and each specializes in subgenres of dance-club culture.

As practical as it is forward-thinking, the Seattle club scene features chameleons like the Alibi Room, which could pass for a frontier bar in daylight but turns out churning beats after dark. For sheer glitz and pretty people, there are spots including Trinity Nightclub, Noc Noc and Re-Bar.


Located in the historic Oddfellows building, Century Ballroom's vintage locale perfectly suits its mission: to keep ballroom and social dancing a thriving part of the Seattle nightlife scene. If the venue's popularity is any indicator, the mission is succeeding. The elaborately renovated ballroom space (with a 2,000-square-foot dance floor) is the place in the city to revive the grand days of formal evenings out on the town. Dance nights, often with live music, set the perfect tone with dining, drinks and dancing under the same roof. Meals and a full bar are available right across the hallway at the Tin Table. Whether you enjoy salsa, swing, tango, tap or burlesque, Century Ballroom or the adjacent East Hall offers all that and more. And for those who need instruction or just a chance to brush up on their rug-cutting skills, Century Ballroom hosts fun and friendly classes and lessons.

Elegance and style characterize this hip downtown bar, which pulls in its share of attractive young professionals. Dark furnishings, candles and a fireplace all add a note of intimacy, and ceiling-mounted stars twinkle in the dimness. Depending on when you're there, you'll find vocalists, jazz bands or DJs spinning a variety of tunes as patrons boogie on the dance floor. If you get hungry, there's a variety of foods to satiate, and of course, drinks of all sorts are widely available, too. Given its popularity, Baltic can get somewhat crowded, but its fantastic ambience and great entertainment more than compensate.

Dim and atmospheric, this venue presents entertainment in a variety of guises. Most frequently, the popular venue serves as a vibrant dance club, spinning hip-hop and disco from its repertoire of musical genres. On the other hand, at times, Re-bar hosts theater performances; notable productions try to expand cultural ground, and some put a contemporary (and often gay) spin on classic works. From time to time, you'll also find live bands playing. The crowd encompasses a diverse mix, who are all certain to provide a fresh atmosphere and a cool combination of guaranteed fun.

Pioneer Square

This welcome addition to Pioneer Square offers a hip twist on the usual club scene. Works by local artists provide upscale decor, and food offerings like fried calamari rings with tzatziki are a step above typical club fare. Dancing is taken seriously; hip-hop, funk, industrial and trance boom over the intimate dance floor, and the club stays open until the wee hours on weekends to accommodate hardcore partiers. Live jazz is not unheard of in the earlier evening hours, and on occasion DJs take requests. Nightly club events showcase "the best sound system downtown," and guests can get on the guest list for free (visit the venue's website).

Showbox at the Market
Photo courtesy of Showbox

Although it's experienced a variety of incarnations, the current-day Showbox is a must-visit place to catch touring bands. Amid Art Deco columns, young and hip crowds clamor to hear and see their favorite groups. There's even a dance floor on which to show off one's moves if the spirit strikes. Plus, several bars accommodate patrons with a good menu of libations. If hunger strikes, check out the Green Room for some Mexican-inspired pub grub. To be one of the first in the door, head to the Green Door (if you're 21 or older) before the show to enjoy food and drinks--and to be granted earlier entrance to the venue. DJs spin tunes and rock the space when bands aren't booked.

North Metro

Although a very different kind of dance club, Seattleites who like to move their bodies (especially when it comes to two-steppin') flock to this happening Green Lake venue that's known for its live country music scene. Seattle's not just about grunge anymore, and Little Red Hen is a perfect example of why. Here, you can dance, you can sing, and you can listen to live tunes every day of the week. There are free line and country dance lessons, and for nights when a band isn't booked, you can always show off your chops by stepping on stage for karaoke.

In previous years, this Capitol Hill club was one of Seattle's best venues for dancing, and although the competition has increased, Neighbours still offers a good time and has loyal fans. Many of its patrons are gay and many are straight, now that the place has expanded its reach. Thanks to a large dance floor, clubbers show off their moves with abandon, shaking and gyrating to everything from techno and disco to R&B and even those pop tunes that so many seem to disavow yet love nonetheless. Everyone's welcome, and you're certain to see a wide variety of patrons. After all, fun has no boundaries.


A popular restaurant by day, the Alibi Room really comes alive at night. Owned by a group of filmmakers, the club works to support independent films and their creators, by fostering an artistic dialogue among patrons and making scripts available for public perusal. If that's a bit heavy for you, just come and dance to the mixed rhythms of rotating DJs or enjoy one of their specialty vodka drinks. You'll also find live music from time to time, along with a great wine list and tasty appetizers. A real local favorite, Alibi plays host to everyone from the eccentric to the street smart.

Three nightlife experiences in one, Trinity caters to those clubgoers always looking for something new. The most action can be found in the Main Room, which features a spacious dance floor, state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems and a DJ booth constructed from a pulpit. Relax with a cocktail and tasty dim sum or sushi in the elegant, scarlet-hued Card Room, and then surrender yourself to the beat in the ultra-trendy, futuristically-lit Blue Room. The club attracts top talent from across the country and beyond, folks who spin a fresh mix of Top 40, hip-hop, house and more. So go ahead and get your dance on.

Photo courtesy of LoFi

This funky treasure of a venue on Eastlake is a favorite hot spot for those who simply love to dance. The happening club hosts everything from DJ nights to rap, indie rock and improv acts, showcasing both national and international talents. The space features two rooms and two bars, both with separate sound systems. There is also a small room adjacent to the front bar which boasts cozy seating and a few vintage arcade games. This 21-and-over venue hosts highly popular soul nights that draw loyal fans, among other themed evenings that range from 90s dance parties to hip-hop extravaganzas.


Meet Corinne Whiting

Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's...  More About Corinne