Part iconic music venue, and part relentless party haven, D.C.'s 9:30 club is something to behold. The dual-floored space often approaches its 1,200 person capacity, packing its ground floor as well as its wrap-around balcony. Everyone (who's anyone) from Bob Dylan and The Beastie Boys, to Adele and deadmau5 has walked 9:30's stage, while on performer-less nights, the venue hosts a DJ (complete with a light show), instantly converting the audience standing room into a spirited dance floor. You can't sit down (but maybe you can crowd surf), the music is deafeningly loud (but always good), and there is a dive bar tucked into the corner of the main floor (which doubles as a convenient make out cave). The place even has a rewards program for drinks, tickets, and merch to honor its most dedicated regulars.
U Street Music Hall is an unpretentious basement spot for you to go catch your favorite DJs and get your boogie on. The come-as-you-are door policy, friendly staff, and lack of a bottle service setup make this an awesomely approachable dance club.
DC Improv is the place to go to check out local talent and national tours deliver laughs from the same stage. To sweeten the deal, the space includes a bar, restaurant, and comedy school for those who want to try standing on the other side of the microphone.
Blues Alley is a brick-walled, intimate spot where you can check out world-class blues and jazz acts in Georgetown. The tickets and food/drink minimum are well worth it, as you might catch the likes of Herbie Hancock or Chick Corea hanging out with the audience after their sets.
Located in South Dupont, The Huxley is divided into two rooms: the Ballroom, with its giant gold chandelier and dance floor, and the Library, a lounge for those who prefer to kick back and check things out. Library humor!
Eighteenth Street Lounge holds five dimly-lit rooms of live music and DJs for you to explore while impressing your out-of-town friends by showing them this "secret" lounge that's really not-so-secret anymore. Show up on Wednesdays for a sweet reggae night, backed by a live band.