On a night spent bouncing all over DC (maybe not literally, unless you travel by pogo), somewhere between the happiest of happy hours and the greasiest of late-night eats, you need to hit up a club. So we sought out DC's best.
Why this place rocks: You can crowd surf, but you can’t sit down. If you turn around, there’s a good chance you’ll find a bar. Unless you were already facing a bar, in which case, good job. There’s food if your activities in the pit work up an appetite, and there’s the best sound system in the city. No really, like HD for your ears. Don't miss the built in dive bar/make out cave with the exorcist-like stairs, you devil.
U Street Music Hall
A good ‘lil Saturday night at U Street Music Hall? RB and vodka or Natty Boh-fueled dancing in a basement venue for the underground community. This DJ-driven dance club has beats and bass that could jump-start a pacemaker. You’ve been warned -- though if you have a pacemaker this might not be your scene anyway.
If your dancing verges more towards the comedic, leave the laughter to the professionals, whether it's Joey Coco Diaz, the dirtiest man over 50, or a topless Bert Kreischer. Opt for the raunchier late night show, even if it means ignoring a front-row bachelorette who heckles the comedian because “it’s her special day".
Blues Alley Jazz Supper Club
Coming in with the most literal name in Georgetown -- wait, there’re no rhinos at Rhino, just frat guys?! -- is Blues Alley. Arrive early and don’t let the crowd cramp your style. Get some tickets, some creole, and check out this soulful institution that gives a nod to the 1920s and '30s.
It’s no coincidence that this library book-lined club has a Great Gatsby quality to it. Club owner Ryan Seelbach hails from the family who founded the Louisville, Kentucky hotel that inspired Fitzy’s masterpiece. Like Gatsby’s taste -- this spot isn’t cheap. But it’s a true nightclub -- bouncers, Belvedere bottle service, and a dearth of shoes with laces.
Eighteenth Street Lounge
For the coziest of club-going, try Eighteenth Street Lounge with its five dimly-lit rooms to explore and plush velvet couches. Gritty-swank pretty much sums it up, get ready to sip a martini while swaying to reggae. But stop selling this spot as a "secret" lounge to your friends. Just stop. They have 5000+ Facebook fans thanks to their top DJs and live shows.
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.