At some point, you wake up and realize the chapter where you tolerate going to clubs is over. Maybe it was the long lines or the horrible music or just the unrelenting stench of desperation that finally got to you. Either way, it’s all behind you now and you’re thrilled about it.
But what happens when you still want to dance? Are there actually places in LA where you can get your groove on and not abandon your dignity and credit card limit in the process? Yes. But they sure aren’t easy to track down. So we’ve done the work for you. Here are the 14 best bars where you can actually dance.
Tenants is a very Silver Lake bar, complete with a teepee on the patio and a crowd of people you vaguely recognize from Instagram and/or your improv class - but when it comes to dancing, it’s one of the best options in the neighborhood. Tenants has a main dance floor that plays mostly hip hop, and it gets incredibly crowded (read: sweaty) around midnight. Or, if you’d prefer, you can head to the bar area, where they’re usually playing oldies that make for a nice break from shooing away the stranger who keeps dancing in your personal space.
If you look at Zebulon’s calendar, you’ll see a bunch of shows lined up. And they’re usually pretty good, if you want to pay to watch a live band. But if your priority is dancing, head to this giant warehouse/bar after the shows are done. Around 10:30, Zebulon turns into a regular bar, with free admission to the huge dance floor where DJs are playing songs you and your friends know all the words to. It’s our favorite dance floor that somehow no one knows about yet.
Attached to a Super 8 Motel on Western Ave., Girl at the White Horse doesn’t at first look like the kind of place you want to spend all night dancing in. But once you get inside, you’ll find a fantastic space with a dance floor you’ll have to peel us off of at the end of the night. What it lacks in size, it makes up for with DJs playing mostly old-school hip hop and a disco ball spinning very close to your head. Drinks are expensive, but they’re very strong and some come in sippy cups. On weekends, this place can get very crowded.
The Echoplex is where you come when you want to dance uncontrollably, belt along to your favorite throwbacks, and not get all dressed up to do so. This Echo Park classic specializes in themed dance parties, with events like ’90s R&B, Emo, and pop diva mashups. The crowd is usually pretty casual - you’ll see plenty of shorts and sneakers here, because when you’re dancing this hard, you need to support your arches.
The Virgil is a bare bones bar in Virgil VIllage, and the kind of place you go to when you have a big group and no consensus on what kind of night you all want to have. The space is broken up into two fairly distinct rooms, each with their own DJ and dance floor. The front “Stage Room” tends to skew more hip hop and is slightly tamer. The “B Side,” on the other hand, is more wide-ranging with its music and gets wild on a Saturday night. The drinks are well-made, but pricey, so if you’re on a budget, we recommend a strong pre-game beforehand.
The Short Stop is one of LA’s all-time great dive bars. But you come here for one reason - to dance. And to never stop dancing. Put all your fears of fist-pumping and house music nonsense aside, this is where you go to get weird to old 80s hits and dance with several strangers in jean cut-offs. This Echo Park spot can get crowded, so make your moves early.
Akbar is the antithesis of every Weho gay bar you’re tired of waiting in line for. The neighborhood spot on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border is always easy to get into, well cocktails aren’t $16, and the crowd generally doesn’t have anything to prove. The relatively tiny back dance floor can get crowded, but it never veers towards overwhelming.
Cicada Club is one those places that reminds you Los Angeles is much cooler than it will ever get credit for. This downtown supper club has all the old Hollywood, art-deco vibes you could want and a live big band that gets the dance floor heated up early. You can go all-in for the dinner setup, or just buy separate tickets to come and only dance ($25 a piece). That might seem steep, but it’s the price you pay for time travel.
Nothing beats a weird night out in the Valley. And while we could point you in several different directions to get your strange on, nothing quite lives up the standards set over at Oil Can Harry’s. The Studio City cowboy bar is sent straight from 1987 and has as crazy of a dance floor as they come. While most nights of the week are taken up by some serious line-dancing, Saturday night is an all-disco extravaganza, and you better have brought your dancing shoes.
Is this the most underrated bar in Santa Monica? Depending on how much you like to dance to Lil’ John and The Eastside Boyz, the answer is probably yes. Located in that inland no-man’s land part of Santa Monica, The Room can be a little tricky to find, but once you do, it’s worth it. Good drinks made by cool bartenders, lots of old-school 90s rap and R&B, and plenty of room on the dance floor for you and your friends to get down.
Bootie LA is definitely not a venue. It’s a bi-monthly dance party that rotates generally between Echo Park and downtown. It’s also your absolute best option if you want to dance like an idiot for five hours straight and not have to endure rave-like conditions along the way. There’s usually plenty of room on the dance floor for you and your friends, and with theme nights that include Beyonce vs. Rihanna and Britney vs. Taylor, things get very serious very quickly.
Welcome to one of the most legendary bars on the Westside. This dime-sized joint along Wilshire is technically a karaoke place, but don’t let that deter you - the dancing here is very real. The Gaslite is definitely not where you start your evening, it’s where you end up at 12:30am dancing your soul out to a heavyset man’s jaw-dropping rendition of “What’s Love Got To With It?”.
We’re not going to sugarcoat this - Tokyo Delves is as big of a mess as you’re going to find in this city, and if you don’t come ready to embrace that, you will hate it. So open your cold heart and go experience this North Hollywood sushi restaurant for what it is: restaurant-wide sake bombs, competitive sing-offs, and you dancing on a table to the YMCA for no apparent reason. The sushi is admittedly not very good, but you’re definitely not here for that.
Not every crazy night out dancing needs to involve a sweaty dance floor and tired Kanye mash-ups. At Clifton’s, the space is sprawling and filled with people who probably have a few competitive swing dancing competitions under their belt. But don’t worry, with fantastic cocktails to be found at any of Clifton’s four separate bars, you’ll get all the liquid encouragement you need.