At some point in your life, you’ll 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 have to sell your self-worth to get into? Yes. But they sure aren’t easy to track down. So we’ve done the dirty work for you. Here are the 12 best bars where you can actually dance.
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 80’s hits and dance with several strangers in jean cut-offs. This Echo Park spot can get crowded, so make your moves early.
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 nights 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 weird, inland no-man's land part of Santa Monica, The Room can be a little tricky to find, but once you do, it’s so worth it. Good drinks made by cool bartenders, lots of old-school 90’s 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 do like an idiot for five hours straight and not have to endure rave-like conditions along the way. The large venues usually have plenty of room on the dance floor for you and your friends, and the crowd is mixed, attractive, and most likely in costume. With theme nights that include Beyonce vs. Rihanna and Britney vs. Taylor, things get very serious very quickly.
We’re not going to sugar coat 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. Think restaurant-wide saki bombs, competitive sing-offs, and you dancing on a table to the YMCA for no apparent reason. The sushi here is admittedly not very good, but good news - YOU DON'T HAVE TO BUY ANY IF YOU DON'T WANT.
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.
Despite being in the same general category as the aggressively-themed Davey Wayne’s, No Vacancy, and La Descarga, Harvard & Stone feels decidedly tame. The factory-themed bar in Thai Town does live music the majority of the week, but on select nights there's a DJ. Either way, people are dancing and having a hell of a time in a low-key environment. Also, the cocktails are excellent.
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?”.
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.
Honeycut has been one of downtown’s best options to get your groove on for a while, but their new weekday concept, The Deep End, takes things a different level. AN INTERGALACTIC LEVEL. Think light-up dance floors, lots of David Bowie vibes, and outer- space themed cocktails that are actually delicious. Weekend crowds do get rough, so get there early and claim your spot on the dance floor.
If you want to argue that Break Room is way more than a bar, we won’t fight you on it. For being a relatively small place, there are many ways to have a fun night here. You could definitely go big and get a bottle and rent out one of their private karaoke rooms, or you can just stroll in and drink and dance like a regular person. It’s on this list, though, because that dance floor is just a good time. The music is fantastic, it’s never obnoxiously crowded, and you just walked out feeling great that you didn’t go clubbing again.