22 LA Bars Where You Can Dance guide image

LAGuide

22 LA Bars Where You Can Dance

Forget clubs—these are the best spots where you can actually dance.

At some point, you wake up and realize you can no longer tolerate going to clubs. Maybe it’s the long lines, or the horrible music, or just the unrelenting stench of desperation that finally get to you. Regardless, 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 23 best bars where you can actually dance.

THE SPOTS

The Continental Club review image

The Continental Club

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116 W 4th Street, Los Angeles
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This swanky DTLA cocktail bar is truly underground: you’ll find the entrance through a dark staircase in an alley. But once you’re inside, it’ll feel like one big nightclub. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday night, the basement bar fills up with people who just want to chant lyrics to the latest Burna Boy record. Doors open at 10pm, but these crowded dance parties keep jumping until 2am most nights. If you’re looking for a more low-key night of two-stepping with a date, drop by on Thursday for live jazz performed by local musicians. There’s usually no cover to get in, but drinks here typically cost around $20.

Chinatown’s Melody Lounge is good for an energetic night out, depending on who is DJing. The space is somewhere between a dive bar and a sparse cocktail lounge, but someone is spinning vinyl records in the corner here every night of the week. Paper lanterns bathe the room in a sultry red glow while a  mix of tropical house, Latin trap, future beats, soul, funk (or whatever else the DJs feel like playing) thumps the walls. On weekends, expect to do a lot of dancing next to strangers wearing high socks and loafers.

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From the outside, El Cid looks like a random door frame along Sunset Blvd. But walk down the steep flight of stairs and you’ll pop out into a hidden dance party. On weekends, the cover is usually $10 after 10:30pm. There’s a patio outside lined with leather boots and a long wooden bar, plus a dancefloor inside where you'll find nightly events ranging from live music to flamenco lessons. The cocktails are cheap, the crowd is cool, and the two-tiered patio has plenty of room to spread out with a big group of friends.

Homage, a microbrewery and restaurant in the middle of industrial Chinatown, is made for people who love beer but also want to dance. There’s a pleasant patio out front where you might spot a couple of toddlers with their tattooed parents. But the real scene is inside the garage, which has a long bar counter, a spinning disco ball, and a DJ spinning vinyl records behind a monochromatic booth. Most people come here to sip housemade IPAs and snack on scallop crudo during the day, but on Friday and Saturday nights, the dance floor is packed until 1am.


The moment you step onto the jam-packed dance floor at Gold Diggers, you’ll feel like an extra in an early 2000s Ciara music video. This dark, divey dance hall in East Hollywood hosts free DJ sets and ticketed live performances almost every night of the week. And it’s one of the few places in LA where the people actually dance. Gold Diggers is part bar, part club, and part boutique hotel—so depending on how your night goes, you could theoretically stay the night. Bring a group the next time you decide to unleash that new shirt you bought, and prepare to sweat it out while dancing to funk and soul jams under a crystal chandelier. 


We love Resident because no matter what you’re looking to get into on any given day, you can find it at this indoor/ outdoor bar in the Arts District that doubles as a music venue. If you’re looking to casually drink outside and flirt with the dog next to you, Resident’s patio opens every day at noon with a bar inside an Airstream and water misters to keep your body temperature under control. But if the night is ripe for some dancing, head inside where there’s always a DJ/band lighting up the stage.


photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee

The Little Friend review image

The Little Friend

Trying to find great places to dance on the Westside isn’t easy, especially if you don’t like paying for bottle service (we don’t) or waiting in line (we also don’t). Fortunately, Venice’s Little Friend is our refuge in this part of town. The sibling to Silver Lake’s The Friend, this bar plays actual records in a small space that makes you feel like you’re partying at the Peach Pit After Dark. They’ve got all kinds of themed dance nights, like disco, house, and “Madre Mondays” when they have all-night Happy Hour and lots of tequila.

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 stranger's jaw-dropping rendition of “What’s Love Got To With It?”


On most nights, you might assume The Lash is a gay bar. But it’s actually a DTLA cocktail spot that hosts a bunch of gay events and techno dance parties. The crowd on the buzzy dance floor changes drastically depending on the party schedule, and that’s exactly why we love it here. You can start with Happy Hour drinks on a Friday night and watch as the industrial space fills with drag queens and club kids. Or drop in at 1am on a Saturday to find a crowd of 20-somethings bobbing along to a house mix from a Berlin DJ. Most of the ticketed events at The Lash are free admission before 11pm, so come early if you don’t want to pay a cover charge.


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 and a huge dance floor where DJs are playing songs you and your friends know all the words to. It’s our favorite dance spot that, somehow, no one knows about yet.


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 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, because this is where you go to get weird to old ’80s hits and dance with 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 dance floor in the back can get crowded, but it never veers towards overwhelming.


Another great gay bar, Precinct is a massive spot in a warehouse in Downtown LA. The drinks are affordable, the drag shows are rowdy, and the crowd is a whole lot of fun. Oh, and in addition to being affordable, those drinks are also extremely strong, so there’s a good chance that you and whomever you’re dancing with are going to help each other piece tonight together tomorrow.


Cicada Club is one those places that remind 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 dance (they usually run $20-25). That might seem steep, but it’s the price you pay for time travel.


Just to be clear: On weekends, Bar Lubitsch is an absolute slopfest. But it’s also an extremely fun, wild bar, and, under the right circumstances, exactly what you need on a Friday night. The backroom fills up with people ready to grind the night away to DJ Khaled songs with vodka sodas in hand. The front bar, though, has surprisingly good drinks, including a negroni made with vodka and Campari aged in oak barrels, and a deadly Moscow Mule.


Is this the most underrated bar in Santa Monica? Depending on how much you like to dance to Lil Jon & The East Side 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 low.


The Virgil is a dive bar in East Hollywood with two different dance floors—one in the front, and one through a door in the back. And you should be heading straight to the back bar, where you’ll find a dark, massive dance floor with a DJ playing pop tracks from the last 30 years. The drinks are expensive, but that generally comes with the territory of being in a dance-y bar on the Eastside—just take a shot or two of tequila before you hop in your Lyft, and you’ll be set for the night.


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 while doing so. There’s usually plenty of room on the dance floor for you and your friends, and with theme nights that include Beyoncé vs. Rihanna and Britney vs. Taylor, things get very serious very quickly.


With two floors—one jade green, the other a sultry dark red—in the middle of Chinatown, General Lee’s is a guaranteed night of style. DJs spin classic hip hop, R&B, moody pop, and Sade all night long, and drinks are made fast and strong. Everything, from the wooden tables upstairs to the plush velvet couches to the vintage DJ booth has that old-school Chinatown look, and on any given night, you might see college kids dancing their butts off or 30-year-olds nursing a tiki cocktail in the corner. 


LA loves bars with weird entrances more than most people like their families. And at Davey Wayne’s, your route is through a run-down refrigerator in a garage. And on the other side of that run-down refrigerator? The 1970s house party of your drunken dreams. Chill out in the living room and listen to the live band, or get rowdy in the backyard with the snow-cone machine and maybe another band on the roof. It’s all insane and gimmicky, but if you can’t find fun at Davey Wayne’s, we can’t help you.

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Harlowe Bar

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By day, Harlowe is a Weho bar with an Old Hollywood theme that’s great for networking. By night, it transforms into the post-grad version of Jock Jams night at DKE. But that also makes it a fun place to dance on a Saturday night. The DJs play mostly hip-hop and pop, so there’s a good chance you’ll know every word of every song - and a 100% chance you’ll be singing along after a few of their draft Old Fashioneds. Expect a wait if you get there after 10:30 or so.

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