There are two types of people in Miami: club people and non-club people. The former don’t mind waiting in line, paying $40 at the door, and spending all night on their feet in a crowded room where they won’t be able to hear the person next to them. The latter would rather sprint across I-95 naked than have to do any of that. But that doesn’t mean non-club people want to stay inside all night and knit. They want to dance too - or at least go to a place where dancing is a possibility. Luckily, the bars on this guide strike that happy medium.
At this point, Wynwood is absolutely filthy with awful clubs and lounges. And as those places multiply, Gramps becomes all the more important of an oasis. Come here for great cocktails, a crowd you won’t hate, and a perfectly South Florida aesthetic that feels like a mash-up between Key West, South Beach, and the Everglades. The DJs here are fantastic, and Gramps hosts the occasional live show too. If nothing else, the weekly drag night (every Thursday at 9pm) is going to inspire you to get the f*ck down on the dance floor.
From Thursday through Saturday, the upstairs bar at Miami Beach’s 27 turns into the Eagle Room. What does this mean exactly? Well, no eagles are involved, but they do have a DJ and the space basically turns into a living room dance party. It’s a fun, intimate room where it’s easy to have a conversation with strangers while waiting for a drink at the bar. This is a small bar, though, and unless you’re buying a table, try to come early because capacity is quite limited.
Every time we go to Downtown’s Mama Tried, the DJs are playing songs that are very hard not to scream along to. Things can get crowded here since it’s so small, but that’s not a bad thing if you don’t mind rubbing shoulders with people who also just realized they still know all the lyrics to Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player.” If that’s not your speed, stop by the monthly emo night (on the last Sunday of each month) for a truly wild evening where you can loudly relive all those angsty middle school feelings.
The Sylvester is a great little cocktail bar in Midtown, with a decor that feels very South Florida thrift store. It can be a relatively chill spot during Happy Hour and on weekdays, but on the weekends they have a DJ spinning a very dance-able soundtrack. Dancing is highly encouraged, and when you need to rest your feet, there’s lots of comfortable seating available - as well as some of the best cocktails in the area.
Sweet Liberty is an excellent cocktail bar with the personality of a carnival ride. Everything in here is bright and loud and the bar is literally stacked to the ceiling with alcohol they put to very delicious use. Around midnight on the weekends, Sweet Liberty usually has a crowd right in that sweet spot between annihilated and apathetic. No one’s going to step on your shoes here, but they also won’t judge you for voguing if the right song comes on. There’s usually a DJ spinning at night and occasionally they book a live band, which tends to make this place feel like a very drunk - but very fun - wedding.
Coyo Taco is a Wynwood taco shop, and you can’t really dance in the dining room without receiving some judgemental looks. However, they do have a great little speakeasy in the back, which is small enough to star in a movie called Honey I Shrunk The Club. Coyo’s little lounge is cramped and loud, but the size of the room also makes it feel like a house party. Plus, it’s always a better call than every other terrible Wynwood club. One of the best times to come here is for the longstanding Tuesday night Rum & Bass party, which (as the name implies) involves both lots of rum and lots of bass.
There are two wonderful truths at Calle Ocho’s Ball & Chain: you will never pay cover to get in and there’s always some type of live music happening. During the day, things are usually more laidback with salsa music on the sidewalk or jazz by the main bar. At night, though, things get pretty high-energy and the acts range from Cuban funk to rumba. The dance floor can be a little intimidating if the only salsa you’re familiar with comes in a jar, but every mojito you drink will help cure that anxiety.
Does a mosh-pit count as dancing? We say yes and if you agree then you’re probably going to like Las Rosas. There’s pretty much always a live band playing here, and many of them are local, with things definitely tilting towards rock. This Allapattah dive has those kinds of walls you’re slightly afraid to touch and bathrooms that make you want to hold off until you get home, but the multi-room space is just about the antithesis of your average South Beach club, which is exactly why we love it.
If Club Space is a little too club-y for your taste, you should check out Space Park. Although the drink prices might make you feel like you’re in a club, the huge outdoor venue (which is open on Fridays and Saturdays) is more laidback than its Downtown sibling. There are some good food vendors to pick from too. There’s almost always a solid band or DJ playing, but whether or not dancing is in the forecast kind of depends on who’s playing that night, so check their Instagram page for the latest programming info.
Bodega is a South Beach taco shop in the front, and a big bar in the back. It might look like a club from the outside due to the pretty significant line you’ll often come across, but inside there’s no EDM punishing your eardrums or other annoying club characteristics. It’s also - thankfully - much less claustrophobic than it seems from the street, with high ceilings and a very long bar. In addition to DJs, they have live bands every now and then too. Plus, when you’re done here, you’re only a few steps away from some decent late-night tacos for the ride home.
We all have those days when we can’t stop singing Hall & Oates in our heads. And when that happens, we go to The Anderson. This Upper East Side bar channels ’80s Miami, and is a great place to let loose Flashdance-style with some wonderful cocktails and outdated moves. They’ve got a fun little dance floor and stage inside that plays host to everything from DJs spinning ’80s jams to cover bands and karaoke.
There just aren’t a lot of places in Brickell where your average college kid would feel comfortable alongside Miamians with a thriving 401K, but Blackbird has long been a favorite of UM students, the Brickell working crowd, and anyone else looking for a boozy night out. When it’s packed, Blackbird is a little too loud to have a conversation, so dancing becomes a fitting alternative. There’s a DJ inside and sometimes live music out back underneath the Metromover tracks. Blackbird is a great final stop of the night since they’re open till 5am every night.