There are two types of people in Miami: club people and non-club people. The former don’t mind waiting in line, paying $20 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. Every once in awhile, they want to dance too - or at least go to a place where dancing is a possibility. These 10 places should strike that happy medium. You can find a dance floor and feel like you’re at a party at any of these spots, without having to take $35 tequila shots and pretend like you care that Diplo is 300 feet to your left.
There are no true clubs in Wynwood, but there are an increasing number of places that are every bit as annoying - with soundtracks that violate the Geneva convention, lines around the block, and bars so crowded you look down and can’t tell which shoes are yours. 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 Florida attitude somewhere between Key West 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.
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 a jam 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.
Inside the Nautilus Hotel, past an actual barbershop, you’ll find Blind Barber - which really feels more like an upscale lounge than a bar. It’s a very stylish room and a good place to feel like you’re in South Beach without feeling too much like you’re in South Beach. There’s a DJ playing songs you could certainly dance to, but there’s also plenty of seating on the big velvet couches to chill out and enjoy the bar’s really solid cocktails.
A lot of the original Wynwood businesses can’t even afford a parking spot in the neighborhood anymore, but thankfully Wood is still going strong. This incredibly popular bar is almost all outdoors, and you’ll hear pretty much only hip-hop here - and a lot of old school stuff. It has big wooden bleachers that encircle the unofficial dance floor, which usually smells like weed and cheeseburgers thanks to BND Burger next door and, well, ya know... If you can brave the line to get in (which tends to get very long on weekends), you’re in for a good time.
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 here can be a little intimidating if the only salsa you’re familiar with comes in a jar, but that’s still much better than being in a room full of creeps who want to rub their overpriced ripped jeans all over you.
Every time we go to Downtown’s Mama Tried, the DJs are playing songs that make us roll our eyes at first, but have us simultaneously screaming along and fist-pumping by the first chorus. 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 somehow know all the lyrics to Big Pun’s “Still Not a Player.” If that’s not your speed, stop by for the monthly emo night to relive all those angsty middle school feelings.
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 at this Allapattah dive. It’s got 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.
Bodega looks like a club from the outside due to the pretty significant line you’ll often come across. The people in that line might be dressed like they’re ready for bottle service, but inside there’s no EDM punishing your eardrums and you won’t have to pay $25 for a beer. It’s also - thankfully - much less claustrophobic than it seems from the street, with high ceilings and a very long bar. They do live music every Wednesday too, and we can’t think of a club that sells tacos this good.
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 Smiths cover bands and karaoke. Check their calendar (this place is good about posting events on Facebook) to see what you’re in for - or just show up in leg warmers and hope for the best.
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.