Where To Go When You Want To Dance But Hate Clubs
Just because you don’t want to pay $25 for a beer doesn’t mean you don’t want to dance. So go to one of these spots instead.
There are two types of people in this town: club people and non-club people. The ones who love Miami clubs don’t mind waiting in line, paying $20 to $100 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.
photo credit: Courtesy Understory
Understory is a Little River house that’s been converted into a venue and hosts all kinds of performances and events. It's not always a place to dance—but it very much is so one night a week for a party called Rhythm Portal. Imagine a drum circle. Now imagine one that's actually fun, with music that doesn't suck. That's what Rhythm Portal is. For about 90 minutes, an all-percussion band jams out, and is usually joined by a guest musician. It's a fun time where you can dance around in a huge backyard with cocktails and wine within arms reach. It takes place every Wednesday (although that can change, so check out Understory's Instagram for the latest schedule). This is a ticketed event, and you can buy one online.
photo credit: @gabrielmatarazzo
Terras at Life House Little Havana
Terras is our favorite rooftop in town, and this is thanks to both the great cocktails and the wonderful view of the Downtown skyline. The dance floor isn't always active. During the week, the Little Havana spot is more of a space to drink, eat, and chat. But on the weekends there's usually a DJ playing disco, funk, and more very dance-able music underneath the night sky. And on a particularly lovely evening, there's probably no dance floor in Miami as gorgeous as this. Keep an eye on their Instagram for the most current info about their programming.
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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 tear that dance floor to shreds.
At night, 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 and things get more energetic. 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 Drink & Supply Co.
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 at night and occasionally they book a live band, which tends to make this place feel like a very drunk (but very fun) wedding reception.
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.
Ball & Chain
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.
Bodega Taqueria y Tequila
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 it feels like a hybrid bar/club situation. 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.
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.