Dancing is a way to tell the world how you’re feeling. And if you want to tell the world that you’re feeling like a drunk version of those blow-up men you see at car dealerships, you should be able to do that in a place that isn’t a club.
These are the bars where dancing happens. Some of them are almost clubs, but you probably won’t have to pay a cover or deal with the shame of being turned away (as if that could happen to you). Pick one, and show the world how little shame you have.
Sure, you could sit in the front at the Three Diamond Door and drink an old fashioned, but if it’s a weekend, head to the back. In the rear, you’ll find another bar, some booths, and a big open space. That space will probably be crowded, but that’s all the more reason to dance. If it were just you standing there, dancing might be incredibly embarrassing. Not the case when you have bodies to hide you from the world. So carve out a little room on this impromptu Bushwick dance floor and remind everyone why no one calls you Captain Dance.
Bossa Nova is a dark, divey dance hall in Bushwick. And if you get there early enough, there’s no cover. It might not be very crowded, but that gives you plenty of time to hone your moves and get a buzz going. We suggest you order a bottle of the caffeinated German soft-drink known as Club Mate, chug a fourth of it, then ask the bartender to fill the rest up with the spirit of your choice. Once you have one of those inside you, hit the dance floor. Wait for the smoke machine to let out a burst, then hop on in (it’s like jump-rope). The music will be house or techno, and the trick to dancing is to not give f*ck.
No bar is perfect. There are good things and bad things about The Woods. On the plus side, the ceilings are high, there’s a huge backyard, and there’s both music you can dance to and a dedicated space for your dancing. The catch is: it gets crowded. Like, crazy crowded. If the place is at capacity, and you have to use the bathroom, you’re better off avoiding the line and looking for a bathroom down the street. Still, if all you want to do is drink excessively and get down on the dance floor with someone you just met, The Woods is definitely for you. For a sloppy night in Williamsburg, this is the place.
Full disclosure: the Jane Hotel used to be more of a club, and it still sort of leans that way. There are still bouncers and a standard-issue doorman, but now it’s less hard to get in. And once you’re past the door, you’ll enter one of the single finest drinking spaces in all of NYC. Beyond the front bar, you’ll find a huge room with a fireplace and a bunch of worn-out furniture. The music might be Drake or it might be Van Morrison, and the crowd will probably be young and annoying. The good news is, the dancing opportunities are boundless. If you see something, dance on it. Table? Dance on it. Couch? Dance on that as well. Cheetah-print ottoman? You know what to do.
If there’s an open space in a dark bar with loud music, drunk people will turn that space into a dance floor. And that’s exactly what happens at the Caribbean restaurant/bar Battery Harris on weekends. When you get inside, you’ll see a bar to the left and some tables to the right. Claim that space in between, and dance. A frozen Dark and Stormy will help you get limber, and if you need to catch your breath, there’s a big backyard. Friday and Saturday nights there will be large crowd (it’s Williamsburg, after all), but you should still have ample room to practice those moves you’ve been learning on YouTube.
There are two venues at Kinfolk. Kinfolk 90 is a coffee shop during the day and a bar at night, while the neighboring Kinfolk 94 is more of a typical nightclub. Keep in mind, however, that this is Brooklyn and you won’t get the same crowd as you’ll find at Le Baron, Le Bain, or Le Canard (although we made that last one up). If you want a high-quality dance floor with a well-placed disco ball and you don’t mind waiting in line, go to Kinfolk 94 (open Thursday through Saturday). If, on the other hand, you’re with a few friends and you don’t mind making a fool of yourself by a big open window, hit up Kinfolk 90 for all your dance-party needs.
The Blind Barber is a barbershop in the daytime. So probably only half of that name is ironic. At night, you walk through the East Village shop to a hidden back room (that used to be a novelty when speakeasies were a thing). There might be a doorman out front, but you shouldn’t have trouble getting in unless they’re at capacity (unlikely). Technically, there’s no dance floor, but there’s just enough floor space to get something going. So grab a drink, and see who’s a better dancer: you, or the less drunk people around you.
We’re including this one, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into. These days, the upper part of the Lower East Side is one big frat party - and not even a good frat party with non-light beer and free snacks and sh*t. Go at your own risk. We can, however, suggest No Fun for weeknight shenanigans. On slower nights, you’ll pretty much have the whole dance floor to yourself. So dance like an idiot. Seriously, no one will see you (it’s all the way in the back). This isn’t the classiest place, but they do serve fully-functional alcohol, and if you want to dance with some friends on a weekday, go for it.
The dance floor at Home Sweet Home is surrounded by banquettes. So if you get exhausted at any point, you can take a seat. Or if you’re an amateur-dance aficionado, you can just sit all night and watch. When you need to bust a move in a divey setting on the Lower East Side, this is where you go. On weekends, expect a crowd of young people sweating pure vodka. During the week, however, it stays pretty calm. Different DJ's play different stuff every night, but expect good music, and be comforted by the fact that a disco ball will be watching over the dance floor always.
Los Feliz starts on ground level and goes down two more floors. Get all the way to bottom, and you’ll find a dance party. On weekends, there’s usually a line to get in - and it’s worth enduring if all you want is to get drunk and dance very poorly around a bunch of interns and young professionals who also dance poorly. Obviously, you shouldn’t go to Los Feliz every night, but when you want to dance on the Lower East Side, it’s a viable option. And if you want dinner before you dance, there’s a completely serviceable Mexican restaurant on the first floor.
The Bowery Electric consists of an upstairs bar and basement venue where bands play shows. Now, the Bowery Electric isn’t the youngest kid on the block (or the coolest, for that matter), but it’s a good place to dance with a group of friends. Dancing occurs in the basement (after the shows), and the music down there is all over the place. You won’t find The Bowery Electric cute or charming, but this is a good place to drink away your depth perception and get down to some music other bars in the area won’t be playing.
The Park isn’t really a club, but it is surrounded by them. And that means it’s gonna attract a lot of the sort of people who knew, from a very young age, that they wanted bottle service in their lives. There are multiple floors at The Park, and, as a rule of thumb, they get rowdier the higher you go. The first floor is a restaurant and lounge (with a kitchen open until 1 am on weekends), and at the very top is a penthouse where you can dance around wicker furniture. Come here when you don’t want to commit to a nightclub, but you want to dance somewhere that might as well be one.
Freehold looks like a very nice hotel lobby. There are few rooms inside and big outdoor space with tables and ping pong. During the day, people sit around and work on their laptops (and day drink on weekends). At night, it becomes an upscale bar. People begin filtering in as the sun goes down, and when the crowd gets big enough, dancing starts. Technically, there’s no dance floor, but there’s plenty of space between tables to get your Patrick Swayze on. Expect club vibes and the sort of attractive young people who gravitate to the bars along the Williamsburg waterfront.
Beauty Bar has been in the East Village for over two decades. The front room looks like an old-school beauty salon turned dive bar, and there’s an open space in the back where they host comedy shows and other events. Once the events are over, this becomes the dance floor. Late night, you can head back and dance to whatever they might be playing. The music is typically older, so don’t expect Top 40. Just grab some cheap drinks and do your best to dance to a song that might have been on the radio while you were still jamming to “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Baby Beluga.”
Push comes to shove, you could get some dancing done at The Winslow. It isn’t a club by any means, but there’s a crowd on weekends (and that’s a key ingredient of any decent dance party). The Winslow is a very nice pub on 14th Street, and it’s the sort of place you go with a group of friends and sip on whiskey ginger while you evaluate neighboring young people with your peripheral vision. At a certain point in the night, however, the moon gets high enough and the crowd gets drunk enough and dancing becomes not inappropriate. It only takes one person with no shame to get something started. Let that person be you.