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 less-sober version of those blow-up figures you see at car dealerships, you should be able to do that in a place that isn’t a club. So here are some bars where dancing happens. Pick one, then pull up some YouTube videos and figure out how to dance.
Nowadays is a huge indoor-outdoor bar in the part of Bushwick that’s essentially Queens. They have dancing inside and host lots of cool events, but our favorite thing about Nowadays is their weekly outdoor dance party called Mister Sunday. The crowd is a good mix of younger people, older people, kids, and dogs, the DJs only play vinyl, and there are strictly enforced no-cell-phone rules under the disco ball on the dance floor. If you can think of a better way to spend a summer Sunday, please send us a text invitation. Until then, you know where to find us.
When it comes to Prospect Heights, unless you’re getting a little drunk and dancing in the grass at Prospect Park, Friends and Lovers is the best place to move your body in an intentionally-rhythmic way. This is a cash-only bar and music venue with a bar in the front and a room for dancing in the back. It gets crowded on the weekends with people who probably won’t have any memory of Bill Clinton’s presidency.
Rose Gold has a fog machine and a few neon signs, and, if it were in Manhattan, it would have things like bottle service and a strict door policy. Fortunately, it’s below a restaurant in Bushwick (called Cape House), and if you get here early enough, you won’t have a problem getting in. The space isn’t huge, which means that the whole place is essentially a dance floor.
If you want to dance in Manhattan without being surrounded by teenagers, Et Al. is a lounge on the LES that should work well for you. Every Thursday night they have disco parties that are worth the high probability of feeling unpleasant at work the next morning. They play great music that ranges from disco to classic rock to pop, and there are also life-size pink teddy bears placed around the place, in case you can’t find someone to dance with. On weekends, the door here can be unpredictable, so come early or have a backup plan.
Sure, you could sit in the front of Three Diamond Door and sip an Old Fashioned, but if it’s a weekend, you should head straight to the back. There you’ll find another bar, some booths, and a big, open space. That space will probably be crowded, which is all the more reason to dance. Because if it were just you dancing alone, things might get incredibly embarrassing incredibly fast.
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 music you can dance to and a dedicated space for your dancing. The catch is: it gets extremely 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 something relatively cheap and dance with someone you just met, The Woods is here for you.
Black Flamingo is a vegan Mexican restaurant in Williamsburg that turns into a bar at night. Upstairs, there’s a lounge area where you can hang out and have both a cocktail and a conversation with someone. Downstairs you’ll find a little basement that gets dark, loud, and crowded. In other words, that’s where you want to be dancing. Expect crowds on weekends, and get there before midnight if you don’t want to pay a cover or wait in line, because there’s a good chance that there will be both of those things.
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 think about how you’re going to dance. We suggest you order a bottle of the caffeinated German soft drink known as Club Mate, drink a fourth of it, then ask the bartender to fill the rest up with the spirit of your choice. Once you have one or two of those inside you, hit the fog-covered dance floor. The music will be house or techno, and the trick to dancing here is to not care.
At Mood Ring, you won’t hear the Spice Girls or trap remixes of “God’s Plan.” You won’t really hear any discernible lyrics at all. But you will more than likely have an out-of-body experience dancing to trance music in their back room. The only source of light is neon lasers, so we’re really not sure how big the dance floor actually is, but we are sure that it’s very fun and very weird. If you want to have a Bushwick dancing one-two punch, cross the street and do late-night Bossa Nova.
Bedlam is a gay bar with taxidermied moose heads on the walls and a big dance floor (especially for the East Village). The DJs play songs you and your friends likely know the words to and there’s no cover or crazy line to get in. It’s the kind of place that falls somewhere in between divey and clubby, and you might end up accidentally joining a birthday party of a man who only goes by “B.” Come when it’s past midnight and one person in your group starts making threats of finding an actual nightclub.
The Jane Hotel Ballroom 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 isn’t too tough to get in. Once you’re past the door, you’ll find a huge room with a high ceilings, a fireplace, and a bunch of worn-out furniture. The music you hear might be Drake or it might be Van Morrison, and the crowd will be a mix of tourists and people who woke up that morning thinking, “I’d like to dance.” At a certain point in the night, most people here are dancing, and it starts to feel like a house party in an old, possibly-haunted mansion. If you’d like to dance on a table or a cheetah-print ottoman, you can do that.
The Blind Barber is a barbershop in the daytime, but at night, there’s a speakeasy-type bar in back. There will probably be a doorman out front, but you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting in unless they’re at capacity. Technically, there’s no dance floor, but if it’s late and crowded enough, you’ll probably find some people trying to get something started. You can either join in, or enjoy one of the luxurious booths off the side. For an especially lively night in the East Village, this place is still one of your best options.
This is a space-themed bar in Bushwick where you can dance under a bunch of neon lights to obscure techno music that not even Shazam can identify. The drinks are strong (and listed on a space commander TV screen) and the whole room turns into a sweaty dance floor on the weekends. Sometimes they charge a cover on weekends, but it won’t be more than $10.
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. This place is in a little basement on the Lower East Side, and feels like a dive bar that just happens to have a very large dance floor. It’s perfect for when you want to dance, but you don’t want to deal with a doorman or a line, and there are different DJ’s every night who tend to play a wide range of music. You might hear anything from doo wop and soul to R&B and EDM, although you can always check the calendar online if you’re curious.
If you want to dance to music you know the words to, and you want to stay in Bushwick, Lot 45 is your best choice. The warehouse by the Jefferson L has a giant bar and a room in the back that’s big enough to fit a stage, a bunch of couches, and a dance floor - without feeling too crowded. There’s a cover on the weekends, but the drinks themselves aren’t too expensive, and it’ll all be worth it once you break out your dad-at-a-wedding moves. Tell your cool friends to take the dainty shoulder bobs elsewhere.
If you’re with a group of friends and half of them want to sit on their phones and send texts they’ll regret the next morning and the other half want to dance, Mad Tropical is a great bar in Bushwick where everyone can get what they want. There’s a front room with tropical decor, lots of places to hang out, and a back room for dancing.
The Bowery Electric isn’t the newest (or coolest) bar, but it’s still a great place to see a show or dance with a group of friends. The space consists of an upstairs bar/lounge area and a basement venue where bands play shows. Dancing occurs in the basement (after the concerts), and the music down there is all over the place. You probably won’t find this place cute or charming, but if you want to drink away your depth perception while you enjoy some music that most other bars in the area won’t be playing, it’s a good place to hang out.
This is a bar and concert venue in Williamsburg where, on any given weekend, there might be a live indie show with a headliner named “Purr,” a loud DJ-dance-party situation, and people casually eating and drinking all at the same time. There are a few rooms here and there’s usually a ticket charge for the shows (which happen here almost every night of the week). But you can pretty much count on this place for a fun dancing experience and a long line for the bathroom.
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. There are multiple floors at The Park, and, as a rule of thumb, they get livelier the higher you go. The first floor is a restaurant and lounge (with a kitchen that stays open until 1am 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, at night, it becomes a bar. People begin filtering in as the sun goes down (or earlier on weekends), and when the crowd gets big enough, dancing starts. Technically, there’s no dance floor, but there’s plenty of space between tables to do your best Patrick Swayze impression. On weekend nights there’s usually a line.
Good Room in Greenpoint is clubby - there’s a disco ball and they play very loud house music - but there’s no dress code or bouncer assessing the content of your character (except when there’s a ticketed event). Despite the name, there are actually a few different rooms in here, and each one has its own DJ. So you can wander around and find the atmosphere that’s right for you. Whatever you choose, you will most likely feel like you’re at a mini warehouse party.
Beauty Bar has been in the East Village for over two decades. The front room looks like an old-school salon (with a 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. The music is typically older, so don’t expect Top 40. Just grab a cheap drink and do your best to dance to a song that might have been on the radio back when most people still listened to the radio.