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.
For more places where you won’t feel strange for attempting to do the Stanky Leg in public, read the recommendations Staff Writer Hannah Albertine gave a reader who asked for some advice after proudly proclaiming, “I Just Want To F*cking Dance“.
The theme at Joyface appears to be “1970s bedroom.” And what do you do in a 1970s bedroom? You hang out, sit on a waterbed, talk to some friends on your velvet couch, and show off your dance moves underneath a disco ball. You can do all of these things at this East Village bar, and if you want to drink a cocktail, you can reach your hand into a bowl filled with the names of various ingredients, like passionfruit or ginger and have the bartender make something based on whatever you pull out. This place gets packed, and it’s a great spot to hang out for an hour or two and accidentally run into your ex.
Honey’s, a micro-meadery taproom and restaurant in the middle of industrial Bushwick, feels like a suitable option for people who have outgrown Mood Ring but still want to have a fun night out. There’s a massive patio in the middle of the street out front where you might spot someone who occasionally gets paid to model Calvin Klein jeans sipping cocktails and snacking on ricotta crostini. Honey’s also has an indoor dining space that looks more like a factory with plenty of bar seating and a few side tables that get crowded on busy nights. For dancing, head up the big metal staircase to the rooftop garden after 10pm on a Saturday - you’ll find a DJ booth, a small bar area, and people swaying side-to-side between several rows of plant beds.
Nowadays is a huge indoor-outdoor bar right near the border between Bushwick and Ridgewood. 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.
Kind Regards isn’t a club, but on weekends it sort of feels like one. So if you have some friends who want to go to 1 Oak, but you’d rather have a large dog bite you in the face, suggest this place instead. Upstairs, there’s a lounge area and a bar, and downstairs there’s a dancefloor with pink couches and a disco ball where you should be able to make some new friends who don’t try to go to 1 Oak. Just know that if you arrive late on a weekend, there will probably be a line.Noah Devereaux
C’mon Everybody is a few feet from Chilo’s, and you’re probably wondering how two bars can exist right next to one another. Well, Chilo’s has tacos and C’mon Everybody has music. Up front, there’s a bar, and in the back there’s a room with a stage where they host live music and the occasional dance party. The events are ticketed, but they generally don’t cost much - and if you don’t feel like buying a ticket, you can just drink at the bar up front. The music up there won’t be live, but it will be very loud.
Happyfun Hideaway feels like a drunk person decided to open a bar, so they signed a lease, found a pinball machine, and acquired a few boxes of Franzia. And yes, you can get Franzia here. You can also play pinball on a machine with young Alec Baldwin’s face on it. There’s a vaguely tropical theme here, but most of the decor looks like it was found on the street, so that’s probably just how it all came together. Drinks are cheap, and there’s a small backyard if you need to get some air.Noah Devereaux
Lover's Rock419 Tompkins Ave
You should never not be in the mood to drink a rum punch and listen to reggae. So you will probably always be in the mood to hang out at Lover’s Rock. It’s a Caribbean-themed cocktail bar in Bed-Stuy where they make some good drinks and keep the lights dim. Reggae isn’t the only music they play, but don’t expect Top 40. It’s more old-school than that. For a fun night out that isn’t too crazy, we recommend this place. And when it’s warm, hit their backyard.Three Dollar Bill
Three Dollar Bill260 Meserole St
Three Dollar Bill is a great option if you’re looking to go out in a huge, queer space. There’s a dance floor with two stages, an upper platform where you can perform for all the commoners below, and an outdoor patio for when you inevitably get too sweaty to continue moving. From LGTBQ+ art fairs with live DJs and weeknight drag shows, to Dua Lipa-themed parties on the weekends, Three Dollar Bill hosts every kind of queer event you can think of.
Cafe Erzulie894 Broadway
Cafe Erzulie, a Haitian cafe in Bushwick, often hosts live performances, Caribbean music nights, and steel drum bands in their backyard (as well as stand-up comedy). While you’re here, you can order things like plantain chips with guacamole, Haitian patties filled with beef, and a platter of black rice, pikliz (a spicy pickled relish), and sweet green peas. Make sure to follow Cafe Erzulie on Instagram so you never miss something great.
This Astoria LGBTQ spot is typically relaxed during weeknights, but on the weekends, it becomes a full-on dance party. Make sure to check their schedule ahead of time, since they pretty much always have drag shows and comedy events happening. Also - Icon serves two-for-one drinks every night until 8pm.
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.
Heaven Or Las Vegas is from the same people behind Mood Ring, and it’s another foggy place where you can dance amongst Bushwick residents and neon accents. It doesn’t really start getting crowded until about 11pm (and people don’t actually start dancing until an hour or so after that), so stop by if you need a late-night spot near the Jefferson stop of the L train. The space consists of three small interconnected rooms, one of which consists of a DJ booth and a dance floor.Noah Devereaux
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 high ceilings, a fireplace, worn-out furniture, and a rooftop deck. 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.
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.
This bar officially reopens on July 8.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.