San Francisco is just a little bit like the town in Footloose. But while dancing might feel like it’s outlawed in the Bay Area, there are definitely places to channel your inner Kevin Bacon - you just have to know where to find them. After extensive research (i.e. doing the macarena in various pockets of the city), we’ve tracked down some great dance floors that don’t require absurd lines or begging someone to shell out for bottle service. Here are the best bars where you can actually dance.
The theme (and crowd) at Madrone might change every night, but this Nopa bar has a dependable dance floor. Motown Mondays are a good way to kick off the week, and The Dirty Rotten Dance Party on the first Friday of every month is the kind of dance floor that requires an inhaler and occasional defibrillator. Treat DRDP like church - sacrilegious to miss. The bar is cash only, so come prepared.
You might not know that you needed a Fifth Harmony remix sung by a gospel choir over Diplo playing the accordion tonight, but the DJs at Beaux did. This is the place where any great night in the Castro ends up, and the dance floor here is like nothing else in the city (hint: it involves go-go dancers). The drinks are also ridiculously cheap, so bring that stack of quarters you’ve been saving for laundry and go wild. You’ll need to get here early - on weekends the line gets insufferable after 11 - but you won’t regret it.
Bootie is less like a bar or club, and more like a well-oiled Saturday night machine - every detail feels like it’s been carefully designed for a good time. There are multiple levels of rooms, each of which plays different music - everything from top 40 mashups to 90s rap to EDM. Your only way out is through a pizza parlor, so they’ve got your late-night eats covered too.
Blondie’s is basically a Marina bar in the Mission. It has all the obligatory Justin Bieber and Kygo that you would find closer to the water, but everyone’s a little cooler and not all employed by the same tech startups, and the dance floor is both smaller and way more fun. During the week they tend to stick to live music, but on weekends they make the switch to a dependable DJ.
An average night can suddenly become unexpectedly great when Kells is involved. Mostly because it results in bar mitzvah party flashbacks. Downstairs is usually a symposium of middle school-level grinding, and upstairs is where others get equally drunk, just in a slightly more mature manner. Kells is especially fun/weird on national drinking holidays, so keep it in your back pocket for St. Patrick’s Day.
Technically Mezzanine labels itself as a “concert venue,” but the music spans from DJs to live performers with varying levels of obscurity. Tickets are usually no more than $20 and the music is reliably danceable. Head here for Beyonce vs. Rihanna night to show off the fact that the Single Ladies choreography has basically become muscle memory for you at this point.
El Rio is like the swiss army knife of bars - great to have in your back pocket in almost any situation. It has both a pool table and excellent outdoor space, but we’re especially fond of their always-reliable back room dance floor. Bookmark their calendar, and don’t miss out if you see the words “silent disco” or “Hard French” - this day party is definitely the most fun you can have in Bernal. Stretch beforehand.
There are surprisingly few options for a good dance floor in the Marina, but Comet Club fills the void. It’s always a little hot and swampy (dress code: nothing that requires dry cleaning) but is packed with people who share a devout appreciation for the Ying Yang Twins and any form of early 2000’s rap. It’s a divey option that’s perfect if you’ve been out on Union and want to end the night strong.
The dance floor at Double Dutch is not the place to be self-conscious - everyone is sweating way too much and whipping out some weird moves, and that’s what makes it so good. The music is usually 90s R&B and rap, so bring your LL Cool J appreciation or work on your lip syncing skills.
The night started so innocently. You headed to Make-Out Room, grabbed one of the booths, and had a couple of casual drinks. But this is the kind of place that escalates quickly. Before you know it, you’ll have had too many shots and be dancing on stage with the DJ as they spin a reggae-Ariana Grande mash-up that’s officially the best thing you’ve ever heard. At least until the next song.
During the day Mayes serves oysters, and at night it serves strictly top 40 hits. Makes sense. But if you’re out with a group on Polk and in need of a good dance floor or refuge after starting the night on a waterbed at Kozy Kar, this is your place. The dance floor is massive, getting in won’t be an issue, and you can always rely on the DJ’s to do their part.
If you’re someone who wants their ashes spread across every square foot of the Marina, Tupelo will feel like your North Beach home away from home. Especially if home involves dancing wildly to live covers of ’80s songs you pretend not to have learned about from Glee.