17 SF Bars Where You Can Dance

Here's where you can really get down without caring who's watching.
17 SF Bars Where You Can Dance image

photo credit: BRIT FINNEGAN

Do you like to dance? Get down? Boogie-woogie? So do we. And this town has no shortage of great dance bars—if you know where to look. We paraded across this city in search of places to get loose, where waiting in those potentially long lines outside is worth it. Now, if we can just convince our friends to come up to our level. Let’s dive in.


photo credit: Brit Finnegan



$$$$Perfect For:DancingDrinking Good WineFirst/Early in the Game Dates
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We talk about Bar Part Time all the time (story of our lives), but that’s because they’re the best dance and natural wine bar in the city, and we love them as much as we love the first sunny day after months of fog. With a giant disco ball and lines around the block, this is the place to see-and-be-seen, dance to electronic-ish music and precariously hold up a glass of wine on the very tight dance floor—and then pop outside for a cig along with literally everyone else. Just make sure you wear your best Brooklyn cosplay outfit, we wouldn’t want you to stand out otherwise.

If you’re looking to dance on a random weeknight, Madrone in NoPa is your best bet. This bar/art gallery/nightclub has something going on every night of the week. From Motown Mondays and Glitter Tears to Fringe and Divisad-EMO, there’s always a stacked calendar of DJs and live music. So when your group chat asks for the 50th time, “What are our plans tonight,” check to see if the Madrone line-up suits you and get ready to get down.

This queer dive in Mission-Bernal Heights is a haven for themed parties, drag shows, and live music. But come here for those oh-so-good day and night dance sessions on their massive patio, when a DJ is spinning tracks at just the right BPM. Some of our favorite themed events and groups include Los Train Wreck, Family Not a Group, and RnB & Ribs—all perfect for having a great DFMO (dance floor make out) to reggaeton, electronic, and R&B.

photo credit: Melissa Zink

If you want a shot at Miami life in the Bay, dance at Cavaña—the lush rooftop bar at the Luma hotel in Mission Bay. It’s swanky, scene-y, and slightly tropical. They’re always serving strong drinks to a crowd full of guys who deem themselves just one startup away from success, Giants fans who are trying to catch a peek at the game, and those who simply love reggaeton (the music skews Latin). Brave the line or, better yet, make a reservation, and you’ll be rewarded with some great (though, non-Miami) city views—if you can see through the fog.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: every night in the Castro should always end at Beaux. At this queer bar, the music never stops pumping, the drinks never stop flowing, and the drag shows go late. It's an overstimulating mess of blue, purple, and pink lights, and Top 40 hits. If that sounds like your ideal dance party then shimmy your way over here immediately.

We wish this place lived up to its name, but maybe that’s more of an us problem than a you problem. Nonetheless, Make-Out Room is a Mission standby for dancing surrounded by shimmering stars, tinsel dangling from the ceiling, and deer heads hanging on the dark green walls. The crowd runs local, while the music runs eclectic—a mix of indie pop, rock, salsa, reggaeton, and cover bands—you never know what kind of music you’re gonna run into at Make-Out Room, which is part of the experience.

Blondie’s is a trainwreck of a dive bar in the Mission, and we mean that in the nicest way possible. At night, the dance floor is always packed with young professionals eager for some Top 40 under purple lights. The crowd, which tends to bleed onto the stage, is a slice of the Marina teleported to the Mission—so do with that information as you will.

The Ethiopian restaurant-bar-dance-floor on Divisadero known as Club Waziema is the spot to both chat someone up and dance the night away. Grab a drink or two at the very red, very wooden (cash-only) bar, and then head back to the small, but mighty dance floor or the pool tables for a break. The events calendar is packed, featuring DJs from all the hottest collectives in town, and sets from your new favorite techno, R&B, and Bay Area rap DJs.

The Knockout is a dark, divey bar that hosts a wide array of live music every weekend—but what you’re really here for is the Sweater Funk dance party. On the first Saturday of every month, you’ll be teleported to a world full of '70s and '80s soul, funk, and boogie, making this the perfect stop for groove aficionados of all types. So get your best disco shades (or thrift some up on Valencia)—and don’t be surprised when someone sees your outfit and yells, “Disco!”

Mothership is a space-age bar in Mission-Bernal Heights that plays host to a range of dance parties with a slight electronic bent (space age, remember). They’re the perfect place when you want a little more of an untz-untz vibe than El Rio will give you. So maybe just pop your head into both (they’re right next door to each other), and see which music draws your heart in.

A gaudy, gold-drenched chill upstairs bar paired with a massively packed downstairs basement is how Monarch has made a name for itself over the years. So come to this SoMa spot if you're indecisive—or just have a fickle friend group. This is an energetic night of contrasts. The upstairs bar has a giant mirror and fun wavy light fixtures accenting the walls, giving it an eclectic feel with Top 40 remixes. Meanwhile, downstairs is warehouse-party-rave energy with a giant video screen, minimal light, and techno blaring through the speakers.

F8 in SoMa is where to go for parties featuring high BPM underground dance music that’ll have you worn out, days later—and that's a great thing, even if you end up calling in sick. Everyone at this nightclub and venue is extremely serious about dancing to house, techno, and drum and bass in a crowd full of all-black mesh and leather. Get on their level or get on your way out.

Westwood is a Marina country bar, and if that wasn’t apparent, turn your head to the mechanical bull, "Howdy Y'all" sign, antler chandeliers, and a multitude of American flags. So feel free to pull out your square dancing skills on one of the two dance floors while taking in the unapologetic tribute to Americana. If country music isn’t actually your scene, the downstairs basement is where to be. There you’ll find a surprisingly large space where you can bop around with a group of 20-somethings who just moved to the city, and dance to Top 40, hip hop, and the occasional reggaeton song. The line to get in is always long, and you’ll likely have to brave a bouncer who always seems to be on the verge of asking, “Who do you know here?” But a trip to Westwood is still sometimes worth the messy journey.

Silver Cloud is a sing-and-sway-along-to-karaoke bar, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need. Run to this Marina spot to scream until your lungs fall off to the latest re-released Taylor Swift song (or watch someone else do it), and dance to bad renditions of throwback hits, maybe until you get shin splints. The alcohol keeps pouring all night, as evidenced by the increasingly bad singing that you’ll increasingly think is good. The same goes for the person shaking their head offbeat and yelling the wrong lyrics. All this is to say, we aren’t responsible for when you decide to go solo on “Love on Top”—your vocal range isn’t that great anyway. 

photo credit: Ricky Rodriguez

$$$$Perfect For:Dancing


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The Brixton is the answer for when you want to dance a bit in the Marina but don’t want to go all out (like at Westwood). This place is technically a gastropub, but we’ve never seen anyone eat anything after 9pm on Friday. The whole place becomes a dance floor on weekends, and the vibe is rockier and grimier (well, as “rocky” as the Marina can get) thanks to Top 40 hits and beer spilled over the dark wooden floor. 

Monroe is best done after a North Beach bar crawl—late-late night is when the crowds roll into this Art Deco-inspired club, and when Monroe becomes a messy (but fun) affair. This is a showy place and it’s not afraid of it. The main dance floor is surrounded by a set of swanky plush couches where the Uber-into-the city crowd is ordering bottle service Hennessy for the table. Meanwhile, the rest of us are ordering from the McMansion-esque granite bar that’s flanked by fancy light fixtures and mirrors affixed with LED lights. So grab a margarita and be careful not to spill it as you dance to nonstop Top 40, throwbacks, and occasional EDM next to a pink neon “Let’s Get Physical” sign.

For an epic night of dancing, all roads lead to Raven Bar. The SoMa bar/club specializes in throwback hits—which translates to hip hop, pop, and R&B from the '90s and early 2000s (prepare for lots of Aaliyah and Usher). It's two floors, and both are covered in wall-to-wall TVs playing music videos, cheesy neon lights, and more lasers than a JLo video. This place is primarily a group and birthday destination, but come here whenever you feel like moving and want to prove you still know the lyrics to "Are You That Somebody."

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