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Washington DC Nightlife

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Want to party? Head to one of these top nightclubs in DC, grab a drink and start shaking it.
Many people envision the stereotypical dance club as a bouncer-curated crowds of scantily clad girls flirting for free drinks—and guys who are only too willing to comply—but many other nightclubs in DC offer their own special flavors, with some skewing Latin or hip-hop, others more loungey and chill and a few that draw high-rollers (on high rooftops) with their swanky bottle service. Where one space is enormous and pulsating with energy, another might be an intimate pick-up bar. Whatever your jam, DC’s got you covered, and this list will help you dial up just the right place for a high-energy, ultra-fun night out with friends on the town. The next morning, refuel with the best brunch in DC.

Echostage

This cavernous, warehouse-like space spanning 30,000 square feet in Northeast is so large that there’s virtually no chance you’ll be stuck in line waiting to get in. Order drinks from one of two 60-foot bars or reserve a table on a mezzanine for bottle service and prime views of the bouncing crowd below. The top-notch lighting and sound systems attract DJ talents from around the globe, and live music shows also pop up on the calendar here and there.

Eighteenth Street Lounge

Picture dancing in your best friend’s Northwest DC mansion, which just happens to boast flattering lighting and comfy, vintage seating scattered about. That’s Eighteenth Street Lounge. The club features five rooms: The Main Room, with a working fireplace and views of the dance floor; The Gold Room, which is good for private events; The Jazz Bar with live jazz and a whiskey and Scotch bar; Addendum Bar, a speakeasy; and Deck Bar with a 40-foot bar, retractable roof, DJ booth and dance floor. The live music and popular reggae and salsa nights keeps locals and visitors coming back every night of the week.

U Street Music Hall

This DJ-owned basement dance club and live music venue regularly hosts popular parties like Deep Sugar, a classic soul dance night, and Werk Ethic featuring 1980s and ’90s house and techno. You won’t find super huge crowds—capacity maxes out at 500—but you will find an excellent sound system and a 1,200-square-foot cork-cushioned dance floor. The space features limited bar seating and advance ticket sales for shows, which are listed on the website. Bonus for laid-back types who prefer comfy kicks: There’s no official dress code.

SAX

This sumptuous restaurant and lounge serves up a cabaret experience before transforming into a dance club with bottle service at 11:30pm on weekends. Step inside the open space—featuring a 60-foot high ceiling—and take in the Versailles-inspired crystal chandeliers and golden accents. While the mix of house and Top 40 music is sure to amuse, the standout here is the live entertainment from the 20-foot enclosed stage over the first-floor bar. Performances range from modern ballet to acrobatic pole dancing, and aerialists sometimes descend from above the lounge’s dance floor.

Flash

Choose from three distinct levels at Flash: the club level, outfitted with studio-quality acoustics, trippy lighting, a dance floor, bar and (gasp!) seating; the ground floor with a separate dance floor and bespoke cocktails like a barrel-aged Negroni; and a rooftop dance floor with a retractable roof and skyline views. Up there, the drink menu includes frozen cocktails, juices and kombucha. DJs come from all over the world to spin house music every Friday and Saturday night.

POV at W Washington DC

The big draw at this hotel’s rooftop lounge? Unparalleled views of the cityscape (including the Washington Monument and White House) from the top-floor terrace. Spend time lounging outside under the covered awning or venture inside, where you can dance on the newly tiled floor or chill with bottle service. The dress code of “casual sophistication” is enforced after 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, so make sure to dress appropriately. You’ll see that gentlemen in suits are not uncommon, as the city’s lobbyists and lawyers prowl the scene. The drinks, while tasty, are on the pricier side.

The Park at Fourteenth

Come in for happy hour—held Thursdays and Fridays from 5-7pm—or drop by for dinner Thursday, Friday or Saturday; Either way, stay for the dancing. Cruise through the swanky, wood-paneled space that spans four floors and expect to move to hip-hop, R&B, top 40 and even reggae. Do dress to impress since doormen are onsite to make sure everyone adheres to the strict dress code that prohibits “tattered clothing, certain athletic wear and extremely provocative attire.” The dress code doesn’t relax for Saturday and Sunday brunch—which start at 3pm and 1pm, respectively—and offers daytime bottle service for those who adhere to the it’s 5 o’clock somewhere lifestyle.

Nellie’s Sports Bar

A typical sports bar on most nights—when football games are shown on a big screen and $15 buckets of Bud are on offer—transforms into a very different scene on Friday and Saturday, when you’ll find locals dancing under disco balls until 3am to what the bar describes as bubbly pop. Return to the longtime favorite the next morning for a Saturday or Sunday drag brunch that includes an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Cafe Citron

This colorful venue serves an array of Latin American dishes—then turns into a dance club starting at 10pm. The club’s three levels recently underwent a refresh that includes new floors, updated color schemes and a neon sign that says “meet your sole mate.” DJs spin Latin house and pop and reggaeton tunes, with some salsa, bachata and Middle Eastern melodies thrown in every night of the week (plus free salsa lessons happen Wednesday–Saturday from 8–10pm). There’s a dress code on Fridays and Saturdays, and you should get there before 11pm or reserve for bottle service to avoid waiting in line.

Tropicalia

Located at the intersection of 14th and U, this underground spot with a glowing white bar top bills itself as a “dance club for grown-ups,” offering live shows and DJs that weave in AfroHouse, Latin, reggae and hip-hop. Those who stumble across this hidden gem love the no-fuss, come-as-you-are vibe that means you don’t have to dress up. The ’90s Nostalgia nights are popular, and there’s often no cover even on busy weekend evenings. It’s also wheelchair accessible.

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