This city's got plenty of velvet-roped clubs for its celebrities and intrepid nightlife enthusiasts, but sometimes you want a place where you can simultaneously channel Michael Jackson and swig a $5 beer. Here are our favorite bars with killer dance floors and, yes, we know most of these are in Williamsburg, but that's where the kids are getting down these days, deal with it. As always, leave your favorites in the comments.
BEAUTY BAR: Beauty Bar is a lot of things—a dive, a John Waters-esque throwback, and a questionable spot for a manicure, to name a few. But this 14th Street spot's best offering is its back room, where attendees can get down to throwback hits from the 1980s and 1990s under the bar's resident disco ball. Note that only some nights are reserved for dancing since Beauty Bar also hosts readings and comedy shows in that space, but you can usually catch soul and pre-Erotica Madonna on Friday nights as part of Beauty Bar's weekly Dancestravaganza, along with the Cure and other New Wave goodies on Saturday at Re-Make/Re-Model.
Beauty Bar is located at 231 East 14th Street between 2nd and 2rd Avenues in the East Village (212-539-1389, thebeautybar.com).
CAMEO: Cameo Gallery is a place where I was once punched in the face during a Japanther concert, a moment I consider exemplary of Williamsburg 2011. And though lots of places I used to frequent then have since shuttered, Cameo continues to host concerts and dance parties in their back space on the regular. Their $5 monthly event, Mondo, is a must-do for anyone into so-called indie pop, with playlists boasting everything from Britpop to Motown to alternative dance music.
The Legendary parties, which run nonstop from midnight to 4 a.m. once a month, are also more than worth the $10 ticket price if hip contemporary dance music's your thing. Plus you can also catch one-offs like the upcoming PRE-93 Alternative Dance Party and special surprise sets like an after-hours soiree with Nicolas Jaar and Jaques Greene earlier this month.
Cameo is located at 93 North 6th Street between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue in Willamsburg, Brooklyn (718-302-1180, cameony.com).
BABY'S ALL RIGHT: Half bar, half venue, Baby’s is the crown jewel of the already bar-crowded South Williamsburg corridor. But the folks at the corner of Bedford & Broadway do it best by bringing in the best up-and-coming talent from across genres with the help of some of Brooklyn’s best DIY promoters. And with cheap booze, killer live acts and parties thrown by big guns like DFA Records and Ad Hoc, Baby’s reels in everything from fem-punk to footwork for some of the best Friday night shows this side of the East River. (Sandra Song)
Baby's All Right is located at 146 Broadway between Driggs Avenue and South 6th Street in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-5800, babysallright.com).
BOSSA NOVA CIVIC CLUB: Though it’s closed for the next couple of weeks to fix up some things (per THE MAN), Bossa Nova is a verifiable Bushwick institution worth battling the M early shut-down and Gross with a capital G bathrooms for. One of the handful of New York bars to offer bottles of Club Mate (aka the magical elixir that allows Germans to party 72-hours straight), they also host a handful of industrial-leaning techno nights pretty much every night of the week for all you Berghain-obsessives still complaining about how lame Output is. (Sandra Song)
Bossa Nova Civic Club is located at 1271 Myrtle Avenue between Evergreen Avenue and Cedar Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn (718-443-1271, bossanovacivicclub.com).
BEMBE: Bembe straddles the line between club and bar-with-dance-floor, but whatever you want to call it, it's the place to go if you want to boogie down to tunes from all over the world. Dance nights here run the gamut, with salsa, meringue, samba, hip-hop, rumba, bhangra, Arabic dance, reggaeton and calypso all on tap. Note that Bembe's space is small and the floor can get crowded, but if you don't mind a little sweat, the cramped quarters are easy to get over. Plus, they make some exceptionally strong, tasty drinks, so you can always cool down with a $7 mojito if the scene gets too hot for you.
Bembe is located at 81 South 6th Street between Wythe Avenue and Berry Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-387-5389, bembe.us).
ONE LAST SHAG: Dilapidated Bed-Stuy bar no more, as One Last Shag has been playing host to a series of parties put on by some of New York’s Internet elite as of late. Series like ~Shallow~ and Papi Juice put on monthly nights that are queer-oriented, sex-positive gatherings of flashy personalities, all combined with themed drink specials and some of Soundcloud’s finest, making it one of the G train’s most over-the-top options. (Sandra Song)
One Last Shag is located at 348 Franklin Avenue between Greene and Lexington Avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn (718-398-2472, onelastshag.com).
TANDEM: Many (6 or so) years ago, Tandem was an OG Gentrification-Of-Bushwick spot, where hipsters fresh from Williamsburg gathered to swap American Apparel beanies, listen to Wolf Parade, and brag about their $400/month rents. Or something. It was before my time. Of course, Bushwick has many, many bars now and those boast-worthy rents have probably quadrupled, but Tandem still manages to host some killer dance nights in its strobe light-outfitted backroom. Free DJ sets, monthly Midnight Disco Society and Contort Yourself parties, and regular Indie Slash synth-pop nights are just a few of Tandem's offerings, and they usually draw a crowd after everyone's gotten good and hammered around the neighborhood.
Please note that if you do spend an evening at Tandem, the bar is located on a residential block, and it would be nice if you could keep your voice down.
Tandem is located at 236 Troutman Street between Wilson and Knickerbocker Avenues in Bushwick, Brooklyn (718-386-2369, tandembar.net).
THE WOODS: The Woods's best offering is probably its picnic table-filled backyard, where attendees can hang out boozing or feasting on the fancy new Landhaus outpost that moved in over the summer. But even when it's too cold to brave the outdoors, you can squeeze onto the bar's stage and dance floor, where DJs spin everything from New Order to Michael Jackson to early aughts Christina Aguilera. If you're coming in late on a Friday or Saturday night, you may have to fork over $5 to $10 for a cover charge, but note that beer-and-shot deals here are a steal, so there's a win in there at least.
Plus, those bathrooms make for a stellar hookup spot ;)
The Woods is located at 48 South 4th Street between Wythe and Kent Avenues in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-782-4955).
CALL BOX LOUNGE: Call Box Lounge is a bonafide, divey dance spot, one where you can get liquored up to all hell and grind up on a stranger to some bass-pumping hip-hop. Drinks are so cheap they might kill you, and though the bar looks sketchy on the outside, their slogan—WHERE GOOD FRIENDS PARTY HARDY—is, well, quite true. They take credit cards, technically, but bring cash just in case, and prepare your hangover cure before heading out of your apartment. You will most certainly need it.
Call Box Lounge is located at 2 Lombardy Street between Kingsland Avenue and Morgan Avenue in East Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-384-0179, thecallboxlounge.com).
KINFOLK: Searching for something a little more intimate and low-key? Look no further than Kinfolk Studio’s designated event space, which features a low-lit geodesic dome, gorgeous wood interiors and a sophisticated, cocktail-sipping art crowd. There’s also a dance floor for when that G&T starts working its magic, so expect the tortoise shell glasses and turtlenecks to start coming off past midnight. (Sandra Song)
Kinfolk is located at 94 Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (347-799-2946).