At some point, you wake up and realize you can no longer tolerate going to clubs. Maybe it’s the long lines, or the horrible music, or just the unrelenting stench of desperation that finally get to you. Regardless, it’s all behind you now, and you’re thrilled about it.
But what happens when you still want to dance? Are there actually places in LA where you can get your groove on and not abandon your dignity (and credit card limit) in the process? Yes. But they sure aren’t easy to track down. So we’ve done the work for you. Here are the 16 best bars where you can actually dance.
Trying to find great places to dance on the Westside isn’t easy, especially if you don’t like paying for bottle service (we don’t) or waiting in line (we also don’t). Fortunately, Venice’s Little Friend is our refuge in this part of town. The sibling to Silver Lake’s The Friend, this bar plays actual records in a small space that makes you feel like you’re partying at the Peach Pit After Dark. They’ve got all kinds of themed dance nights, like disco, house, and “Madre Mondays” when they have all-night Happy Hour and lots of tequila.
By day, Harlowe is a Weho bar with an Old Hollywood theme that’s great for networking. By night, it transforms into the post-grad version of Jock Jams night at DKE. But that also makes it an extremely fun place to dance on a Saturday night. The DJs play mostly hip-hop and pop, so there’s a good chance you’ll know every word of every song - and a 100% chance you’ll be singing along after a few of their draft Old Fashioneds. Expect a wait if you get there after 10:30 or so.
The Abbey is one of the most iconic gay bars in the country - and one of the most crowded bars in West Hollywood (which is really saying something). But dancing at the Abbey is also an essential LA experience. They’ve got multiple levels of dance floors, and four bars that are able to handle the crowds. Weekdays are actually the best time to dance here, because on weekends, the place fills up with Real Housewives and drunk, straight twentysomethings.
Tenants is a very Silver Lake bar, complete with a teepee on the patio and a crowd of people you vaguely recognize from Instagram and/or your improv class - but when it comes to dancing, it’s one of the best options in the neighborhood. Tenants has a main dance floor that plays mostly hip-hop, and it gets incredibly crowded (read: sweaty) around midnight. Or, if you’d prefer, you can head to the bar area, where they’re usually playing oldies that make for a nice break from shooing away the stranger who keeps dancing in your personal space.
If you look at Zebulon’s calendar, you’ll see a bunch of shows lined up. And they’re usually pretty good, if you want to pay to watch a live band. But if your priority is dancing, head to this giant warehouse/bar after the shows are done. Around 10:30, Zebulon turns into a regular bar, with free admission and a huge dance floor where DJs are playing songs you and your friends know all the words to. It’s our favorite dance spot that, somehow, no one knows about yet.
The Echoplex is where you come when you want to dance uncontrollably, belt along to your favorite throwbacks, and not get all dressed up to do so. This Echo Park classic specializes in themed dance parties, with events like ’90s R&B, emo, and pop diva mashups. The crowd is usually pretty casual - you’ll see plenty of shorts and sneakers here, because when you’re dancing this hard, you need to support your arches.
The Short Stop is one of LA’s all-time great dive bars. But you come here for one reason - to dance. And to never stop dancing. Put all your fears of fist-pumping and house music nonsense aside, because this is where you go to get weird to old ’80s hits and dance with strangers in jean cut-offs. This Echo Park spot can get crowded, so make your moves early.
Akbar is the antithesis of every Weho gay bar you’re tired of waiting in line for. The neighborhood spot on the Silver Lake/Los Feliz border is always easy to get into, well cocktails aren’t $16, and the crowd generally doesn’t have anything to prove. The relatively tiny dance floor in the back can get crowded, but it never veers towards overwhelming.
Another great gay bar, Precinct is a massive spot in a warehouse in Downtown LA. The drinks are affordable, the drag shows are rowdy, and the crowd is a whole lot of fun. Oh, and in addition to being affordable, those drinks are also extremely strong, so there’s a good chance that you and whomever you’re dancing with are going to help each other piece tonight together tomorrow.
Cicada Club is one those places that reminds you Los Angeles is much cooler than it will ever get credit for. This Downtown supper club has all the Old Hollywood, art-deco vibes you could want and a live big band that gets the dance floor heated up early. You can go all-in for the dinner setup, or just buy separate tickets to come and dance (they usually run $20-25). That might seem steep, but it’s the price you pay for time travel.
Just to be clear: On weekends, Bar Lubitsch is an absolute slopfest. But it’s also an extremely fun, wild bar, and, under the right circumstances, exactly what you need on a Friday night. The backroom fills up with people ready to grind the night away to DJ Khaled songs with vodka sodas in hand. The front bar, though, has surprisingly good drinks, including a negroni made with vodka and campari aged in oak barrels, and a deadly Moscow Mule.
Nothing beats a weird night out in The Valley. And while we could point you in several different directions to get your strange on, nothing quite lives up the standards set over at Oil Can Harry’s. The Studio City cowboy bar is sent straight from 1987, and has as crazy of a dance floor as they come. While most nights of the week are taken up by some serious line-dancing, Saturday night is an all-disco extravaganza, and you better have brought your dancing shoes.
Is this the most underrated bar in Santa Monica? Depending on how much you like to dance to Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz, the answer is probably yes. Located in that inland no-man’s land part of Santa Monica, The Room can be a little tricky to find, but once you do, it’s worth it. Good drinks made by cool bartenders, lots of old-school ’90s rap and R&B, and plenty of room on the dance floor for you and your friends to get low.
The Virgil is a dive bar in East Hollywood with two different dance floors - one in the front, and one through a door in the back. And you should be heading straight to the back bar, where you’ll find a dark, massive dance floor with a DJ playing pop tracks from the last 30 years. The drinks are expensive, but that generally comes with the territory of being in a dance-y bar on the Eastside - just take a shot or two of tequila before you hop in your Lyft, and you’ll be set for the night.
Bootie LA is definitely not a venue. It’s a bi-monthly dance party that rotates generally between Echo Park and Downtown. It’s also your absolute best option if you want to dance like an idiot for five hours straight and not have to endure rave-like conditions while doing so. There’s usually plenty of room on the dance floor for you and your friends, and with theme nights that include Beyoncé vs. Rihanna and Britney vs. Taylor, things get very serious very quickly.
Welcome to one of the most legendary bars on the Westside. This dime-sized joint along Wilshire is technically a karaoke place, but don’t let that deter you - the dancing here is very real. The Gaslite is definitely not where you start your evening, it’s where you end up at 12:30am dancing your soul out to a heavyset man’s jaw-dropping rendition of “What’s Love Got To With It?”.