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The best dance bars in Paris

Get a drink and bust a move, all under one roof

© Karl Mathias

Le Zéro Zéro

The human body really packs down: if you don’t believe us, just check out Zéro Zéro of a weekend. It’s a battle even to open the door to the bar, which squeezes an immoderate number of people into a few square metres. The only solution is to dance along with everybody else, while spilling as little as possible of one’s drink. But if things do go bottoms up and you soak a few shirts, there’s no reason to fear: everyone quickly lets go in this highly charged and celebratory atmosphere.The reason for all this roaring success? The music, to start with – every day, the vinyl is expertly managed by house, minimal and hip-hop/funk DJs. The style, too: a tapestry of 70s orange flowers, disappearing behind layers of graffiti that stretch from floor to ceiling. Such an easy-going attitude to space is a novelty in in Paris. But most of all it’s the staff that make it great: the enthusiastic young owners are there every evening keeping things alive. The cocktails too: strawberry Daiquiris and other flavourful creations at great prices (€6.5-€7.5). But the secret weapon of the venue is the Zéro Zéro, a drink with a rum-ginger base with a jealously guarded recipe, whose price has risen from €2.80 to €3 in 15 years.

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La Villette Enchantée

Underneath the neo-industrial arches of Parc de la Villette’s Grande Halle (a former cattle market), La Villette Enchantée does indeed enchant – notably with its terrace, an elegant winter garden with tables and chairs that spill out on to the cobbles under its brightly lit roof. In summer, wooden garden furniture is spread out on the lawn so you can relax and soak up the sun. And at night (Thursdays to Sundays), DJs entertain with cutting-edge electro sets. French electro maestros Kavinsky and Joakim and the label Tigersushi have all played here, and recently, hip Parisian events crew Eleganz has taken over the programme – making La Villette Enchantée one of Paris’s hottest spots after dark.

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19th arrondissement

Twenty One Sound Bar

A hip-hop bar in Paris? The novel Twenty One Sound near Bastille is a temple to American hip-hop – both East and West coasts – but also of dance hall tunes and French rap. Numerous DJs take to the decks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, mixing old school sets and brand new tracks on the powerful sound system. Beautiful girls from the banlieues sway their hips on the dance floor, surrounded by equally beautiful men in an exotic, always friendly atmosphere. Sometimes, big names like Joey Starr play here. The bar offers free or cheap entry, and drinks (including a range of flavoured rums) at affordable prices. The décor is sober, all polished concrete and brushed steel, and the dance floor long and narrow.

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12th arrondissement

Le Floors

Strolling at the base of the Montmartre mound, it’s hard to miss this bar, installed as it is in a pretty art deco building over three glass-fronted floors on the corner of two intersecting streets. Its pink neon lights give it a healthy glow, and its retro 50s American decoration and friendly staff are an invitation to take up position on the top floor and spend the day enjoying the view with a coffee. When evening comes, order a house cocktail (which vary according to which fruits are in season) or a bottle of imported beer (Bud, Peroni). For the hungry, Le Floors has a highly recommended burger menu. For those on a budget, the original burger is good value at €10.90, with plenty of hand cut chips and salad.Recently, the management changed and the bar is busy every day. On weekends, electro club nights attract crowds of hipsters and neighbourhood regulars, all sweating away together on the first floor, posing on the tiny terrace or arranging themselves artfully in front of the bar. In the basement, you’ll often find bric-a-brac sales, so it’s worth stopping by in search of a bargain.

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Café Chéri(e)

On summer afternoons, the terrace of Café Chéri(e) is an ideal spot to sip your drink, in red plastic chairs all turned towards the street, seeming expressly arranged for people-watching, paper-reading and sunbathing. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10pm til 2am, devoted DJs warm up the little dance floor with electro, rock, hip-hop, funk, indie and more. The nights are all different but work together as a whole, attracting a hip young crowd to what is essentially a neighbourhood bar, and the venue is always full after 10pm. In summer the throng spills out onto the pavement for a smoke or to get a bit of distance from the pounding music, while in winter you have to ram up against your neighbour to dance and crane your neck to breathe. Upstairs, don’t miss the little exhibitions and the temporary bric-a-brac sales.

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North-east Paris


Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud is like the rebellious little sister of Rue Oberkampf, full of tiny alternative bars favoured by young rockers and rowdy crowds. The UFO welcomes this scene with open arms and revolutionary caipirinhas (€3.50 during happy hour) alternated with whole rainbows of crazy shots as the night wears on. Once mostly rock, garage and punk, this bar now also delights its regulars with northern soul, ska and funk. On weekends, the DJs in the downstairs area send the dancing crowds completely wild in an atmosphere that’s always cheerful, if sometimes humid when things get crowded. The French-American team that run the bar are very friendly, mixing freely with the crowds and generally enjoying the party.

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4 Eléments

The latest addition to the very active Rue Amelot, the 4 Eléments is an electro bar-club whose DJs plays sets of minimal, house and techno. A rare 100% electro destination for clubbers, its specialised programme attracts a faithful crowd of devotees, who are also probably not averse to the free entry and the friendly bouncers. Other advantages: happy hour runs from 6pm to 9pm, and it’s open until 4am on weekends.There are always good temporary exhibitions of drawings or photos on the walls, but as you might expect the four elements (earth, fire, air and water) define the décor. On the way in you come face to face with a huge orange-painted bar (fire) which serves good cocktails, a DJ booth with a good sound system and a little dance floor. Behind the bar is the chill out room, all green with leafy murals (earth), where you can kick back on a huge banquette that runs around the whole room. These two rooms have direct access to the toilets, with their impressive glowing blue fountain (water, obviously). Near the entrance, a staircase takes you to an underground corridor decorated with luminous cubes, leading nowhere but the smoking area (wind). The programme is available on their website. 149 Rue Amelot

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Tape Bar

To get away from the overloaded Rue de Lappe in the Bastille quarter, frequented by students and tourists, follow the Rue de la Roquette to a little bar that’s close by but a world away. Tape Bar recalls New York’s underground dive scene with its mix-tape, street-art feel, and is owned by friendly, dynamic young people who leave graffiti artists to express themselves on the walls and the DJs to mix mostly hip-hop and funk sets, with some dubstep, drum’n’bass and rock as well. The ambiance is relaxed, the drinks affordable, the hipster crowd young, and it all stays humming until late. During happy hour, cocktails and hot dogs are at €4, a real bargain.

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Here’s a new bar in an area, Strasbourg Saint-Denis, that’s becoming a more and more interesting alternative to Pigalle, Oberkampf and Bastille. The team managing the venue know what they’re doing, and the friendly welcome, comfy sofa, soft lighting and cheap Parisian beer (Gallia) encouraging chat and chance encounters. Even better is the busy event schedule, particularly the DJ sets on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays that often feature big names like Teki Latex, Supa Never Smiles or Acid Washed. The downstairs dance floor area stays open until 2am and is a good place to meet the local population of hipsters, artists and musicians, or anyone just looking for a good tune. Opened in March 2011, l’Inconnu has a bright future – not least because its creators are planning to add a terrace.

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Château d'Eau

Lizard Lounge

A genial Marais bar with big windows that look out on to the street. Pushing open the door, you discover a bar full of ex-pats and Marais regulars all bundled together in an incomprehensible brouhaha. The menu is very Yankee, with XXL burgers, kangaroo steaks, pancakes and chicken, cheese and honey sandwiches. For Brits in search of a good beer selection this is a real find, with a long menu of imported bottles complemented by affordable house cocktails during happy hour. Downstairs, a vaulted stone cave serves as a dance floor. The ambiance heats up at the weekends thanks to the dextrous hands and well-chosen selections of the house, hip-hop and funk DJs. Sundays, small live gigs are organised. The waiters are friendly and the Sunday brunches copious. English papers available.

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4th arrondissement