Best clubs in Boston
This Theatre District nightspot hosted some of the city’s biggest bashes during its previous life as the Roxy. Today, Royale continues to host national-level music acts on various nights, and on weekends the clubs kids pack in to dance the night away. The massive room has a grand stage, an elegant marble foyer, cushy seating nooks, a fantastic sound system, a festive light show and more. There are VIP balconies if you feel like getting away from it all.
While some know the Phoenix Landing as Cambridge’s busiest soccer bar, the space really comes alive at night, when the pub-like space transforms into an old-school dance spot. The floor is tiny, but the variety of tunes is huge. Keep an eye out for popular 80s nights, plus DJs spinning hip-hop, reggae, house, techno, new wave, dubstep, and more.
One of several spots that first dragged downtown Boston out of late-night wasteland, Good Life hangs on by catering to many different scenes. On a given night, the DJs may be spinning top-40 hits, underground hip hop, Latin remixes or cutting-edge electro music. Don’t like the scene upstairs? Head down to the more intimate subterranean lounge area.
At this eclectic nightspot near Central Square, DJs spin the best vintage hip-hop, classic electro and underground dance. Middlesex is more of a lounge than a full-on nightclub; the room is filled with little metal benches on wheels that can be artfully arranged to accommodate even the most disorganized of parties. Check with the venue to learn about electronic nights, queer dance parties, and special guests.
If you want to get a taste of Boston’s international scene, be prepared to pay for it. Venu gets points off for sky-high cover charges and expensive drinks but, if cash is no object, then a good time is pretty much guaranteed. Entourage Saturdays are the night to be here, and you should probably arrive early and dress to impress in order to improve your odds of getting in.
Icon is all splash and sass; more than 7,000 square-feet of hip design with a state of the art sound and lighting system. On Friday and Saturday nights, the cool crowd lines up to dance the night away to DJ-supplied tunes; expect a mash-up of Latin, house and hip hop.
The W Hotel’s nightclub/party space resembles a tunnel inside some sort of futuristic space vessel. Tunnel is also visually striking, with curvy couches, sleek decor, and multi-colored lighting. The champagne menu is extensive and expensive, but other drinks are more reasonable. Arrive early for an easier chance of getting in, and sometimes there's reduced admission for early entry.
Catering to an upscale, international crowd, Bijou draws dance DJs with the same kind of cache. Arrive early (around 10 or 11pm) if you don’t want to wait on line—or worse, not get in at all. The space is small and intimate, but often loud and crowded. Check the website for upcoming appearances by big-name acts.
Part of the nightclub family that also includes Venu and Icon, Cure features colored ceiling lighting, so you may think you’re dancing inside a Rubik’s Cube. Wednesday is the club’s weekly gay and lesbian dance party, and weekend nights see DJs come in to keep the party going.
The Beehive often resembles a nightclub for grown-ups—of which there are precious few in this town. The bohemian, jazz-centric supper club allows folks of a certain age to dine, drink and then dance in a laid-back, permissive setting where there’s no cover or dress code. While jazz is the main musical genre, on any given night you can also expect blues, electronica, reggae, Latin, cabaret and burlesque.
The owners of dbar took over a grubby little Dorchester pub and installed a dark wood interior, a lengthy martini list and an upscale menu. After 10pm on weekends, the smoke machines, lights and rib-shaking subwoofers come on, and suddenly the space belongs to lively, gay-leaning crowds for karaoke Fridays and “Magnum Saturdays.”
For sheer history and ambience there’s no beating Wally’s. Since 1947, this unassuming South End spot has been the premier showcase for Boston jazz talent, including plenty of students from Berklee, the Boston Conservatory and the New England Conservatory of Music. The drinks are strong and reasonably priced. No matter the day of the week, it’s invariably jazzy, often inventive and always without a cover charge.