Get us in your inbox

Search
Le Nocturne
Photograph: Courtesy Le Nocturne

The best nightclubs in Chicago for dancing the night away

It should come as no surprise that the city that gave birth to house music boast some amazing nightclubs.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
Advertising

There's no arguing that Chicago is a city that helped shape dance music, thanks to DJs like Ron Hardy and Frankie Knuckles, who began spinning a new strain of disco music (later dubbed house music) in the 1980s. Sadly, you can't bust a move inside the most legendary Chicago nightclubs of that era (RIP The Warehouse), but a new crop of late-night destinations has stepped in to make sure the beat goes on. Much of Chicago's club scene is concentrated in River North, where you'll find dark subterranean lounges as well as dance clubs atop restaurants and bars. But there are nightclubs throughout the city as well, many of which host aftershows during summer music festival season and host talented DJs and electronic acts year-round. Searching for an energetic dance floor and killer soundsystems? Hop in the queue at some of the best nightclubs and dance clubs in Chicago.

The best dance clubs in Chicago

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Wrigleyville
  • price 2 of 4

This subterranean club adjacent to Metro is a testament to Chicago's storied dance music history, hosting a weekly Sunday night party (Queen!) that carries the torch for the city's house music scene. The Wrigleyville venue is the local home base of internationally renowned DJs like the Blessed Madonna, Derrick Carter and Mark Farina—plus a stacked lineup of resident selectors. Whether you're listening to cutting-edge DJs or dusty old records, Smart Bar's cozy confines and European sound system make it an ideal place to lose yourself to dance.

  • Restaurants
  • Pan-Asian
  • River North

While the first floor of Tao Chicago functions as an Asian-inspired restaurant, serving dishes like Peking duck and lobster wontons, the venue's second floor is one of the city's hottest nightclubs. The 1,000-capacity space features towering murals and a disco ball mounted beneath a 10-foot-tall Japanese bell, setting the scene for packed parties soundtracked by some of the world's biggest DJs (Deadmau5 and Afrojack performed during the club's opening weeks). Cover charges tend to be expensive and reservations are nearly essential for marquee acts, but if you've got cash to burn, this is one of the Chicago nightlife scene's glitziest locales.

Advertising
  • Clubs
  • River West/West Town
  • price 2 of 4

Chicago's outpost of the kitschy Beauty Bar concept falls in line with iterations in New York, San Francisco and Austin, outfitted with sparkling walls and ’60s beauty salon furniture. Hang out under the disco ball at popular recurring parties like Timehop Thursdays and Emo vs. Pop-Punk or show up for Friday evening happy hours. And if your nails need a bit of work, you can often score a manicure and a martini in the front room.

  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • Uptown

A relatively new addition to Chicago nightlife scene, Le Nocturne channels the more casual vibes of a French nightclub, complete with a relaxed "come as you are" dress code. Residents include prominent Chicago house DJs like Ron Carrol and Paul Johnson, exemplifying the club's reverence for homegrown talent. Inside, you'll find a dance floor flanked by a 25,000 watt European audio system and an array of nearly 100 pieces of intelligent lighting that move and shift colors in response to whatever is spinning. And if you need a break from the beats, there's a small sidewalk patio where you can refuel before returning to the crowd inside.

Advertising
  • Clubs
  • Lake View
  • price 1 of 4

A preferred hideout of local weirdos since the ’80s, the Lakeview club once lived up to its name by regularly featuring German new-wave music and art installations. These days, Berlin is best known for its weekly drag shows and late-night dance parties that keep the music going until 4am or later.

  • Things to do
  • West Loop

It may look like an unassuming barbershop, but Blind Barber hides a not-so-secret speakeasy that's among the most popular places to party in town. The spot operates much like its locations in New York, Los Angeles and Philly: Stop by to get a haircut during the day or swing by in the evening and enter the back room for snacks, drinks and some tunes provided by local DJs. The dimly-lit space is oozing with style—and the dance floor is just large enough to accomodate a small throng of revelers. We recommend getting a reservation, unless you love queuing up.

Advertising
  • Clubs
  • Pop
  • River North

Located in an old River North warehouse that once operated as an electrical supply company, the Electric Hotel now harnesses the power of steady beats and moving bodies on a dancefloor. Boasting exposed brick walls, Instagram-friendly neon signs and a bouqet of disco balls hanging from its ceiling, this nightclub is open four days a week until at least 3am (5am on Saturdays), making it a popular spot for DJ afterparties.

  • Clubs
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

A slick, modern, multilevel Euro-style destination in River North's crowded club scene, this venue has kept clubbers busy ever since opening in 2004, hosting touring progressive house and techno DJs on a regular basis. With a solid lineup of resident DJs, seven bars spread throughout the space and a powerful sound system, the various dance floors at this club always seems to boast a spectacular scene.

Advertising
  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • River North

Not much has changed at Underground, Billy Dec's long-running River North nightclub, which once sported a bunker theme (it now looks like most other contemporary clubs, complete with plenty of laser, flashing light and LED panels). It's a reliable spot to catch sets from touring DJs and potentially spot some local baseball, basketball and football players shelling out for bottle service. Need a way to pass the time before the doors opens? The ’20s-themed Underground Cocktail Club serves fancy mixed drinks in a speakeasy-inspired space located directly above the subterranean club.

  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • River North

Situated above Celeste in River North, Disco wears its retro aspirations on its sleeve, boasting a gigantic lighted dance floor and plenty of massive mirror balls. The playlists are also a conscious throwback to the ’70s, filled with key disco (duh), funk, soul and house music cuts. Show up on Friday and Saturday nights for champagne and dancing in this Instagram-worthy club.

Advertising
  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • River North

This two-tiered nightclub brings the party to Lincoln Park... just across the street from the Whole Foods. You'll find big-name DJs like Steve Angello and Afrojack dropping beats, plus parties featuring local and regional selectors behind the decks. PRSYM boasts three bars, plenty of tables for your bottle service splurges and a VIP suite that you can rent out if you're feeling extra flush.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • River North
  • price 2 of 4

Founded in 1995, this 300-capacity River North club plays up its "global vibe," inviting underground techno and electro artists from around the world to perform. The cramped confines make this one of the area's more exclusive dancefloors, so you'll need to show up early (or book a table) if you want to ensure a spot at the party.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • American creative
  • River North

Part-ritzy supper club, part-nightclub, Fame offers evening eats and late-night entertainment in a bi-level River North space. If you're stopping by for dinner, expect elevated American fare served under chandeliers, including smoked stuffed mejool dates and grilled octopus served as shared plates as well as entrees like a tomahawk prime rib and cacio e pepe. The second-floor nightclub is where the party gets started, with DJs (often accompanied by violinists or trumpeters) pumping tunes through a powerful Funktion One audio system. 

  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Wicker Park
  • price 2 of 4

This two-floor club is a holdover from Wicker Park's past as a nightlife destination—a time long before chain restaurants and shoe stores began taking over the neighborhood. Now, Debonair Social Club is one of the only places on this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue where you can order bottle service and dance to music late into the night. Stop by during the weekends for parties that span multiple floors, with one DJ providing the soundtrack upstairs and another spinning tunes in the basement.

Advertising
  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • River North

Situated above Tree House in River North, this long and narrow nightclub is inspired by London's underground network of tunnels—built to provide secret escape routes for the royal family and facilitate espionage. Just don't expect any Anglophile trappings at this relatively standard River North nightclub. With booth lining one wall, a bar on the other and couches in the middle of the room, those willing to spring for VIP tables and bottle service won't have trouble finding a place to sit down (at least until the dance floor starts forming). Rows of hanging LED lights create a lively atmosphere, synchronized to whoever is spinning on stage.

  • Clubs
  • Pop
  • River North

Looking for a textbook River North nightclub? LITE Chicago has the cavernous space, the dim lighting, confetti drops and bottles of booze adorned with sparklers. Make your reservation and show up for an evening filled with loud music, bright lights and plenty of people to strike up conversations with on the dance floor.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising