The best dance clubs in Chicago
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. Open four nights a week, the Wrigleyville venue is the local home base of internationally renown DJs like the Black Madonna, Derrick Carter and Mark Farina. 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.
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 floors 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.
Now outfitted with a 4am license, East Room has quickly become a preferred destination for pre-gaming, after-parties and everything in between. Arrive at the Logan Square bar on a random night and you may find local figures spinning tracks or encounter a line down the block for DJ sets from national acts like Toro y Moi and Nosaj Thing.
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, ’80s dance parties and quirky tributes to artists like Prince, Madonna and Björk. Stop by every Thursday for the rotating A Queer Pride Presents party, featuring events like Femme's Room and DURO that explicitly welcome LGBTQ, Latinx and other underrepresented communities.
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 Timbuck2esday, Emo vs. Pop-Punk and themed Friday night happy hours. If your nails need a bit of work, you can often score a manicure and a martini in the front room for just $15.
Located 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.
This two-tiered nightclub brings the party to Lincoln Park... just across the street from the neighborhood's Whole Foods Market. You'll find big-name DJs like Steve Angello and Afrojack dropping beats, in addition to regular parties like F.A.M.E. Saturdays that always seem to draw a crowd. 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.
Miss the days of drinking juice boxes with your friends? This expansive River North club serves many of its cocktails in plastic boxes, allowing guests to safely sip booze while exploring the massive tri-level space. Neon lighting, graffiti and bright sculptures decorate the long corridors, where you're likely to spot groups knocking back shots that are dispensed from a miniature slot machine. Anyone with an early bedtime need not apply—LiqrBox keeps rocking until 4am in the morning (and 5am on Saturdays).
You're likely to run into a VIP at Billy Dec's River North nightclub, which is frequented by everyone from athletes to movie stars. Though it once sported an underground bunker theme, the subterranean space has been remolded to reflect the tastes of its chic clientele. You’ll find DJs spinning electronic beats, tables sporting bottle service and—if you’re lucky—a famous face to take a selfie with.
Located in Wicker Park's prominent Flat Iron Building, Debonair caters to the young people that seem to fill the neighborhood's streets each weekend. On Fridays and Saturdays, the venue's signature video dance party keeps guests visually stimulated while they groove on the dance floor. Legendary goth and punk club Neo lives on in the basement on Thursday nights with a mix of New Wave and ’80s tunes.
A slick, modern, multilevel Euro-style entry 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, costumed dancers and a powerful sound system, this multiroom venue always seems to boast a spectacular scene.
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.