When you want to do some serious business on the dance floor, it’s best to head to smaller, no-frills spots and classic live music venues where the grooves are infectuous and busting a move is the main event. Our picks for the best clubs in Los Angeles will play dance party hits and feed your need for everything from hip hop and salsa to reggae and soul.
Best clubs in Los Angeles
Part Time Punks does something few other local nights have ever accomplished: They’ve taken what is, to most, a time-capsule micro genre and turned it a current major industry. “They” is actually just one man, Michael Stock, the DJ, promoter, flyer-maker as well as a radio show host for a KXLU show of the same name. Through the expertise of Stock, the regular Sunday night event focuses on DIY and indie music of the present and past, and has played host to a ridiculously prolific list of guest genre bands. Oh, and it’s been running since 2005, which is unheard of for almost anywhere. Funky Sole is just as good: A raw soul party that will transport you straight to Funkytown every Saturday night. The DJs dig deep in their crates to bring you unique, obscure grooves from the late 1960s and early ’70s (many so rare that your phone app won’t even recognize them). But even if the tunes are vintage, the moves on the floor are up-to-the-minute. A critical mass of b-boys and b-girls show up to break on the funk beats, making the music seem as fresh as ever. The mood is buoyant, the dancers are gawk-worthy and the journey’s sure to funk you up.
DTLA’s indoor/outdoor Mexi-megalopolis La Cita has been supporting weekly nights of all stripes for more years than Downtown has been re-christened "cool." Resident DJs Michael Stock and Boss Harmz have combined the aesthetics of their other parties—Part Time Punks and Dub Club, respectively—to start Punky Reggae (Fridays), the only party on this list whose name pays tribute to both Bob Marley and The Slits’ Ari Up (RIP). It promises not only punk and reggae, but also mutant disco and post-punk, and even ska. Guest sets come from varied DJs, some of which include the likes of Roger Cretin and Alex Transistor and live performances from genre acts such as Jah Faith & the Royal Lineage, Extra Classic and San Francisco’s Andy Human & the Reptoids.
Framework entered the game in 2015, but on a rather large scale. Thrown at yet another massive-yet-slightly-more-intimate nightclub, this Friday night party has already played host to big dawgs like Danny Tenaglia, Soul Clap, Marques Wyatt, Stacey Pullen, Seth Troxler, Kenny Glasgow and Felix da Housecat. Framework also throws private weekly events, warehouse parties as well as some epic one-off shows around town.
This Saturday night “no frills dance party” started in Seattle before expanding to Portland, NYC and L.A., and even headied out on an 18-city North American tour in 2016. Dance Yourself Clean has an all-inclusive musical vibe playing the dance indie-pop hits of yesteryear as well as today. The party is a welcome throwback to late-’90s/mid-’00s parties like NYC’s Misshapes (or basically any party at this venue when it was still called Spaceland). The kind of party that lovingly lists the bands who play on its flyers and Facebook page. To give you an idea of what to listen for, expect international artists like Cut Copy, Grimes, St. Lucia, Blood Orange, Chromeo, Is Tropical and, obviously, LCD Soundsystem.
This Friday night variety show of debauchery and unapologetic attitude has enough makeup, wigs and heels to sustain you until the following Queen Kong event. Hosted by the Boulet Brothers—the drag queen and gay nightlife icons that hail from NYC—Queen Kong features stage shows from multiple drag celebrities like Alaska Thunderfuck and Kevin Aviance to help you welcome the weekend. After getting your fill of unshameful performances, you can head to the outdoor balcony for a breather and chat with a fellow Eastsider who is so over the WeHo nightlife scene.
Every Wednesday night, the cavernous Echoplex sets sail to Jamaica when this roots reggae party kicks off. The biggest names out of Kingston have played Dub Club, from Sister Nancy and Eek-A-Mouse to Wailing Soul, but the club also welcomes locally-grown talent as well as acts from equally salt-of-the-earth genres like cumbia and Afrobeat. So expect to do more than just sway to the steel drum; most nights, there’s bona fide ass shaking underway. You’ll be elbow-to-elbow with cool kids and old timers, including a critical mass of dreadlocked rastas and the girls who love them, all feeling irie.
If you are indeed looking for the “mega-club experience,” the historic building that houses the massive Avalon has got you covered for the weekend. The one-two punch of Control (Fridays) and Avalon (Saturdays) is filled with ravers, rollers, bottle servers and more friggin’ lasers than you can shake a glowstick at. But they’ve played host to some of the biggest names in progressive house, big-room bass and EDM such as Major Lazer, Hot Chip, Erick Morillo, Skrillex, Waka Flocka Flame and Wolfgang Gartner. Ticket prices vary, but expect to spend more than most other entries on this list.