Sure, this isn't Vegas or New York, but San Francisco's best nightclubs still have plenty of options for both low-key grooving and take-no-prisoners booty shaking (even without the 4am last calls). In clubs across SF, Bay Area and international DJs provide the beat for dance parties featuring ‘80s and ‘90s jams, old-school hip-hop and booming EDM. So when your typical Saturday night cocktail lounge, dive bar or craft brewery just won't do, these top nightclubs in San Francisco invite you to drink up and just dance.
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Nightclubs in San Francisco
The DJs at Club Raven, Raven Bar’s weekly Friday and Saturday night dance parties, specialize in dancey, feel-good nostalgia, spinning pop, hip-hop and R&B from the 1990s to today. Two dance floors are laid out across the venue’s upper and lower levels, with resident VJ Mark Andrus showcasing music videos upstairs. Drink specials and nostalgia combine on Throwback Thursdays for a blast from the past, MTV-style.
This sprawling SoMa lounge spans two stages, seven bars, and four dance floors and boasts an eclectic lineup featuring burlesque dancers, live bands, and experimental DJs spinning to mind-bending visuals. But DNA is best known for its infamous Saturday night event: Bootie SF. The long-running dance party is all about the mashup, combining pop hits (think: Britney vs. Taylor or Gen X vs. Millennials) in a superfun, dancetastic way.
Madrone isn’t a club every night. As its name suggests, the walls of this neighborhood bar on Divisadero Street showcase a wide variety of art, including paintings, mixed-media, video, and photography. That creative ethos, though, regularly spills over into Madrone Art Bar’s monthly calendar, which features a wide variety of dance parties, like Motown Mondays and the Rock Piano series, that fall way outside the typical club soundtrack. . Musical acts ranging from string trios to blues to piano rock take the stage several nights a week and are always rotating, so keep an eye on the calendar.
Amid the glut of EDM at San Francisco’s clubs, Double Dutch is unique. The intimate Mission venue spins only old-school hip-hop and R&B against a backdrop of 1980s New York-inspired murals, graffiti and a giant, vintage boombox. Rotating and guest DJs spin familiar grooves nightly that will have you popping and locking your way back to the days when Run DMC and LL Cool J ruled the airwaves.
There’s a little something for everyone at the Cat Club. Regular themed dance parties get people grooving to the music that most moves them—80s pop and new wave, 70s disco and funk, goth, Brit-pop, and more. The unpretentious club has two dance floors, both with a wild assortment of light and video projections. Those who came to be seen can shake it on raised platforms in the back room or, even better, in the club’s spotlit cages.
This European-style, House-blasting discotech stands out for its unparalleled sound and lighting effects.The club’s known for attracting world-renowned techno, house and EDM acts and putting them in front of equally passionate audiences. The venue also features a complex 3D lighting system full of lasers, robotic lights, a dazzling LED tunnel, and an infinity-mirror vortex. For most events, a RSVP on their website is required; at-the-door covers are usually $20–$30.
The Great Northern, all 1970s glitz and glamour, has two bars, 30-foot ceilings and a giant, writhing, teeming dance floor lit up with the sound of a super-hi-fi 80,000-watt Void audio system. The music here skews towards electronica, but the club also features the occasional jazz or pop artist and themed events like ABBA glitter disco night. This all-inclusive club also hosts regular LGBTQ-friendly dance parties—like Art Battle San Francisco, Mighty Real After Pride Party, and the Set With and Heat series—and showcase everything from GoGo gods (and goddesses) and acrobatic entertainment, to paint-flying creative ventures.
SoMa’s Monarch has three thoughtfully designed and surprisingly refined spaces for all night revelry. The basement club, where the dancing goes down, features a concrete bar and DJ stand, two plush lounge areas, an elevated stage, and a Void Acoustics sound system blasting EDM. Upstairs, the Steampunk-meets-Art-Nouveau lounge showcases a redwood bar, complementary photo booth, and aerial performers twirling overhead in Cirque du Soleil style while in the exclusive Emperor’s Drawing Room, craft cocktail sippers relax in an elegant hideaway inspired by 16th century royal luxury.
OMG isn’t just the name of this LGBTQ SoMa club, it’s a motto. Because whether you’re staring into a $1 well drink or $20 bucket of beer (before 11pm), gaping at well-toned tushies at an Underwear Party, or enjoying an evening of raucous and raunchy drag performances, you’ll no doubt be uttering the three letter statement once or twice. The dance party—which changes with regular themed events—goes down under a central dome lit up by the bar’s ever changing colors. If you’re a performer at heart, OMG’s Comedy Open Mic and Karaoke Nights will have you returning week after week.
The futuristic Temple Nightclub is one of the few San Francisco clubs to give New York and Vegas a run for their money. The expansive main dance floor, immersively lit with 50,000 floor-to-ceiling LED bulbs, is bordered by a stage and seven high-rolling VIP booths; box suites and additional tables hover above on the mezzanine level. The music here is of the electronic variety with world-class DJs taking to the custom DJ booth Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
A gay nightclub in the heart of the Castro, Badlands's aesthetic is steeped in 80s pop. Top 40 tunes, EDM beats and classic 80s hits reverberate off the walls from open to close, sometimes accompanied by music videos. Circular neon light fixtures embellish the dancefloor and bar walls. Every day, from 3pm until 9pm, stop in and get two cocktails for the price of one.
Oasis is a late-night, queer-friendly utopia that serves stiff, well-priced drinks and often hosts some of the city’s more left-of-center happenings. Acts like Seoul Train, Sex and the City Live, Mother, and more grace the stage virtually every night of the week. Created by two of SF’s most recognizable drag queens, Heklina and D’Arcy Drollinger, it should come as no surprise that the two main dance floors are dedicated to grinding and elbow-rubbing. Escape to the upstairs, smoking-friendly patio for some peace and quiet. Or if you’re feeling frisky, stop by for a lush cocktail in the exotic Fez Room.