Temple SF
Photograph: Courtesy Temple SFTemple SF

The best nightclubs in San Francisco

San Francisco's welcoming nightclub scene lets you dance, relax, celebrate and meet people under dim lighting

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In town for a weekend and searching for the best place to party it up? San Francisco has an eclectic assortment of places that cater to your every whim: gay dance clubs, karaoke emporiums, salsa dancefloors and everything in between. Going to a nightclub in San Francisco is the perfect way to cap off a day of hiking this beautiful city’s paths, indulging in romantic meals, enjoying creative public art, and taking in that incredible vista of city, bay and ocean. San Francisco’s history as a music scene during the Summer of Love and the decades thereafter still exists here. Whether you’re enjoying live music or a DJ’s clever selection, you may still feel the echo of Sly and the Family Stone, Jefferson Airplane, Carlos Santana, the Grateful Dead, Journey and other bands who established themselves in the heart of San Francisco. So lift a glass, post up at the bar and chatter away when the lights go down in the city.

San Francisco's best nightclubs

  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • SoMa
  • price 2 of 4

The DJs at Club Raven, Raven Bar’s weekly Friday and Saturday night dance parties, specialize in dancey, feel-good nostalgia—billing it as a “night of throwbacks with a few future throwbacks.” Two dance floors are laid across the venue’s upper and lower levels, with resident video DJs Mark Andrus and Scotty Fox showcasing music videos upstairs.

Billed as a "community-minded nightclub and event space," Public Works is an industrial-style Mission District nightclub that often partners with non-profits and local acts. The crowd here is eclectic—anyone is welcome—and the venue often hosts international DJs, underground artists and local musicians. Check out the sprung hardwood floors and Funktion-One sound system.

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  • Clubs
  • SoMa

This sprawling SoMa lounge spans two stages, seven bars, and four dance floors and a late-night restaurant and cafe to fuel your kinetic triumph. Here, you’ll experience everything from burlesque dancers, live bands, and experimental DJs spinning to … a lecture series. Quirky fun: Every third Thursday, step away from dancing to catch the Dirty Talk Game Show, where panelists compete to be crowned the Filthiest Mouth in San Francisco.

 

  • Alamo Square

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 spills over into the events, including Motown on Mondays and other dance parties on the tiny dance floor. We’re intrigued by the Live Model Tuesday Sketch (yep, sketch a live model while accompanied by Newman’s Cavalcade jazz-meets-mayhem). Sounds fun!

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  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • SoMa

There’s a little something for everyone at the Cat Club located south of Market. 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, with a wild assortment of light and video projections, and two full bars, a smoking alley, VIP booths and the go-go cage.

  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • SoMa
  • price 3 of 4

This European-style, House-blasting discotheque stands out for its unparalleled sound and lighting effects with the world’s first Funktion One 3D surround system and speakers. It attracts world-renowned techno, house and EDM acts and equally passionate audiences. The complex 3-D lighting system showcases lasers, robotic lights, a dazzling LED tunnel, and an infinity mirror vortex.

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  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • Mission
  • price 2 of 4

The Great Northern, with its “FutureDeco” aesthetic based on Art Moderne, offers 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.

  • Nightlife
  • SoMa
  • price 2 of 4

SoMa’s Monarch has three thoughtfully designed spaces for late 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. Upstairs, the Steampunk-meets-Art-Nouveau lounge showcases a redwood bar, while the Emperor’s Drawing Room is an elegant hideaway inspired by 16th-century royal luxury.

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  • Nightlife
  • Clubs
  • SoMa
  • price 1 of 4

OMG isn’t just the name of this LGBTQ+ SoMa club, it’s a motto. Because while you’re staring at well-toned physiques at Wednesday’s Underwear Party or enjoying an evening of raucous and raunchy drag performances, you’ll no doubt be uttering the three-letter statement. Dance parties go down under a central dome lit by the bar’s ever-changing colors. You’ll love the Comedy Open Mic and Karaoke Nights if you're a ham.

  • Clubs
  • SoMa
  • price 2 of 4

The futuristic Temple Nightclub gives New York and Vegas a run for their money. The expansive main dance floor, immersively pumping with a Void sound system and extraordinary LED lighting, is bordered by a stage and seven VIP booths. On the lower level, LVL 55 offers 15 VIP tables for those wanting a more intimate experience, while seasonally, the rooftop Skyline Lounge gives great skyline and sunset views.

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  • Nightlife
  • SoMa
  • price 1 of 4

Oasis is a late-night, queer-friendly utopia with superstar drag shows, cabaret performances and plenty of dancing on the enormous dance floor. This 8,000-square-foot club resides in a converted gay bathhouse with a rotating calendar of fun performances.

Another SoMa standout, this nightclub’s been around since 1973 with a dance floor with “provocative lighting” and thumping bass sound system, two bars, a luxury VIP lounge, a third outdoor bar on a tropical patio with a waterfall and food stand, and get this: an all-glass private outdoor cabana. Nice.

 

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It bills itself as America’s wildest adult nightclub. Need we say more than that you can get free safe sex supplies at the front counter? Unlike the attendees, cell phones get turned off, and you must dress upscale. Dancing here may get eclipsed by the sexual partnering up...but we hope and trust someone’s still spinning the tunes.

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It might be the biggest nightclub on our list, at 20,000 square feet and five rooms over three stories. 1015 Folsom is proud that it was the first to feature electronic music back in the 1990s, along with clubs in New York and Chicago. Today, it’s a massive playhouse in the SoMa neighborhood with a great calendar of visiting talent.

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