Where to listen to live music in DC
Catch a touring act, concert or a local musician playing top live music in DC at these venues
The 7 best Washington, DC clubs
Where’s the party? Chances are at one of these reliably rocking DC clubs where top local and international DJs provide the beat.
The best jazz clubs in DC
From lounges to music halls hosting famous artists, here are the best jazz clubs in DC
LGBT nightlife guide for DC
Discover the best lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender bars, clubs, nightlife and more
Where to see live music and concerts
Where to see performing arts in Washington, DC
Enjoy the best in theater, dance, classical music and opera—in the capital’s world-class theaters and concert halls
The best bars in DC
Our guide to the best bars in DC will help you choose your poison and preferred setting, from old-school political hangouts to swanky cocktail parlors
The best clubs in DC
Once a tiny art-scene dive on F Street, renowned for its heat (and smell), the 9:30 relocated in 1996. It now boasts state-of-the-art sound and ventilation, as well as a healthy slate of microbrews. A few long-lived (or reunited) punk and post-punk bands have played both incarnations, among them Wire, the Feelies and Mission of Burma, but these days you’re as likely to see George Clinton, Jane’s Addiction, Andrew Bird, the Magnetic Fields, Snoop Dogg, Patti Smith or the Walkmen, and Adele has performed here too. The open floor and balcony layout is supposed to guarantee unrestricted viewing of the stage from anywhere in the club, and for the most part it succeeds. However, arriving early, scoping out the best vantage point and then standing your ground for the rest of the night is the best way to ensure a good view.
The crowd is West African and African-American but everyone’s welcome to get lost in the sway. The Ghanaian menu is reason alone to visit, but arrive after 10pm and it’s standing room only: be prepared to dance with whoever’s next to you. Nightly bands play reggae, soca and funk.
Eighteenth Street Lounge
Love it or hate it, ESL remains the city’s trendiest and most exclusive lounge, widely renowned (or notorious) for its strict door policy. Should your attire (or your connections) please the notoriously fickle doormen and you’re granted entrance through the unmarked wooden door, you’ll find hipsters mingling and dancing to live jazz or down-tempo electronic music spun by the city’s best DJs.
Latin dance-lovers come here to drink mojitos and get sweaty to a live band. Three stories of music inspire dancers from all nationalities and all levels of proficiency to grab a stranger’s hand and get swinging. Expect live merengue, salsa, and bachata on the top floor, and crowded dance rooms with fans going at full blast.