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A club with a crowd in front of a stage
Photograph: Flickr/Bryan Lee/CC

The 13 best nightclubs in DC

Want to party? Head to one of these top nightclubs in DC, grab a drink and start shaking it.

By Rina Rapuano and Leslie Quander Wooldridge
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Many people envision the stereotypical dance club as a bouncer-curated crowds of scantily clad girls flirting for free drinks—and guys who are only too willing to comply—but many other nightclubs in DC offer their own special flavors, with some skewing Latin or hip-hop, others more loungey and chill and a few that draw high-rollers (on high rooftops) with their swanky bottle service. Where one space is enormous and pulsating with energy, another might be an intimate pick-up bar. Whatever your jam, DC’s got you covered, and this list will help you dial up just the right place for a high-energy, ultra-fun night out with friends on the town. The next morning, refuel with the best brunch in DC

RECOMMENDED: The best bars in DC

Best nightclubs in DC

A band on a stage under green and red lights
Photograph: Flickr/Theresa C. Sanchez/CC

1. Echostage

This cavernous, warehouse-like space spanning 30,000 square feet in Northeast is so large that there’s virtually no chance you’ll be stuck in line waiting to get in. Order drinks from one of two 60-foot bars or reserve a table on a mezzanine for bottle service and prime views of the bouncing crowd below. The top-notch lighting and sound systems attract DJ talents from around the globe, and live music shows also pop up on the calendar here and there.

Eighteenth Street Lounge, DC
Photograph: Flickr/Ted Swedenburg

2. Eighteenth Street Lounge

Music Dupont Circle

Picture dancing in your best friend’s Northwest DC mansion, which just happens to boast flattering lighting and comfy, vintage seating scattered about. That’s Eighteenth Street Lounge. The club features five rooms: The Main Room, with a working fireplace and views of the dance floor; The Gold Room, which is good for private events; The Jazz Bar with live jazz and a whiskey and Scotch bar; Addendum Bar, a speakeasy; and Deck Bar with a 40-foot bar, retractable roof, DJ booth and dance floor. The live music and popular reggae and salsa nights keeps locals and visitors coming back every night of the week. 

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U Street Music Hall DC
Photograph: Flickr/Theresa C. Sanchez

3. U Street Music Hall

Clubs U Street Corridor

This DJ-owned basement dance club and live music venue regularly hosts popular parties like Deep Sugar, a classic soul dance night, and Werk Ethic featuring 1980s and '90s house and techno. You won’t find super huge crowds—capacity maxes out at 500—but you will find an excellent sound system and a 1,200-square-foot cork-cushioned dance floor. The space features limited bar seating and advance ticket sales for shows, which are listed on the website. Bonus for laid-back types who prefer comfy kicks: There’s no official dress code.

SAX
Photograph: Courtesy SAX

4. SAX

Restaurants Downtown

This sumptuous restaurant and lounge serves up a cabaret experience before transforming into a dance club with bottle service at 11:30pm on weekends. Step inside the open space—featuring a 60-foot high ceiling—and take in the Versailles-inspired crystal chandeliers and golden accents. While the mix of house and Top 40 music is sure to amuse, the standout here is the live entertainment from the 20-foot enclosed stage over the first-floor bar. Performances range from modern ballet to acrobatic pole dancing, and aerialists sometimes descend from above the lounge’s dance floor. 

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5. Flash

Choose from three distinct levels at Flash: the club level, outfitted with studio-quality acoustics, trippy lighting, a dance floor, bar and (gasp!) seating; the ground floor with a separate dance floor and bespoke cocktails like a barrel-aged Negroni; and a rooftop dance floor with a retractable roof and skyline views. Up there, the drink menu includes frozen cocktails, juices and kombucha. DJs come from all over the world to spin house music every Friday and Saturday night. 

POV
Photograph: Daniel Swartz

6. POV at W Washington DC

Bars Hotel bars Downtown

The big draw at this hotel’s rooftop lounge? Unparalleled views of the cityscape (including the Washington Monument and White House) from the top-floor terrace. Spend time lounging outside under the covered awning or venture inside, where you can dance on the newly tiled floor or chill with bottle service. The dress code of “casual sophistication” is enforced after 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, so make sure to dress appropriately. You’ll see that gentlemen in suits are not uncommon, as the city’s lobbyists and lawyers prowl the scene. The drinks, while tasty, are on the pricier side. 

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7. The Park at Fourteenth

Clubs Downtown

Come in for happy hour—held Thursdays and Fridays from 5-7pm—or drop by for dinner Thursday, Friday or Saturday; Either way, stay for the dancing. Cruise through the swanky, wood-paneled space that spans four floors and expect to move to hip-hop, R&B, top 40 and even reggae. Do dress to impress since doormen are onsite to make sure everyone adheres to the strict dress code that prohibits “tattered clothing, certain athletic wear and extremely provocative attire.” The dress code doesn’t relax for Saturday and Sunday brunch—which start at 3pm and 1pm, respectively—and offers daytime bottle service for those who adhere to the it’s 5 o'clock somewhere lifestyle. 

Nellie's Sports Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Nellie's Sports Bar/Felipe Valenzuela

8. Nellie's Sports Bar

A typical sports bar on most nights—when football games are shown on a big screen and $15 buckets of Bud are on offer—transforms into a very different scene on Friday and Saturday, when you'll find locals dancing under disco balls until 3am to what the bar describes as bubbly pop. Return to the longtime favorite the next morning for a Saturday or Sunday drag brunch that includes an all-you-can-eat buffet. 

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Café Citron
Photograph: Courtesy Café Citron

9. Cafe Citron

Restaurants Latin American Dupont Circle

This colorful venue serves an array of Latin American dishes—then turns into a dance club starting at 10pm. The club’s three levels recently underwent a refresh that includes new floors, updated color schemes and a neon sign that says “meet your sole mate.” DJs spin Latin house and pop and reggaeton tunes, with some salsa, bachata and Middle Eastern melodies thrown in every night of the week (plus free salsa lessons happen Wednesday–Saturday from 8–10pm). There’s a dress code on Fridays and Saturdays, and you should get there before 11pm or reserve for bottle service to avoid waiting in line.

A woman singing with maracas and other bandmates on stage
Photograph: Flickr/Miki Jourdan/CC

10. Tropicalia

Located at the intersection of 14th and U, this underground spot with a glowing white bar top bills itself as a “dance club for grown-ups,” offering live shows and DJs that weave in AfroHouse, Latin, reggae and hip-hop. Those who stumble across this hidden gem love the no-fuss, come-as-you-are vibe that means you don’t have to dress up. The ’90s Nostalgia nights are popular, and there’s often no cover even on busy weekend evenings. It’s also wheelchair accessible.

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Joy Asico
Photograph: Joy Asico

11. Soundcheck

Clubs Downtown

Renowned DJs like Martin Garrix and Zedd have hit this audiophile-friendly space (the club’s music technology includes a German-imported system complemented by 4-inch thick soundproof foam in the walls and ceiling). Choose between EDM parties featuring house, trance and more; hip-hop nights; and Avalon Saturdays, when LGBTQ Washingtonians take over the dance floor. Two disco balls and 85-plus lighting fixtures will capture your attention after the sound system pulls you in. The club is 18+ Wednesday through Friday and Sunday, 21+ on Saturdays. 

The facade of Rosebar
Photograph: Flickr/Elvert Barnes/CC

12. Rosebar

Clubs

Enter and walk up the stairs, where you’ll find a bar, some tables and a small dance floor. Up another set of stairs is the rooftop bar decked out with a DJ booth, a larger dance floor and VIP tables that should be reserved ahead. Regulars appreciate the strong drinks, the fun hookahs and free water—and maybe the servers dressed in red lingerie. Pulsing crowds move to R&B, rap and hip-hop. Be prepared for doormen and a security check—and also be stylish (no athletic wear or flip flops are allowed). If you reserve a spot through Eventbrite and turn up before 11pm, the club waives its $20 cover. 

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HEIST
Photograph: Courtesy HEIST

13. HEIST

Clubs Dupont Circle

To enter this subterranean space, spot the unassuming outside entrance in Dupont Circle, walk through the street-level doors and down the stairs to discover a darkened, intimate cavern featuring black leather seating and tones of gold. Inside, stylish visitors will also find carefully crafted cocktails and top-shelf champagnes. Open-format DJs spin from a Chesterfield leather booth outfitted with a 24-karat-gold buffalo skull—and they play everything from hip-hop to EDM.

Hit the town in DC

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