Although the city of Brotherly Love is infamously known for its gritty dive and sports bars, nationally-acclaimed restaurants and a whole lot of local museums, the best clubs in Philly are also fun options when in the mood to wear something snazzy and dance until the wee hours.
A typical club night in Philadelphia is usually characterized by tight, sweaty dance floors, cheap drinks and admission, and crazy danceable tunes from a thriving community of local DJs. But a host of larger clubs in and around Center City have opened recently, changing up the scene with Miami-style amenities like VIP sections and bottle service, swanky decor and amazing light and sound shows.
On our guide, find both budget-friendly options and more out-there ones for when you’re in a baller mood.
Equal parts retro diner and raging nightclub, this popular Northern Liberties haunt makes for a well-rounded Saturday night with cheap drinks, a packed dance floor and late-night dinner service to soak up all the booze. The nightclub, decked out with neon lighting, a black-and-white tile floor and disco-ball chandeliers, gets shoulder-to-shoulder packed on Saturday nights, when Philly’s DJ Deejay rolls in to spin a mix of guilty-pleasure pop and hip-hop favorites. Weeknights feature a more laid-back vibe, especially during the warmer months, when the crowd spills out into the Alice in Wonderland-inspired back patio.
The glowing, neon-lit wall on Dolphin Tavern’s dance floor is Instagrammable AF, if that’s your thing, but chances are you’re here for the music (and the modest $5 cover). Home to one of Philly’s most eclectic mix of DJs and dance nights, you will find something you like at this South Philly institution. Recurring parties include disco night Hooked; Basic, a mix of pop and indie tunes with DJ Flufftronix; and Holy Trinity, a monthly rager paying homage to Beyoncé, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj. The Dolphin is open Wednesdays through Saturdays only, and has a great 10pm happy hour with $1 well drinks and Tecates.
This swanky rooftop bar on top of the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Philadelphia in Old City offers a chill vibe and gorgeous views of the city if you want to grab cocktails during the week, but weekends heat up with a rotating lineup of DJs and the occasional celebrity guest. This isn’t your typical Philly nightclub experience: a casual yet upscale dress code is enforced and drinks are pricey. The top-tier champagne list is particularly splurge-worthy.
This subterranean nightclub in Philly’s business district stands out on the local nightclub scene with a funky, retro aesthetic and a giant ball pit (yes, you heard that right). The 15,000-square-foot space is only open on Friday and Saturday nights (and the occasional Thursday), when a rotating list of guest DJs rolls through to play throwback hits from the ’80s, ’90s and 2000s. There’s no dress code, but be sure to chuck your shoes and heels before crashing into that ball pit.
This funky gem, located in a narrow alleyway off of 13th Street in the Gayborhood, is loaded with character. The dimly lit ground level is adorned with vintage artwork—mostly of the female-focused, soft-porn variety—frilly lamps and even taxidermy fish. This is a great place to congregate around the bar, with cocktail in hand, but upstairs is where the party’s at. DJs roll in around 10pm on Friday and Saturday nights for ragers that usually come with a $5 cover.
Beloved Fishtown haunt The Barbary sometimes serves as an all-age live music venue but, most weeks, the club’s schedule is stacked with 21-plus throwback dance parties, including the long-running Tigerbeats, an indie rock bash that draws big crowds on Monday nights, and “Through Being Cool,” a monthly emo night that’s a lot less sappy than it sounds. Be sure to bring some green as the bar is cash-only.
This storied Old City bar turned Southern gastropub recently re-opened its second-level live performance space after nearly a decade-long hiatus. In its heyday, Upstairs at the Khyber welcomed everyone from Iggy Pop to Kurt Vile to the Smashing Pumpkins, but seasoned nightlife-goers will remember legendary dance parties like Making Time that once rocked the tiny, bare bones space. That vibe will live on in this new iteration, with events like old-school-soul dance party Boogaloo mixed into its lineup of rock, comedy and drag shows.
Philadelphia meets Vegas at this trendy nightlife spot in Chinatown that’s decked out with glitzy chandeliers, plush booths and one of the biggest disco balls in the city. Noto (short for “not of the ordinary”) is the place to go if you’re looking to spread out, with a 2,900-square-foot main room, a balcony level that nearly surrounds the entire dance floor, three bars and a whopping 27 restrooms. It’s also the place to check out a list of international DJs who spin on a platform surrounded by a 420-square-foot LED wall.
During the week—especially in the summer—Woody’s is one of the Gayborhood’s busiest happy hour hangouts, but on weekends it can barely contain the sea of tank-top-clad fellas (and bachelorette parties!) that flood in for a night of drinking, dancing and boys-will-be-boys-ing. This is Philadelphia’s oldest gay bar, but it keeps things fresh with recent expansion projects that include the swanky, neon-hued Glo Bar cocktail lounge just off the main bar area downstairs. On the upper level, local DJs and a shimmering disco ball preside over a spacious dance floor that stays thumping until 2am.
This three-story dance complex in the heart of the Gayborhood is one of the only after-hours joints in town. When everything else closes at 2am, Voyeur rages on with a lineup of energetic, EDM-focused DJs and epic light shows in the main room. For a more relaxed experience, the club offers bottle service and VIP seating in its retro-chic mezzanine lounge. Think you see flurries? Don’t worry, you’re not hallucinating. The club is also equipped with a state of the art bubble machine that replicates snow.
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