Best Nightclubs in San Francisco
There are the nights you want to maybe sway a little and bend your knees to a beat. And then there are the nights when you want to feel like Kevin Bacon in Footloose, or Jennifer Beals in Flashdance, or Michael Jackson every day of his life (RIP Mike). For those nights, head to any of these poppin’ dance floors and prepare to sweat.
If you head here after work midweek — or have ever mingled with co-workers in the steampunk-inspired upstairs bar — you might find it hard to believe that there’s a booming dance space downstairs, a secret private room behind an unmarked door, and acrobats hanging from the ceiling. But all those things exist each weekend, especially around midnight.
Situated above a snazzy bar spot that looks like it was pulled straight out of a billionaire’s hunting lodge, this probably-owned-by-the-same-billionaire club’s got a constant rotating list of imported DJs, custom color-changing lights, and a brand-new Funktion-One sound system — because apparently even respected audio engineers like bad puns.
This guy’s home to Bootie (a quintessentially SF party), has three dance floors (some with ’90s R&B, some with trance, etc.), draws people ranging from the Marina to Oakland (OK, probably further than that), and if you buy tickets ahead of time, you get to skip past all the newbies in line. Also, 3am pizza!
Veritgo’s got 1) a huge international crowd, 2) a penchant for playing Top 40 that you can get weird to like you maybe do when driving alone in your car, and 3) a hot dog cart outside where, hypothetically, someone could easily steal your bacon-wrapped one and force you to chase them down, trip, and tear your jeans… hypothetically.
This bi-level spot is pretty great for the upstairs VIP area (if you’re the bottle service type), otherwise, the line can get a little dicey and the near-entrance bar can clog things up a bit… but the dance floor is always pretty packed and playing EDM.
Despite the extremely upscale décor, it’s actually one of the cheaper clubs to get into if you sign up on the online guest list ($10 instead of $20). Plus, if you follow it on Instagram, it’s constantly doing promotions for free bottle service. Yes, please.
Madrone offers a reason to practice your Michael Jackson impression seven nights a week — Motown Monday is particularly bucket list-worthy — and the dance floor is always crowded with people gyrating as if literally no one is watching. But everyone is.
The pub-like vibe upfront conceals the fact that the black-painted back room offers one of the most underrated dance experiences maybe ever. The music is a mixture of top 40, wedding jams, and everything you grinded to at a middle-school dance, and it’s so dark and transformative anything can happen, but mostly… impromptu Dancing with the Stars reenactments.
Unlike most spots on this list, this SF institution is likely not in your usual Saturday-night-out circuit (although please introduce yourself if it is). Still you haven’t truly lived or experienced romance until you’ve twirled someone on the gorgeous Art Deco dance floor under the mirrored ceiling set 21 floors up.
The DJs’ preferences for 1990s hip-hop and funk make cramming into the graffitied dance floor lined with vintage boomboxes worth it. The music is hard to beat anywhere else, especially if you’re looking for hip-hop, so it’s unfortunate that there’s also a high likelihood you’ll get felt up while you’re just trying to “Creep” — in the TLC way; not in the weird handsy way. Or maybe that’s a plus? Either way, if you’re looking for a modern-day Dirty Dancing scene, go here, but leave your watermelon at home — there’s no room.