Washington DC nightclubs, bars and lounges are a playground for recording artists, politicians, students, athletes, tourists and more. Overshadowed by destinations like NY, LA and Miami, it’s easy to see how DC nightlife has flown under the radar. However, many of the world’s biggest names party in and return to The District.

We’ve popped bottles with Drake, done shots with FC Barcelona, had David Guetta name Glow the best party in the world, gotten ‘Lost’ with Miles and Frank Lapidus, done happy hour with Donald Rumsfeld, the list goes on. With the third largest college population in the nation, the DC crowd knows how to get down.

In no particular order:

echostage washington dc

Echostage

Echostage is an all-purpose concert venue built to host large-scale productions. The venue is one massive room with elongated bars, VIP mezzanines, a photo pit, etc. Everything you would expect at a live venue. It’s the largest nightlife concert hall in DC.

With its doors opening in September 2012, the Echostage schedule has already featured the top 3 DJs in the world in Armin van Buuren, Tiesto and Avicii as well as Hip-Hop and Dancehall stars Big Sean and Beenie Man.

See our complete overview of Echostage

Barcode DC Restaurant, dc nightlife

From happy hour to dinner, cocktails and beyond, Barcode caters to DC’s young professionals.

Barcode

Minted in the fourth quarter of 2010, Barcode is a venue that moves with the customer. A typical day goes something like lunch, happy hour, dinner, party. The kitchen is open every day until midnight and features trusted American classics with a twist. The bar features extensive beer and wine menus as well as specialty drinks balancing homemade syrups, fresh citrus and floral essences. Barcode is geared towards young professionals (and older) who aren’t quite ready to let go of the care-free life.

See our complete overview of Barcode

U Hall washington dc dance clubs

Famous for it’s ‘come as your are’ mentality, U-Hall is famous for underground dance parties and indie rock and hip-hop shows.

U-Street Music Hall

U-Hall, as it is affectionately know, is an underground DJ and concert venue that focuses on the music. No bottle service, no state of the art light system, no bells, no whistles. The sound system is one of the best in DC nightlife. Featuring DJ acts in the evening spinning techno, dubstep, moombahton and underground house; and live acts early doing indy, punk, samba, rap, big band and more; U-Hall caters to the ‘be yourself and let loose’ kind of crowd.

See our complete overview of U-Hall

Josephine DC lounges

Patrons of Josephine include Donovan McNab, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo and Ronaldinho and more.

Josephine

Named after Napoleon’s wife, Josephine is a study in VIP grandeur. The K-Street hot spot’s pampered party-goers enjoy first-class table service, the infamous Pit (a sunken dance-floor with VIP tables lining the edges) as well as the Gold Room in the back.

Whether it’s a Latin, Nightlife Industry, Hip-Hop or EDM crowd, one thing is certain – the people look good and the liquor flows like water.

See our complete overview of Josephine

Public Bar DC Bars

DC’s #1 Sports Bar is so much more than a place to go on Sunday.

Public

Public is the king of DC sports bars. The former club Five space has been artfully transformed to a sports lover’s paradise. With a reckless amount of TV’s, projectors and various floors, Public is the choice to watch NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, boxing, UFC and NCAA events.

It’s also a great place to go out too, with DJ’s spinning dance and top 40 long after the game has ended. Hungry? Public offers a varied menu and a great selection of beer, plus a monthly rotation of 4 new regional beers on draft.

Combine all that with a great rooftop patio, and you have a bar heavyweight! There’s no way that your group won’t have a good time; day or night.

See our complete overview of Public

best club for live music in dc

The 9:30 Club is a DC tradition

9:30 Club

The 9:30 Club has long been a staple of DC nightlife, opening its doors to the public in 1980. Historically a rock venue, the 9:30 Club has featured plenty of legendary acts over the years, including Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and the Beastie Boys.

Recent acts include Passion Pit, Major Lazer, Rusko and more.

See our complete overview of 9:30 Club

Eden DC Club Eden DC DC Nightlife

One of DC’s hottest nightlife venues!

Eden

A hot choice amongst the DC club crowd. Catering to the higher-end of the 21-30 crowd, Eden has a reputation for excellent table service and quality music.

The most popular spot in Eden is the rooftop. Featuring a massive LED-faced DJ booth at the head of the space, a long bar running the length of the room, heaters in the winter and high-demand VIP tables, Eden’s outdoor rooftop is one of the hottest spots in DC.

See our complete overview of Eden

The Park at 14th DC Nightlife DC Clubs

Enjoy happy hour, dinner and stay for the beautiful faces

The Park at 14th

The Park is a stylish, four-story restaurant and lounge where you can relish in the latest Americana fare prepared in view in the signature, open-concept kitchen on the first floor. Their happy hour starts early and the venue stays packed well into the evening.

Political movers and shakers, renowned celebrities and high-profile sports figures have all made appearances at Park.

See our complete overview of The Park

Ultrabar Nightclub Washington DC Clubs

4 floors, 6 bars and mayhem at every turn!

Ultrabar

Ultrabar is one of DC’s most-frequented clubs week in and week out. With four floors, six bars, two mezzanines and 4 DJs; it’s no wonder the line is known to extend down the block and around the corner!

Free entry passes, a multitude of bottle service options, an intimate lower-level lounge and great drink specials make Ultrabar arguably DC’s #1 ‘party club.’

See our complete overview of Ultrabar Nightclub

cities restaurant lounge dc

Cities

Cities is a restaurant/lounge that turns into an upscale nightlife hangout during the evening. To some the crowd may seem pretentious, though others would argue they’re simply people who enjoy being seen enjoying the high life. Regardless, Cities is one of DC’s hot spots.

The food is good, the concept is admirable and the setting extremely comfortable.

See our complete overview of Cities

Do you agree the above mentioned venues are the best in DC nightlife? Let us know what your favorite DC nightlife destinations are! Please leave your comments below.

16 Responses to “The Experts Have Decided: DC Nightlife’s 10 Hottest Clubs”

  1. Max says:

    Where is U st music hall? Best sound system in DC deserves a mention at least

    • Warren says:

      Seeing as how I’ve only been to three of the venues that are listed, two of which regularly I go to, I’m not in a position to take issue with the list. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I think the article should include the names of the people who were consulted in compiling the list and exactly how it was made. I will add that Buddha-bar — with a really good house DJ, attractive and sophisticated clientele and extensive, though a little pricey, even by D.C. standards, drink selection — is one of my favorite places to go on Friday nights.

    • Carrie says:

      Agreed! I live at U Hall! It is my home and the sound system is sick!

    • getfresh says:

      I wouldn’t call U-street the best set up in DC. Granted U-Street gets great rare acts, and does great shows. It however, has a toilet bowl acoustic value. There are much better venues, sound wise. Strictly speaking from an acoustic stand point.

  2. Forest says:

    Where is the Sweet Spot? U St. Music Hall? 18th Street Lounge? This is a list for people who go to clubs to “be seen,” and not for the music.

  3. Charlie says:

    What kind of “expert” leaves out U Street Music Hall. Bogus.

  4. DLW says:

    I like most of the clubs on here, but why didn’t Current and Eighteenth Street Lounge make the cut?

  5. […] Is there an afterparty? We do not have a sponsored afterparty.  However, if you’re looking for something to do on Thursday and Friday before the show, we’ve got Dada Life on Thursday at Lima and DJ Spider on Friday at Ultrabar.  We also have a great list of the top 10 dc nightclubs. […]

  6. Joe says:

    Most of these clubs are either owned or promoted by certain individuals. It’s obviously bias and shocases clubs where table reservation and bottle service are encouraged and they really don’t care about the music nor the DJ. You can plug in an ipod and press play and no one would know or care!! I tend to stay away from any club that lists mashups as a music genre!!! and 18th Street Lounge, U st music hall and sweet spot should have been listed here but their owners care about the integrity of music not photo ops and bottle service and I’m sure that is the main reason they are not listed here.

  7. Joe says:

    Eden list the following… A hot choice amongst DC nightlife regulars. Catering to the higher-end of the 21-30 crowd, Eden has a reputation for excellent table service and quality music too.

    What is “higher-end” 21-30 crowd??? WTF!

    Might as well say we cater to spoiled ass rich kids who are in DC for college spending mommy and daddy’s money!!

    They actually have a floor (rooftop) that requires a 1 bottle minimum for you to even go in… Idiots and the above mentioned rich kids spending daddy’s money regularly pay $300 for a $45 bottle of alchohol!

    What ever happened to going to a club to dance and have a good time with friends??

  8. Joe says:

    Promoters at Shadow room have been known to tell the DJ not to play any Hip-Hop music because it attracts blacks… But you go there and see black people spending money all night!! they smile in your face, take your money and at the end of the night you’re still a “N” word…

    Keep going to these places idiots!!

  9. DC Nightclubs DC Clubs says:

    To clarify, these are the best Mainstream Dance clubs in our opinion. We also feel like places like Current, 18th Street Lounge, and U-hall are great spots too, but they would be in a different category.

    In the future, we’ll have a top 10 Lounges and Top 10 live music venues, and I have a feeling those spots will show up on those lists 🙂

  10. Roscoe says:

    I’ve been to 5 of them and heard a lot of good things about others. But, I have to disagree on Josephine and would rather include U St. Music Hall or even Lotus.

  11. […] Marc Barnes (Love, Park), Mike Romeo (Fur, Lotus, Tattoo, Midtown, Dirty Martini), Charles Zhou (Eden, Muse), Andre Demoya (Eyebar which later became Eden) all got their start in DC as promoters at […]

  12. dcdude says:

    what about IBIZA, across the street from fur. Its huge thats gotta be the biggest club in
    dc, since the rise and fall of LOVE. lux deserves an honorable mention.
    Nothing will ever top the old DCLIVE.

  13. […] nightlife. Located on the bottom level of Tattoo Bar, Ink. follows the layout found in many other nightclubs, bars and lounges in Washington, D.C. Upon entering Ink., one enters into an underground […]

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