• Bukom Café

    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.

  • 9:30 Club

    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, Read more [...]

  • Velvet Lounge

    Comfy, funky and groovy, the Velvet Lounge is a popular, divey kind of place to stop off for a drink. Often the province of local bands and DJs—and their friends whooping them on from the audience—the Lounge also books indie-rockers from far outside the Beltway, including such cult acts as Read more [...]

  • Habana Village

    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 Read more [...]

  • Café Saint-Ex

    Named for Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the French aviator and author of The Little Prince, this brasserie aims to evoke the watering holes of Paris’s Latin Quarter and, in the basement-level lounge, the heroic days of aviation. And if pressed-tin ceilings, tobacco-stained walls and borderline service are your thing, then voila! Read more [...]

  • Science Club

    Rest assured, you don’t need to know the difference between the second law of thermodynamics and the third law of motion to get in here. In fact, the name comes from the decor: bargoers in this four-level space sit on round metal stools salvaged from a high-school chemistry lab. Apart Read more [...]

  • 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 Read more [...]

  • The Birchmere

    Originally a bluegrass, folk and country institution, the Birchmere is one of those venues artists can’t bear to outgrow. Patty Loveless might play a couple of nights here in the fall before heading to Wolf Trap in the spring, and Merle Haggard’s annual gigs always sell out. Now the Birchmere Read more [...]

  • U Street Music Hall

    This bare-bones basement club, which emphasizes music over luxury, arrived just in time for the economic downturn. The vibe is closer to a rock club than a “bottle service” lounge, and rock bands perform live. But the club’s founders, local DJs Will Eastman and Jesse Tittsworth, built the room for Read more [...]

  • Town Danceboutique

    One of the city’s most popular and packed dance clubs, with two floors and multiple rooms, Town also has a performance space hosting drag shows every weekend, plus a comfortable lounge. A “DC Bear Crue” happy hour takes place Fridays 6-11pm. Occasional theme parties (superheroes was a recent one) are Read more [...]