Location! Location! Location!
Only when the music is blasting, the crowd is hot and the drinks are flowing can all the stresses of normal life disappear. But picking the correct venue amongst a seemingly endless sea in DC nightlife can be a daunting task.
Fear not, nightlife novices, for after reading this guide you will be equipped with all the information you need to conquer the finest dc clubs, lounges, and bars.
Don’t waste your time stuck in traffic, looking for a spot and waiting in line only to find you’re in the wrong place. Every DC venue offers a different vibe – reflective of the neighborhood it’s located in.
Upscale neighborhoods have upscale clubs and lounges. College neighborhoods have college clubs and bars. Gay areas have, you guessed it, gay clubs. Decide what sort of atmosphere you’re looking for and focus on the corresponding area of DC.
You can check out clubs by neighborhood above or go through our DC nightclub club guide to see if any of these clubs are right for you!
It’s ok to be under 21. There’s a wide selection of DC nightclubs, DC lounges, and live music venues in DC that are at least 18+.
Check out our list for 18+ clubs in DC.
If you love hip-hop, Top 40, pop or Latin music check out some larger spots like Ultrabar, Fur, Love, The Park at 14th or The Lux Lounge that cater to specific crowds or have multiple rooms.
What does dress code even mean nowadays? Some clubs say dress to impress, some say classy, some say casual, others don’t say anything.
Some places say no sneakers but let people in wearing pumas. WTF?! It works like this:
Wearing shorts or sandals out, in general, is never a good idea – the exceptions being giant festivals and college/dive bars.
Clubs don’t want trashy people that start fights, harass groups of people, and smell coming inside. If you look like you just stepped out of a dirty south hip-hop, raver, or death metal music video you probably aren’t getting in. There are exceptions – no dress code events, clubs catering to specific crowds – but if you’re just looking to go out and have a good time, why not look proper?
Before choosing your venue, it’s wise to decide how much you are willing to spend. Nightclubs and lounges can tend to be pricier, but they often run free passes and drink specials.
It’s best to check out the venues website or Facebook for current offers. Guest lists usually run a special like ‘free before 11:30 for 21+’ or something like that. Sign up sheets are usually on the venues website.
The earlier you arrive, the more likely you’ll find a free/reduced, speedy entry with drink specials.
Washington’s metro and bus system can get guests to most popular DC nightlife venues and help to avoid expensive trips and parking nightmares.
Unfortunately, the metro closes at midnight on weekdays and 2AM on weekends, whereas most venues close at 2AM on weekdays and 3AM on weekends.
Most parking garages cost $10-$20 (make sure to ask about closing time). Valet is also available for around the same price at most places.