San Francisco is sometimes called “The City That Knows How,” and one thing the city knows how to do is party. The nightclub scene in San Francisco stretches over multiple neighborhoods and includes underground clubs, alien-themed party scenes, and massive dance ragers.
Public Works, Erie Street
Bar, Nightclub, Pub Grub, $$$
Public Works in the Mission District is a nightclub in the business of “giving people what they want.” With an industrial-style interior that cultivates a raw atmosphere, the underground club has events that range from disco to punk to yoga night. Built with the community’s needs in mind (the venue’s roster includes partnerships with non-profits and local acts), Public Works has morphed into a place where an eclectic local crowd of people can get together, let loose and have fun.
The aptly-named Make-Out Room is a well-known San Francisco destination for those who want to have some fun. Nightly events fill the Mission District venue’s calendar, ranging from dance DJ sets under the mirrored disco ball to reggae nights to themed drag shows. The dimly lit dance floor is a great place to bring friends, or make new ones.
A staple in San Francisco’s nightlife scene, DNA Lounge has outlasted most clubs in the city. The club, which has been open for three decades, is known for its out-there entertainment including costumed burlesque shows and electronic dance parties. It’s common to see crowds of people sporting fantastic outfits and costumes on the dance floor. DNA Lounge is massive with two stages, four dance floors, seven bars and even a late-night pizza parlor, designed to accommodate any step of a night-out adventure in San Francisco.
Located at the edge of SoMa, a nightlife neighborhood near the Financial District, the Monarch is a nightclub with two lounges and basement dance floor. Draped in vintage decor, the club is popular among the after-work crowd as a place to grab a stiff Prohibition-style cocktail. A new expansion in the club, The Emperors Drawing Room, is a somewhat hidden dark bar that is the ideal place to relax between DJ sets.
The EndUp, a stylish venue in the SoMa district of San Francisco, has been a hotspot for a diverse array of people in the city since it opened in the mid-1970s. One of the only after-hours clubs in the city, many nights the club stays open until 4am in a city where most nightclubs shut down at 2am. Located in a former hotel on 6th Street, The EndUp consists of three bars, a VIP lounge, a patio food stand and an outdoor cabana. Locals and visitors alike come here to party, and the club provides bumping DJ sets every weekend and extended hours for events.
Every night is ’80s night at Double Dutch, a themed nightclub known for blaring golden age hip-hop songs at its 16th Street location. A popular club in the Mission District for years, Double Dutch is a common go-to spot for college-aged partiers. As a result, the place gets rowdy. For those itching for a sweaty dance floor, inexpensive drinks and a place to meet new people in between bar-hopping, Double Dutch has got it covered.
An upscale place featuring plush seating and dim lighting, San Francisco’s Monroe is a club for a crowd that appreciates a lively yet romantic atmosphere. Located in North Beach, the club attracts the professional after-work crowd that floods in from the nearby Financial District. A 3,000-square-foot venue, Monroe is often home to many of the city’s most exclusive private events. For that reason, it’s worth checking the events calendar before making the trek.
Located over three levels in a building in San Francisco’s busy Civic Center neighborhood, Mr. Smith’s is best described as an upscale cocktail bar-meets-underground dance club. On Friday and Saturday nights, the club features a live DJ that plays everything from current Top 40s to 1980s hip-hop throwback songs. An unpretentious nightclub for any kind of party, Mr. Smith’s is a great place to either kick back with a signature cocktail or shake the night away on the dance floor.
Located in a former bathhouse, Oasis is home to outlandish comedy shows and great parties. Opened in 2015 by two drag legends, D’Arcy Drollinger and Heklina, the club hosts the best drag parties in the city hands down. Located in the SoMa district, the club features reserved seating options before each show, and also allows private parties and events with advance notice.
From house music dance parties to goth nights, San Francisco’s Cat Club is a Folsom Street nightlife staple. Known for their relentless dance-the-night-away ragers, Cat Club’s DJs will have the dancers moving for hours. Nightly drink specials keep the crowds coming through the doors, but they stay for the club’s judgment-free atmosphere. Stretching over two dance floors (with a side alley frequented by smokers), the club is a great place to spend a night grooving under colorful lights with an even more colorful crowd of partiers.