More honky tonks abound on Broadway and its ancillary streets than can be addressed in just one article. And while most of these bars share many common fundamental features, here are a few can’t-miss highlights if you find yourself downtown.
Line dancing: how difficult can a few steps really be? While the technique behind this Southern cultural staple may be relatively straightforward, a truly comprehensive tour of old-school Nashville would be incomplete without a line dancing lesson or two. And Wild Horse Saloon, located on 2nd Avenue just off of Lower Broadway, is perhaps the best place in the city to do so. Offering free daily line dancing lessons in addition to a robust calendar of live music, this downtown venue is a go-to for visitors from all different corners of the country hoping to take advantage of Nashville’s Southern roots.
Wildhorse Saloon, 120 2nd Ave N, Nashville, TN, +1 615 902 8200
Every Monday night at 10pm, locals flock to this East Nashville joint to partake in what is perhaps the most popular weekly dance party in the entire city: Keep on Movin’ (commonly referred to as ‘Motown Mondays’). While The 5 Spot is an excellent venue for live music any night of the week – with regular performers of a myriad of genres ranging from soul to R&B to rock n’ roll – if you’re searching for the best opportunities to brush the cobwebs off your dancing shoes, Motown Mondays are a can’t-miss. And unlike the country kitsch of most downtown honky tonks, The 5 Spot has a reputation, much like the rest of its East Nashville neighbors, for drawing a slightly younger and more cutting-edge local crowd (there’s a reason, after all, that GQ named Motown Mondays the ‘most stylish party in America’).
The 5 Spot, 1006 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN, +1 615 650 9333
Interested in dance that isn’t of the honky tonk line dance variety? While Nashville may be most well-known for its country roots when it comes to dance hall opportunities, if you look hard enough, you’ll also find a number of venues offering a wide variety of different dance options. One such example is Swing Dance Nashville, a venue celebrating the vintage jazz styles of the mid-twentieth century. In addition to tons of classes ranging from beginner to advanced, every Friday night the studio also hosts a Jump Session, where for five dollars you can drop in on a lesson and then stick around for three hours of open dancing as DJs play jazz tunes from the 1920s-1950s.
By Katie Miller