Limbs fly on the second floor of Columbia Heights’ Wonderland Ballroom. Local DJs are a fixture on weekends, as are full-capacity crowds that often spill over onto the bar’s small stage.
Another consistently sweaty mess of dancing can be found every Friday night at the Liberation Dance Party at DC9. It costs $6 to get into the second-floor party, but the bar serves free rail drinks from 9 to 10:30.
The Red Lounge is an unmarked hot spot between U and V streets. It’s easier to find on weekends when the line is out the door. Make sure to stop by when the local DJ group Fatback spins.
Silver Spring’s Gallery Restaurant & Lounge is gaining a reputation for its late-night events Thursday through Saturday from 10 PM to 3 AM. DJs play house and techno on the downstairs dance floor.
If you’re headed to a club, make sure to avoid the full cover charge by either going early or RSVPing online. Also, pick one that’s close to other bars in case the line is long and you want to bail.
Liv sits on top of the famous Bohemian Caverns jazz club in the U Street neighborhood. The two-story nightclub has two bars, a dance floor, and a small performance stage where DJs and R&B acts perform. Don’t expect to find a seat—people come here to dance.
Chinatown’s Muse Lounge, formerly RnR, is a block from the Verizon Center. The nightclub has three levels, each with its own DJ and style of music, ranging from pop and hip-hop to electronic and house. The main dance floor is on the first level, where you’ll occasionally see a hired dancer or two in the crowd.
After the drag show at Town Danceboutique, a two-floor gay dance club, the staff clears tables and chairs to make room for its dance floor, which uses state-of-the-art lighting and video screens.
The Park at Fourteenth nearly always has a line, but three floors of dancing and a fourth-floor VIP lounge provide plenty of space once you’re inside. It’s one of the pricier clubs, with a $20 cover.
Salsa and More
Interested in learning to dance salsa? Lima Restaurant and Lounge hosts free lessons every Monday night. There’s also an open bar for ladies Monday from 9 to 11.
Columbia Heights’ Latin Jazz Alley offers mambo, salsa, and merengue lessons Thursday through Saturday for $5.
Sometimes the best option is the least glamorous. At Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, just off Adams Morgan’s main drag, there’s always room to dance. No pretension here: The drinks are cheap, and the DJs play everything from Salt-N-Pepa to Guns N’ Roses and Beyoncé.
The nearby Heaven and Hell has a similar atmosphere with its weekly Thursday-night ’80s party. If you like early Whitney Houston and Duran Duran, this is the place.
Check out our guide to bars that offer dance lessons for even more options.
→ Some of the Best Bars in Washington
→ Nightlife Guides: Dancing, Music, Happy Hours, and More
→ Happy Hour Finder
→ Chat With Four Great Bartenders
→ Video Cocktail Recipes
→ Give Us Your Nightlife Feedback
→ Readers' Favorites Happy Hours, Margaritas, and More
→ Great Bars to Hear Music
→ Bars Where You Can Dance
→ Our March Nightlife Issue, On Stands Now