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The 7 Best Dance Clubs That Don't Suck In Chicago

By Staff in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 28, 2013 6:00PM

Here at Chicagoist we love to dance but we don't need bottle service and other attendant drama to do so. Give us a good DJ spinning some solid beats and some space on a dance floor and we can handle the rest; you won't find us hanging in River North waiting in line for overpriced drinks and bad music.

We've compiled for you our picks for the best dance clubs in Chicago that don't suck. These are the seven venues that come correct and know the score.

2013_8_28dolphin_chicago.jpg Dolphin
“Just Joey” Swanson has transformed the former Green Dolphin Street into a state-of-the-art dance club with LED lights, lasers, projection screens and everything else needed to rival Chicago’s top-rated clubs. The music ranges from local DJs to internationally recognized talent, with Swanson's long-running "Boom Boom Room" a familiar anchor. —Chuck Sudo and Katie Karpowicz

Dolphin is located at 2200 N. Ashland Ave.

Danny's Tavern
Okay, technically Danny's is a tavern but don't let the Schlitz sign outside fool you—this Bucktown bar boasts one of the most raging dance floors in Chicago with DJs spinning a high-energy mix of music guaranteed to get the hips of even the most staid people moving. The staff encourages the party atmosphere and books their DJs accordingly but be warned—the line to get in most weekends starts early and doesn't let up until last call. —Chuck Sudo

Danny's Tavern is located at 1951 W. Dickens Ave.

Baby Atlas
Hidden in the basement of Matilda, down a (seriously, hold on to the railing) treacherous staircase, is Baby Atlas. This tiny room channels memories of college apartment parties in size and intimacy, and the vibe is decidedly low-key with a focus on fun over fashion. The DJs play a truly esoteric mix of music, often completely disavowing any beat matching or higher turntable skills in favor of simply playing music people want to dance to from all eras and flavors of the pop spectrum. The drinks are cheap and despite the small space the bartenders are pretty quick to serve, so there's plenty of chance to get properly lubricated for the dance floor (should you require a bit of liquid courage). Dress however you feel like—everything from fancy-schmancy to torn t-shirt and jeans is accepted without the bat of an eyelash—but make sure whatever you're wearing won't get in the way of your getting down with the party around you. —Tankboy / Jim Kopeny

Baby Atlas is located in the basement of Matilda at 3101 N. Sheffield Ave.

Photo credit: Mike Travis

One of our picks for the best gay and lesbian bars in Chicago also makes this list for its eclectic DJ lineup and its welcome, accommodating vibe. Regardless of your sexual orientation, all are welcome on the dance floor, as has been the case for 30 years, and the scene picks up significantly here after midnight, when the 24-hour party people converge to dance until the morning light. —Chuck Sudo

Berlin Nightclub is located at 954 W. Belmont Ave.

Smart Bar
Back when I considered staying out until sunrise a badge of honor Metro's subterranean sister was one of the venues I would use to bridge last call futility and a greasy diner breakfast. A makeover a few years back removed a lot of the grunge that was a hallmark of the club but the spirit and the dance tracks remain, with a lively mix of local and touring DJs spinning house, techno, dubstep, EDM and New Wave. —Chuck Sudo

Smart Bar is located at 3730 N. Clark St.

The Shrine
If your dance music tastes veer towards R&B, hip-hop and Afrobeat then you need to check out this South Loop/Motor Row venue. The dace floor here is always packed with guests bringing their A-game to match the tunes spun by the DJs. Come ready for a workout—there's no parking on this dance floor. —Chuck Sudo

The Shrine is located at 2109 S. Wabash Ave.

Beauty Bar
If you’re one for theme nights-outside of the general theme of “cutting a rug”-Beauty Bar hosts a slew of them. From 90s playlists to rap karaoke to its Wednesday night “Lemonade” party with oldies and Motown tunes, there’s always dancing happening at this small but cozy West Town spot. Let’s face it, Chicago is saturated with dance clubs that charge you double digits for a well vodka cranberry and overcrowd themselves. The fact that you can get a martini and a manicure for that same price and find a corner to take a breather in once you've worked up a sweat from dancing should clue you into why Beauty Bar carved out a spot for itself on our list. BONUS: Heels? Totally not required. —Katie Karpowicz

Beauty Bar is located at 1444 W. Chicago Ave.

And here are the clubs pinned on a handy map.

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