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STUDENT SURVIVAL GUIDE '09: Rochester dance clubs

Join the club: Where to dance the night away in Rochester


After a long, stressful week, going out on the town and dancing the night away can be a fun way to unwind. Whether you love the deafening boom of the latest chart-toppers accompanied by seizure-inducing laser lights, or you're into a more laid-back scene with live performances by local bands, there are tons of hidden club gems all over Rochester. City Newspaper's Student Survival Guide has taken the guesswork out of finding the right place for your night out. After bar hopping all over town, we've taken a look at some of Rochester's best dance clubs (note that these clubs with spaces specifically intended for dancing; there are many other live music venues geared toward the concert experience). For a comprehensive listing of who's playing when, make sure to check City Newspaper every week, or go to our searchable online calendar at rochestercitynewspaper.com.

Bug Jar

219 Monroe Ave | 454-2966, bugjar.com | 18+

It's hard to put your finger on how to describe the Bug Jar. Between the giant bug fan near the bar, a Ms. Pac-Man game on the wall, and DJs or live music seven nights a week, it's safe to say the place is a bit eclectic. The crowd is as mixed as the types of music that can be heard here -- everything from 80's music to rock, punk, metal, indie, and even folk and hip-hop on occasion. The dance floor is modest, but no matter what kind of tunes and people are there, it's always a good time.


123 Liberty Pole Way | 454-3009, clubnvroc.com | 21+

Your first trip to ClubNV might be a tad intimidating, but once you make it past the security guards (there for your safety, not to scare you off), it's easy to get into the groove. That's partially thanks to the DJs that spin all sorts of music on different nights -- reggae on Thursdays, hip-hop, reggae, and R&B every Friday, and Latin music on Saturdays. The crowd, which is usually somewhere in the hundreds and predominantly black and Hispanic, fits perfectly on the club's spacious split bar/dance floor area. Dress to impress for this high-energy urban dance club.

Daisy Dukes

6 Lawrence St, 262-2063 | 2235 Empire Blvd, 671-4880 | 18+

Yee-haw! This country-themed club is a far cry from most other dance clubs in Rochester. Grab your cowboy boots and get ready for a wild, themed night out complete with a dance floor, full bar, and even a mechanical bull. If you can ride the bull for at least 11 seconds, the owners reward you with a $50 bar tab. It's not uncommon to see a winner or two on any given night (two the night I went), but you're more likely to see people thrown off in a matter of seconds. The music is usually popular country tunes, but it's all in good fun here. The Webster branch offers the same country feel of the East End location, but tends to be more low-key. Check out the huge billiards room or the comedy nights.

DubLand Underground

315 Alexander St | 232-7550, myspace.com/thedublandunderground | 18+

This low-key bar and dance club is tucked away on the corner of East and Alexander, but not to be missed. It's a two-for-one deal, with a traditional pub upstairs and a club with a small dance floor, a few booths, and its own bar downstairs. Local bands from all musical genres perform weekly, so the crowd is always a mix of seasoned bar-hoppers and newbies. Reggae is a popular style of music here (dub reggae partially inspired the name of the joint). Co-owner Tom O'Callaghan's Irish heritage also provided inspiration for the bar's title, and its drink menu (Jameson and Guinness are top sellers).


169 St. Paul St. | 325-5710, liquidnightspot.com| 18+

Located in the heart of the St. Paul quarter, Liquid is one of Rochester's more popular 18-and-over dance clubs. With two good-sized dance floors, a go-go cage, and so many neon lights it should be illegal, young Rochesterians pack into this place by the dozens every weekend to party all night. DJs spin everything from hip-hop to house, and TV screens display live video of the crowd and text messages sent in by guests.


40 S Union St | 325-6216, clubmuthers.com | 18+

This dive bar and club is a local favorite, especially among the gay community. It's a good place to go with a group of friends -- if you can all get in. The dance floor is pretty dark, lit only by a few lights and the disco balls, but always packed, especially on Friday nights. The main attraction is the regular drag show on stage Wednesdays through Sundays.

Nasty D's

140 Alexander St | 256-1000, nasty-ds.com | 18+

Another one of Rochester's popular gay and lesbian bars, Nasty D's keeps A Street (that'd be Alexander) lively seven nights a week. As if the crowd wasn't friendly enough, the exposed brick, rich wood detailing, and orange-painted interior give this place a rustic and homey feel. Show up before you dance for some home cooking with fish fry Fridays and all-you-can-eat pasta on Saturdays. It can get pretty crowded on the upstairs dance floor (there are pool tables and games downstairs), but everyone's there to have a good time, so you can't go wrong.


1 Ryan Alley | 546-1010, oneryan.com | 18+

They should really call this place "Two." Not because it's sub-par -- far from it -- but because it's both a bistro-inspired restaurant and a trendy nightclub. Once you've made it through the tropical-themed, first-floor restaurant, head upstairs to the huge dance floor. There, you can dance to electronic and house music, as well as current hits. If you need a break from dancing (and the weather's nice), head upstairs to the rooftop deck, which has its own bar and a nice breeze.

Panorama Night Club & Sports Bar

730 Elmgrove Rd | 247-2190, myspace.com/panoramanightclub | 18+

There's a little something for everyone here: a bar with all the usual munchies (pizza, wings, fries, nachos), several TVs showing nothing but sports, a small dance floor, and even karaoke and theme nights. It's more low-key than some Rochester nightclubs -- no blinding strobe lights or deafening stereos here -- but most will groove along to the local bands that frequent this place in PanoramaPlaza.

Pearl Night Club

349 East Ave | 325-5660, myspace.com/clubpearlrochester | 18+

This place is a little taste of a trendy Manhattan club right in Rochester's East End. Once you enter through the neon front door frame, you'll find a spacious dance floor where you can groove along to electronic music (house, electro, and techno) and even hip-hop, retro, and current hits. The drinks and the prices that go along with them are fairly typical, but the crowd isn't. On any given night you'll find everyone from college bar-hoppers, over-musculedGotti boys and tanorexic woo girls, to 30-something professionals and electronic music lovers.

The Roost

4853 W. Henrietta Rd | 321-1170, roostcountry.org | 18+

Grab your cowboy hats and boots before heading out to The Roost in Henrietta. This restaurant, bar, and club is all country, all the time, from its swinging saloon doors to its country western-inspired drink menu to the music that's played on the jukebox, through the loudspeakers, and onstage. Want to do your best Shania Twain impression? They've got you covered with karaoke on Mondays and Wednesdays. Want to kick up your heels in those cowboy boots? Check out the country line dance lessons six nights a week (the Roost is closed on Sundays).

Taylor's Disco Niteclub

3300 Monroe Ave | 381-3000, taylorsdisco.com | 21+

This dance club is tricky to find if you don't know where to look (head to the left of Blockbuster), but is worth seeking out. This club pumps out all the classic 70's anthems, but it also plays more current hits too. Downstairs you can shake your groove thing to disco hits under the sparkly disco ball, and upstairs you'll find a chic dance area to bust a move to songs from the current era. The crowd tends to be older (a lot of professionals frequent this club), but that might not be such a bad thing. Upperclassmen might consider this place for a night out and networking opportunity if you're looking for employment or internships.


444 Central Ave | 232-8440, myspace.com/tiltniteclub | 18+

The outside may look like a rundown warehouse, but looks can be deceiving. On the inside you'll find Tilt, a modern, hip dance club. It has everything you'd expect -- a huge dance floor, blinding strobe lights, and a disco ball -- and a few things that you might not, like a posh, quieter lounge (great if you need to take a breather), an indoor/outdoor smoking lounge, and a drag show every Thursday (not to be missed). The crowd is predominantly gay and lesbian, but anyone who just wants to dance and enjoy themselves will fit right in at this hotspot.


233 Mill St | 232-1090, tribecavip.com | 21+

Been abused by your homework and class schedule this week? Head to Tribeca, a trendy, upscale dance club and feel like a true VIP. The club boasts decadent décor and private booths (available for reservation), along with a large dance floor. The playlist usually includes all the current chart-topping hits and some other favorite dance tunes. It's strictly 21-plus on the weekends, but 18 and over on Thursdays and Fridays, so everyone can join in on the fun.


151 St. Paul St | 232-5650, venurochester.com | 21+

This urban dance club has a sleek and cold-looking exterior, but in that trendy way of today's upscale clubs. Its more sophisticated look and tapas-style restaurant (upstairs) attracts a slightly older crowd, but its hip-hop and urban music spun by local and guest DJs (often from New York City) attracts younger clientele to the spacious downstairs dance floor. It's a slightly pricier excursion than some of the other clubs on this list -- the cover charge can range from $5 to $10 and cocktails will run you upwards of $11 -- but it's a nice place treat yourself after a particularly rough week from time to time.

Vertex Nightclub

169 N. Chestnut St | 232-5498, myspace.com/clubvertex | 18+

Running low on cash? Looking for an edgier venue for your night out? Then Vertex is perfect for you. The rooms are dimly lit and decorated with fantasy paintings and sketches, giving the club a gothic feel. But the crowd is generally mixed and always friendly. There is a cover charge ($8 ages 18-20, $5 for 21+), but it's worth your while, as the fee includes open bar access until 11:30 p.m. for wells and drafts.


291 Alexander St | 325-7998 | 18+

Located in the heart of the entertainment district, Vinyl will transport you back to the 80's and 90's while you dance the night away. The dance floor is a bit on the smaller side, but there's also a bar downstairs with dart boards and a pool table where you can hang out. The crowd is mixed, but generally friendly. Wednesday is College Night and there are specials and giveaways every night they're open.


3400 Monroe Ave | 385-0580, wishrochester.com | 21+

Everyone's got a wish list when it comes to the ideal night out clubbing and, with a few exceptions, this new addition to the Pittsford scene makes the grade. Wish has a more relaxed feel to it than most of the higher-energy places in this town. The music is soft enough to carry out a conversation without having to shout during happy hour, but after 11 p.m., they push the tables aside, turn up the volume a bit, and let everyone go crazy on the dance floor. The dress code is casual, but professional, much like the crowd that usually gathers there.


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