Where to Go in NYC at Night: The City's Best Underground Venues

ByCaitlin McCormick

Once, on a warm New York night, I stumbled upon a warehouse in Bushwick. Loud music and decor in the way of girls dancing on poles were scattered throughout the venue. Inside was a dance unlike one I've seen before. The girls and their butts were flailing about as if detached from their bodies. Vigorously they moved up and down and up and down and up and down some more. I was mesmerized. This is just one example of a great experience, and a great under-the-radar location, for a night out. I’d like to mention a few off the beaten path places for a New York night, and I believe starting with the House of Yes in Brooklyn is the proper thing to do. House of Yes made me feel like I wasn't missing out on the nightlife of New York past. I embraced its dirt and whatever illegal goings-on with a certain pride.

Outside was a purple bus with pot-smoking weirdos just waiting to let you try their absinthe. Remembering Zac Efron's YOLO tattoo, I climbed onto the bus and sat down on the couch inside. I happily took a swig of the clear concoction and watched a girl with dirty fingernails paw at a guy with an unintentional beard. It made me feel the grit that New York once was. Finally! I wasn't a wannabe! I wasn't someone trying to relish in the past of New York. I was living in the now. I grabbed that absinthe and chugged! I passed that joint to the left hand side!

There are other places to dance around town, too. Bembe is one where you can freely dance salsa in the arms of a Rastafarian prince (do NOT go home with said Prince. His home may be in his car or in a dark alleyway).

Chinatown is currently my favorite spot for the weekends. It's a great place to avoid the college kids that flock the east and west villages. And heaven knows I am too much of a hooligan to flock any higher past 20th street. 

Pulqueria is this little restaurant bar off Doyers Street. After drinking a gimmy-pop (or a gimlet for the less absurd), I recommend dancing to the live band and sweating your face off along with 20 other awesome people. The paella isn't bad, either. There is also a bar next door that is super shady. I've had Saturday nights going back and forth between these two destinations and having a riot the whole time. 

If I feel like sitting down and giving some chap bedroom eyes from across the room, Jule's Cafe is the place. Live jazz at a cozy venue that is just perfect for shitty March weather. The gentlemen that play are characters as well as wonderful musicians. They live for this shit, man. Plus the french staff transports patrons to another world. Or another city.

Piña Coladas are amazing. And if you want seven in two hours, go to Cocktail Bodega Underground on the lower East Side. Great music, great dancing, and frozen drinks! They have frozen Bloody Mary's and birthday cake frozen drinks too. Plus the lights are low so you don't have to see the other weirdos who want to dance with you. This bar makes me feel young again. 

Feeling young and free, even if you are faking it, is crucial to New York nightlife. Fake it til' you make it, as Aristotle once said, and if you can't do that, then get the hell out of town.