Wallflowers beware: addictive beats and tasty elixirs move San Diego’s dance scene to a new state of trance. We rhythm seekers live forever on the dance floor and DJs always play our favorite songs. From posh downtown electro to hipster, hip-hop, and fetish underground, however you get your groove on, San Diego has got the beat.
959 Hornblend Street, Pacific Beach
One of the best places to get wild on the coast, Bar West combines downtown flair with cool beach vibes. The lack of a cover charge, cheap drinks, open dance floor, and two stripper poles draw a crowd of rowdy 20-somethings that come to get crunk. Bar West delivers a full plate of hip-hop — from R&B to very, very Dirty South. The bump-and-grind dance moves are in full effect by 11pm. Thursday through Saturday the dance floor is packed with sweaty bodies until 2am — definitely not a club concerned with personal space.
485 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas
Heavy bass and flip-flops meet at D Street in Encinitas, a hipster bar and grill that effectively transforms into a dance hall after 10pm. Be prepared to sweat. From a raised DJ stage, the small dance floor looks more like an orgy. The line to enter can get long, but it moves quickly. There are plenty of tables and booths. Partiers scream to songs by Lil John and LMFAO. D Street’s casual atmosphere is a great place to spontaneously end a night and bust a move, and it’s occasionally a spot for heated hipster dance battles.
526 F Street, Downtown San Diego
For unadulterated, nitty-gritty hip-hop, F6ix is the upscale establishment that lets guests get down and dirty. The basement-level dance club is fixed with a top-notch lighting and sound system that shakes some serious bass. The air underground gets hot as the dancing heats up. There’s no patio and ventilation is poor. Get there before ten and avoid the cover. Otherwise, it’s ten bucks at the door. This mixed and classy crowd would fool most with their surprisingly serious dance moves. downtown’s dirty little secret.
500 Fourth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
FLUXX delivers some of the biggest names in EDM and hip-hop. Honoring both genres well, the single-story interior transforms each evening with themed decor, acrobatic dancers, and amazing music. The cover and drink prices aren’t cheap, but this club over-delivers on dancing. Bottle service is available but unnecessary. Here, the advantage is getting out on the floor — which takes up 80 percent of the space — and dancing. Thursdays FLUXX hosts exclusive EDM parties; hip-hop DJs spin gangster mixes on Fridays and Saturdays.
852 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
This two-story club combines a sexy lounge atmosphere with eclectic dance music. Two separate spaces are great for groups that can’t decide on an evening’s activity. Depending on the night, DJs are spinning everything from neo-soul — a Tuesday-night attraction—to a variety of popular dance music by David Guetta or Calvin Harris. Popular hip-hop dominates the dance floor on Fridays and Saturdays. Cover and drink prices are in the usual inflated-to-Gaslamp price range. Bottle service and table reservations are available, and the lounge offers considerable seating to take a break and catch a breath.
3811 Park Boulevard, Hillcrest
Club Sabbat at Numb3rs
Every second, fourth and occasional fifth Saturday, industrial Goth and Dark Wave music kidnap club Numb3rs in Hillcrest for a fetish-friendly party like no other. Synth-pop, power-noise, and electro spin inside the two-story club — two DJs mixing it up until 2am. The cool $5 cover and cheap drinks (available at three bars) make this alternative night affordable and a unique walk on the wild side. Go-go dancers dress up in leather and lace for the club’s themed nights, while the crowd stomps to super heavy bass.
546 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas
This hip dive bar in Encinitas is a perfect place to serve up some serious dance moves. Dirty Monday’s deep house and dubstep paired with great drink prices mix well for free-spirited dance moves. Friday and Saturday nights, DJs spin popular hip-hop that flows into faster dance jams, perfect for making an impenetrable dance circle with friends.
Young and old alike sip and mingle in this intimate bar that easily transforms into a place to boogie. No cover and casual dress code make it a perfect place to have fun, sport a mustache, and have a more casual night out dancing to hip music.
353 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
Latin beats envelop the main floor of this multi-level restaurant and nightclub, where friendly clientele and live Latin music set the mood. Sevilla offers a variety of Latin music styles, including Salsa Night on Tuesdays and Cha Cha/Mambo Wednesdays. Underneath the Latin beats, on the lower level, Sevilla’s nightclub plays R&B and Top-40 hip-hop. The $20 cover is discounted by signing the guest list online and getting there before 10pm. Bottle service is available along with table reservations for larger parties — a good idea if personal space is important.
2028 Hancock Street, Midway District
The only club in San Diego hosting the genuine all-nighter — the doors stay open until 6 am. Saturday nights, the three-story building is packed with electronic dance music enthusiasts decorated in neon. Despite the club’s size, it’s incredibly dark and vibes an underground appeal. Food is served all night, so serious dancers can carb up for their favorite song. The club’s clientele is eclectic and the electronic dance music music is, too. Dubstep, house, and electro allude to the club’s rave-inspired design.
454 Sixth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
Stingaree is San Diego’s go-to club for upscale tourists and young urban professionals. This three-story mega club boasts a celebrity guest list and bumps mainstream hip-hop and dance music that keep the main floor packed with beautiful people until 2am. The rooftop and patio provide nice spaces to catch a breath between songs. Bottle service starts at $350 and tops out at $2500 for a bottle of Louis XIII de Rémy Martin or Dom Perignon.
3112 University Avenue, North Park
One of the oldest clubs in North Park. The tables at Tuesday’s karaoke night vanish to become a dance floor for quality hip-hop/funk on Wednesdays, fusion/dance anthems on Thursdays, and high-energy mixes on Friday and Saturday nights. These mixed sounds inspire the club’s appeal in the hip neighborhood of North Park. Great drink specials throughout the week make U-31 a great place to try new dance moves or impress friends with old ones. The music embraces both.
308 University Avenue, Hillcrest
Even cowboys have a spot to kick up their heels in San Diego, at the always-happy Urban Mo’s Bar and Grill. The place fills up with good dancers almost every night of the week. Thursdays and Saturdays, Mo’s hosts Kickers Country Nights, spinning popular country mixes and dance anthems. Other evenings, guests can boogie to DJs spinning Top 40 from every decade — a fun mix of soul, funk, pop, and rock. Urban Mo’s is a great club to show off slick moves, in boots or otherwise. Sunday Funday at Mo’s is one of the few places in San Diego featuring a live DJ all day.
755 Fifth Avenue, Downtown San Diego
(Has gone out of business since this article was published.)
Voyeur is exclusively an electronic dance hall—dropping Top 40 trance, drum-and-bass, dubstep, house, and electro. The club is a tight, two-story Victorian-style castle with sexy go-go dancers tearing it up inside an enormous wall of lights. The DJ stage is the heartbeat of the dance floor, packed with electronic dance music fans that come to sweat. Drinks are expensive, but the cover is avoidable before 10pm. With a bar on both floors, drinks flow easily, so skip the bottle service — it’s available for private parties on the second floor, overlooking the crowd.