New York Nightlife: Where to Go, Where to Avoid and How to Choose

A lot of nightlife writing is a not so subtle attempt to tell you where to go with advertorial features, top 10 lists and the inside scoop on the club no one knows about yet. Some authors put a twist on this formula by trying to tell you where not to go in an apparent disdain for the status quo. Both these approaches can be useful, but I’d rather give you some advice on how to decide for yourself where to go to enjoy New York nightlife.

Because of the writing that I do for nightlife culture and Yelp, people often ask me what club they should go to. I was taught to never answer a question with a question but that’s what I always do. I’m not trying to be annoying (most of the time). I ask questions because the only real way to answer that question is to find out more about the person who is asking. Every venue can’t be everything to everyone every night. Modern New York nightlife has too many niche markets, too much segregation and too much specialization to offer up a stock answer. One size does not fit all.

The questions that I ask fall into 6 general categories.

  1. What kind of music do you want to hear? Because sending the house head to the jazz club probably won’t go over well.
  2. What do you want to do when you are there? People have different reasons for going out and the best place for dancing probably isn’t the best place for craft cocktails or comedy…
  3. Who do you want to meet or spend time with? Where you take your first date is different than where you go out with your boys, or your client, or your female cousin from North Dakota.
  4. What part of town do you want to be in? Different areas attract different types of people. Do you want to be around people like you or are you in the mood for something different? Finding an easy way back home in the middle of the night is also a concern.
  5. What night do you want to go out? Nightlife amateurs might think nightlife is about the weekends, but nightlife natives know that nightlife happens every night. You just have to pick the right night for you.
  6. How much do you want to spend? New York isn’t cheap as a general rule, but some places are more not cheap than others. Nothing messes up a night faster than realizing you just spent this month’s rent having a few drinks.

New York nightlife is huge. The answers to these questions will narrow down the hundreds of options you have every night into something a little more manageable. From there it only takes a little digging online to find the best spot for your nightlife. It might be easier to just check a top 10 list, stay home or follow the crowd. But if you spend a little time finding your own nightlife you will enjoy it more…

And if all else fails, just send post a comment with your question and I’ll help you find something…

Have fun.

G